Suddenly, I hear those who don't hear well
By BARBARA FREDRICKSEN
Published November 19, 2006
Earl Hickey, the "Earl" in the NBC television comedy My Name Is Earl, would say it was karma, or, in lay terms, "Whatever you do in life comes right back at you."
I think it was just bad luck.
Earl would say it started years ago, when I lodged my first complaint in writing about people who go to the theater live or filmed and shout out, "What'd he say?" every other scene.
Over time, my vociferousness over the issue has grown in direct proportion to the number of people who said that hated phrase during crucial moments of any entertainment event.
Then, earlier this week, as I was stretched out in my recliner watching for at least the 10th time what is, arguably, the world's most exciting movie, My Dinner With Andre (exciting ideas, not car chases, explosions or sex), the sound suddenly dropped to a whisper.
I grabbed the remote and cranked 'er up to top volume, but still, it seemed as though everyone was talking with a mouth full of cotton.
"What'd he say?" I shouted, making the cat jump up and run through his little kitty door to the safety of the back porch.
It seems my left ear (also known as my "good" ear) had sealed over as tight as the lid of an oversized pickle jar, the victim of something too yucky to describe to people who might be eating breakfast.
I squeezed in ear drops and blasted it with warm water from a 3-ounce ear syringe, which only made it worse.
By unlucky happenstance, I couldn't get an ear doctor to see me until Friday, the day after I had tickets to see the one musical I hadn't seen before, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.
It's filled with hilarious jokes, funny song-patter and a delicious story. Or so I've read.
But there I was, in what are usually perfect seats, center of Row F in the mezzanine, trying to read lips from 200 feet away.
Of course, I yearned to say, "What'd he say?" Not every other scene, but every other line, especially the lines that got a big laugh or a round of applause.
I didn't. My throat aches from swallowing my shouts. My lips are bruised from biting them.
On Friday, the ear doctor turned his version of the Oreck vacuum on my clogged ears and suddenly I was in a new world, where the sound of my cat's tiny toes pattering across the floor sounds like a herd of home invaders.
Now that I know what it's like to be hard of hearing, I am, like Earl, going to cross the "What'd he say?" crowd off my list of unforgiveable theater offenders.
Latecomers, candy unwrappers and loud nose-blowers are still there, though.
Something new in the Pasco Times
A few people have noticed that our newspaper page got narrower a few weeks ago. A few.
Because the former Steppin' Out, now called Diversions, is allotted a single page each week, that meant about 12 percent less space for arts and entertainment news each Friday. And that meant something had to go.
What went was the section devoted to events in the future, also known as Look Ahead. The result is that readers often learn about an event on the very day it happens, which is sometimes too late to make plans to go.
So the Pasco Times is trying out a new feature, called Diversions: Coming Attractions, which will list concerts, plays, art shows, festivals and other events that will be happening later in the season but that people might want to plan for right now.
The listing will be brief: event name, date, a description, where it's happening, how much and where to get tickets, if they're needed.
The feature will run on a "space available" basis - that is, when we find ourselves with some space that isn't filled with a planned feature or breaking news story. Because Pasco County has several editions of the Pasco Times, each with different stories and space, Diversions: Coming Attractions might run in one edition and not another on any given day.
We're polishing the format right now, but if you have an event in or near Pasco County coming up in the next few months, please send the details, with a telephone contact, to me at 11321 U.S. 19, Port Richey, FL 34668, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or fax it to me at (727) 869-6233 (no phone calls, please).
Who knows? If this works out here, it might spread into other editions.