I’m deaf in my left ear. Have been for as long as I can remember. I regard it as a social inconvenience more than a musical one – there have been times when I’ve discovered that people were upset with me because they thought I was snottily ignoring them, when I actually had no idea they were speaking to me. Might be a good idea to hang a sign from my earlobe, or better yet a tattoo that says, “meet me on the other side.”
When I was a kid, oneearedness gave me a great way to drift off during a boring class: I would put my right elbow on the desk, cover my good ear with my palm, and affect a look of deep concentration while spinning my thoughts out the window. I sometimes do the same thing in committee meetings to this day.
Biggest aggravation: someone in the room talking to me while I’m on the phone.
Us monophonics feel an instant kinship. When I first met Marcy Rosen, the cellist of the Mendelssohn String Quartet, we were attempting to have a conversation with one another while walking across a parking lot, but we kept circling each other, trying to get on our good sides, before we finally realized we were both trying to solve the same problem. We became fast confidants after that. But now, whenever we have a conversation, one of us has to walk backwards.
(When the Mendelssohn was first looking for a name for their group, one of the proposals was Four Scores and Seven Ears.)
One-eared wonders can’t locate sound. When a lot of people are talking in a large room, I have a helluva time trying to make out anything specific. I often give up and assume a vacant smile, as if I know what’s going on. I usually come across as either tremendously wise or incredibly dense.
The biggest musical problem for a solo auricle is dealing with headphones. I’ve always mistrusted them, because I know while one side is communicating just fine, the other side is just talking to a wall. So, no thanks to Walkman or Ipod – I’m not even that crazy about speakers, which have all the musical presence of a sofa. I prefer my music live.
But Henry Brant’s music? Fuggedaboutit.