Hearing crickets. Or not.

You guys, I can’t hear the crickets chirping.

I can’t hear the crickets chirping, and it’s driving me insane.

Almost as insane as hearing the crickets chirping.

If I could.

Let me explain.

About two years ago I discovered that I couldn’t hear the high-pitched beep on the digital thermometer that indicates when the temperature is reached. You know the drill, stick the thermometer in your kids’ mouth, wait for 45 or 60 seconds (while continually asking, “is it under your tongue?”) and then hear the tiny beep that alerts you if kid is either sick or your surefire method of diagnosing fever by sight has failed.

I thought our thermometer was broken.

“I think our thermometer is broken,” I complained as I tried to turn it on. “It doesn’t beep anymore when I press it on.”

“Umm. Yeah, it does,” said my potentially sick kid.

“No, it doesn’t. Listen.” I pressed the button to turn it off. Pressed it again and the display lit up. “See? The numbers appear but there’s no sound.”

“Yes, there is,” said my wise-ass kid. “You don’t hear that?”

“Hear what?” I replied, certain that she was playing a trick on me, and if so, just as certain that sick wasn’t the only thing she was about to be. I pressed it off and on again, but still, I heard nothing.

Insolent child: “Seriously, it’s beeping every time you do that. You really don’t hear it?”

I held the thermometer right up by my ear — pretty much as if I was about to use it as a Q-tip — and there it was! The beep! I could hear it! However, the fact that it sounded as if it was coming from inside a suitcase two flights of stairs down in my basement was a bit bothersome, so I conducted a little experiment.

Holding the damning thermometer down by my side, I walked about 15 feet away from my daughter and pressed the button. Crickets … but not even. “There! Did you hear it?” she asked, already chuckling because she knew the answer by the look of confusion-slash-horror on my face.

“No! You’re a big fat liar! It didn’t beep!” I yelled in disbelief.

I mean, you guys, I heard nothing — other than her wicked laughter. Seriously, it was like I was in an episode of The Twilight Zone. I kept pushing the button and seeing the numbers appear, but all I heard was silence and the fear of deafness.

I then held the thermometer about four inches away from my face, walked into the other room where she couldn’t see me, waited about 30 seconds, and pressed the button.

“There it is! I heard it!” she yelled gleefully from the other room, all thoughts of fever and sickness erased by the thrill of her mother losing not only her hearing but her ever-loving mind.

I made her take her own damn temperature and get her own damn Tylenol after that.

Bothered more than I’d care to admit about this fun new development in my post-40 decline of senses (the eyesight had already started to fail), I made an appointment with a specialist to have my hearing checked. I got to go into a cool sound-proof booth and put on the same pair of headphones I think I might have worn at my grade school hearing exams in 1976 and listen to a series of different pitched beeps, repeat lists of words, and do some other stuff that was simultaneously kind of like a fun game as well as alarming, as there were times when I knew she was pushing buttons on the other side of the wall and I was hearing nothing but the panic that the absence of my hearing was creating.

Bottom line? Despite the fact that I’m a bit young for this to happen (as in, about TWENTY-FIVE YEARS too young), I’ve somehow lost hearing of things at a certain high frequency. Like that of, say, A FREAKIN’ DIGITAL THERMOMETER.

Thanks, genius.

For the past two years, my family has made sure to find great pleasure in pretending to hear things that I cannot. The fact that there are a few things that they actually can hear that I cannot makes the game all the more enjoyable for them. They’re super awesome.

But until today, my hearing loss has pretty much been limited to the thermometer and my alarm clock that I tend to leave set and forget to turn off but cannot hear when I’m more than a foot away, which drives everyone else in my family crazy when it’s beeping beeping beeping from about 7 a.m. to whatever time someone runs upstairs and shuts it off out of frustration (heh heh).

Until the crickets.

This morning my husband and I were sitting outside on the deck, enjoying a gorgeous, (what I thought was) quiet morning by the lake.

“These damned crickets are driving me crazy!” he said after about 15 minutes of (what I thought was) a peaceful morning.

“What are you talking about?” I asked, looking up from my book and taking a sip of my coffee. I was clearly not bothered, and he instantly realized why.

