I have a confession to make. A loud one.
My name is Andy, and I have a hearing problem.
As a rock ‘n’ roll journalist from the age of 16 to 23, I was out at concerts almost every night. The end result of such aural abuse is a little medical condition called “Otosclerosis,” which has severely limited hearing in my left ear…and which is why I subtly turn to my right when in conversation.
I’ve been given two possible solutions to the problem—an operation or a hearing-aid. And I’ve eschewed both; the former for the risk (a 50:50 chance that it will work wonders or completely cut off hearing to the ear), the latter because of the stigma attached to wearing one.
That explained, here’s an excerpt from “How To Do The Impossible,” a book I wrote eight years ago:
“…I realize that hearing is one of the five senses and that many people suffer from the diminishing functioning of another one of the five senses—sight. They too can change their predicament by wearing a ‘seeing-aid,’ namely eye-glasses.
“My whole point here is that there’s less of a stigma to wearing glasses. Glasses can be cool; not so hearing aids. Why? Maybe I can convince Giorgio Armani to create a line of designer hearing aids, with his winged logo sticking out of my eardrum. Maybe I could start a new trend, a new industry…”
Well, it’s taken me close to a decade, but being the spokesman for Surprise has empowered me to get off my ass and act on my relatively revolutionary hearing-aid idea. I need one, and I’ll wear one…but only as art or jewelry.
Or put another vain, immature and ridiculous-but-true way, I’d rather be deaf than uncool.
One of my co-conspirators in this endeavor is hearing health maverick Nick Laperle. His company Sonomax sent shockwaves through a staid and ultra-conservative industry when he announced a deal with Wal-Mart to do for hearing-aids within their stores what LensCrafters has done in malls throughout the continent: custom fit ‘em and deliver them within one hour at a value price.
The other co-conspirators are artist Frank Cipra and jeweler David Maidor. They’ve been playing around with Sonomax prototypes for a few weeks now. Frank paints the wild designs on masks for the majority of NHL goaltenders, and has shrunk his canvas somewhat to detail my potential hearing aid with skulls, bombs exploding and other less-than-subtle imagery. David, who custom-makes baubles for the rich and famous, is working to fit Nick’s technology into a white gold shell, which he will (hopefully) cover in pave diamonds.
I’ll keep you up to date on progress, show you a couple of photos of finished units and report back on public reaction.
That is...assuming I actually hear something.