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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1934375-A-Question-of-Hearing
Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Biographical · #1934375
A need for auditory amplification devices, or institutional confinement
Bucks got worries


A Question of Hearing-
There is a need for auditory amplification devices or institutional confinement.


I first thought I wanted to be a doctor in college, so much of my coursework consisted of pre-med classes. After the second semester of my sophomore year, I was home for an impromptu family gathering. I was hesitant to attend because after my family found out I was planning to become a medical professional. They started talking to me about their ailments as if I had already completed medical school and was waiting to pass my certification boards.

Walking into the family pavilion by the lake (Uncle Larry’s two-car garage by his fish pond.) I found his older brother, my Uncle Buck, sitting in his chair, looking somewhat despondent. Though not known for his joviality, his demeanor was much darker than usual.

“Uncle Buck, you seem a bit down. Is there anything wrong?”

“Yeapers ... I was late gettin back from the doc’s office, so now, I have assburgers.”

His statement caught me entirely off guard; he was much too old for this diagnosis. It had to be that I misunderstood. I thought I should attempt to clarify what he said;

“Uncle Buck, do you mean Asperger syndrome, also called (AS)? It’s an autism spectrum disorder characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests?”

I didn’t add the other parts of the syndrome, often including clumsiness and peculiarly odd use of language. As I ran through the textbook definition, I suddenly realized that many of the listed symptoms might apply in Uncle Buck's case.

“Boy ... I don’t know what language they have been teachin' you in that feather head school you have been goin to. But I didn’t understand a blessed word you just said. I came in late from the doctor and was the last to sit down for lunch, and I didn’t see that William had put the sack on my chair, so now I got ass-burgers.”

I sat slowly, letting my respiration out in a low sigh, as I pressed my palm firmly to my brow to force them back into their normal position.

“Your Aunt Winnie’s not happy either. She’s got mashfrytitsis.”

I knew better than to keep going, but what the heck? I liked Aunt Winnie a lot, and smashed fries do suck.

“Oh, my word, Mickey D’s is just down the road. Would you like me to go buy her some new ones?”

Uncle Buck gave me a steady glare as if I had just asked him if he wanted me to drive his pickup into the pond.

He said, “I know, I don’t get out much as I should, but since when have they been sellin--em at McDonald’s?”

“Okay, if she is that particular, I can go to Burger King.”

“I Suwanee ... I don’t think she wants new ones. Doc said the soreness is caused by her limp nodes. He asked how long she had the problem. I told him they had been sagging for the last twenty years. He gave her a prescription and said they’ll perk up, good as new, in just a few days.”

Uncle Buck looked across the room to where Aunt Winnie was talking with Aunt Pat and my cousin Thomas. When I saw it, the corners of his mouth rose ever so slightly to reveal a smirk that rarely visited his face. I realized, again, that I did not hear what I thought I heard.

“Uncle, did you mean that Aunt Winnie has ‘Mastitis,’ an infection in her breast? She is much too old to be lactating, which is the normal cause of that ailment.”

“Isn’t that what I said—he said? It’s limp nodes, and they can turn into ‘Sucksass disease’ if we aren’t careful.”

I quickly ran down my limited knowledge of breast disorders, trying to figure out what terrible affliction my dear aunt could have contracted. I asked my uncle again.

“Do you mean Zuska-Atkins disease? Zuska’s disease is a rare but painful breast disorder, which can often cause concern for possible breast cancer. However, please do not worry; Zuska’s breast disease is not cancer. Though it is a rare affliction, many field workers believe it occurs much more frequently than reported.”

“I knew it; I told her that Atkins thing was not right, I mean making a man forget he eats taters and bread. These folk you’ve been talking about also hit the nail dead about the fieldwork. She’s spending way too much time in the garden. She ain’t fixed my lunch in weeks; that’s why I’m eaten ass-burgers.”

“Oh look ... Uncle Larry just came in; I’d better say hello. You know how cranky he gets if you don’t say hi straight away. I’ll check back with you in a little bit.”

I escaped to the other side of the room and greeted Uncle Larry. He gave me one of his bear hug hellos, “Oh, I see you talking to Buck... Was he telling you about his searoaches?”

“Searoaches, Is that something new you guys are feeding the fish in your ponds?”

Uncle Larry leaned in and whispered, “No silly boy, I’m talking bout his searoaches of the liver. He’s got them liver spots. They said it’s from all that dew he sipped over the years.”

“Ah ... no, Uncle Larry, Uncle Buck didn’t say anything about his Cirrhosis, but his color is still good. I would guess they found it in time.”

“Let’s hope so. I don’t want Buck to wear one of those “Lost-o-me: thingies.”

“Lost-o-me?” I asked, knowing full well it was a mistake.

“Yeah, one of them pig livers in a bag you wear on the outside of your belly went your guts give out.”

“Oh, you mean a colostomy appliance. No, for heaven’s sake, let’s pray. Uncle Buck never has to wear one of those.”

“So, how’s school going?”

“You know, Uncle Larry, I’m thinking, as soon as I get back to Tallahassee, I am changing my major to Engineering. Oh look, there’s Aunt Wanda.”
****


Now, you know why I became an engineer instead of a doctor. I lacked the level of hearing necessary to understand a patient’s needs. And while machines sometimes act sick, you can be sure that their problems are never related to “Searoaches of the liver.” Most times, you can treat their aliments with a good shot of lithium grease.
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