“The crickets! They’re so damn loud and incessant!” he continued. “Wait. You can’t hear them?”

I tried. Damn, did I try. I cupped my hands around my ears, I leaned forward, I closed my eyes to heighten my sense of hearing. I heard the distant sound of a lawnmower from across the lake, a few birds chirping and the faint muffled road traffic from the road a mile from our cabin, but no crickets (other than metaphorical ones).

“No! I don’t hear crickets! I HEAR NO CRICKETS!!” The panic of impending deafness had returned.

The absence of any form of cricket-like sound was so intense that I kind of thought he was messing with me until a few hours later when we were again sitting on the deck — this time with our older daughter, who had no idea of the morning’s exchange. “What’s up with the crickets?” she asked.

Sigh.

It’s OK. Pretty soon they’ll believe me when I pretend I can’t hear them.

13 Comments

  1. Amy Flory - Funny Is Family on June 27, 2014 at 3:10 am

    That must be so surreal! I’m whistling right now. Can you hear it?

    • Michelle on June 27, 2014 at 6:03 pm

      You’re hilarious. Are you part of my family?? 😉

  2. […] is and tells me it’s like 48 or some God-awful short number like that but I’m using my early onset hearing loss as an excuse to ignore her and pretend she’s speaking in […]

  3. Bobby Bittman on May 29, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    A month ago, coworkers were going nuts because of a cricket in the ventilation that I could not hear. I didn’t think much of it. Then last night, my son came outside and asked if that “sound” he heard were crickets. I had to tell him I didn’t know, because I couldn’t hear anything. He was confused (as am I!! I’m 43!!)

    Did you listen to loud music much in your “youth” ?

  4. Tracey Ford on August 2, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    OMG I had this same experience yesterday with my husband and 7 year old!! They said the crickets were really loud and I couldn’t hear them despite hearing the wind, sea, vioces and the sound of gravel under our feet!

    • Michelle on August 5, 2015 at 6:02 pm

      Oh, thank God. I mean, I’m so sorry for your hearing loss. 😉
      Yeah, it’s annoying, but sometimes funny. The other night there APPARENTLY was a beeping somewhere in the house that was driving them crazy.
      Not me. Couldn’t hear a thing.

  5. Jennifer on June 27, 2020 at 4:57 pm

    I was going for a wild flower walk with friends, and we were looking at the grasses and butterflies and my friend said, ‘Oh can you hear the crickets?’ And I said, ‘What crickets, I can’t hear them?’ I was really surprised! That was the first I knew of any hearing loss.

  6. Justin Willis on September 29, 2020 at 7:10 pm

    This story is so like what’s happened to me except for the thermometer! I had hearing tests with beeps in the 70s and my girlfriend didn’t believe I couldn’t hear the crickets when walking the dogs!
    I was partially deaf as a kid and had to have tubes in my ears for a while.
    Maybe I need to go for hearing tests again now I’m getting on a bit?

    • Michelle on October 5, 2020 at 6:28 pm

      Oh my gosh, thank you for this comment — especially since it’s been years since I wrote this post! I love to see people still reading the old stuff! I wish I could tell you it’s gotten better over the years, but I still can’t hear most thermometers. And just the other day my daughter was like, “what’s that beeping?” and my husband listened and said, “Huh, I’m not sure” and got up to check it out while I was sitting in the same room with them going, “what beeping?” I’ve just come to terms with the fact that I’ll need a hearing aid sooner than most, but for now I just ignore what I can’t hear and use subtitles on a lot of TV shows! Thanks again for sharing!!

  7. Jessica Graves on October 5, 2020 at 10:08 pm

    Last night I learned my husband can’t hear crickets either!

    • Michelle on October 23, 2020 at 5:47 pm

      Okay, we need to start a club!

  8. Lone Jensen on October 22, 2020 at 5:51 am

    I’ve lost the cricket sound as well and it’s so depressing! I love hearing the bugs. Glad I’m not the only one though!

    • Michelle on October 23, 2020 at 5:48 pm

      I’m so glad to hear this — I mean, I’m so sorry to hear this! haha. I LOVE hearing the frogs outside my window in the spring, don’t really care about the crickets!

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