One random blob of earwax, and life goes right to hell.
I’ve just emerged from four days in bed – no, not with some tall dark handsome stranger who happened to be in the market for a middle-aged matron with ear canal hygiene challenges (although we are admittedly a hot commodity). I wasn’t even in bed with Husband, although he fluttered around solicitously for the duration, convinced that I had a brain tumor and bracing himself for the long mirthless road ahead.
Existence is a fine and dangerous line to tread, especially when robbed of balance. In the morning, I have a plugged-up ear. By nighttime the ear is clear, but I cannot stand or walk or turn my head without the floor moving up to meet the ceiling and the room sliding sideways out of focus.
Is this my reward for seeking pro-active medical care?
Well, yes: I trade minor inconvenience for total incapacitation. But I learn a valuable life lesson: Whiners never win. Don’t complain about things like earwax.
It’s another touch of divine sadism – here we are, made in God’s image, yet we suffer humiliations like ingrown toenails and nose hair and constipation. I very much doubt that God has ever had halitosis or earwax buildup. If we’re his spit and image, then he was surely peering through a glass darkly on that sixth day. Maybe nearsightedness is something he shares with us.
The medical visit starts innocently enough – routine test results, reviewed by a doctor I’d not met before. I mention the plugged ear with more than a little mortification and an apology. I know, I know – why on earth should I apologize? But I do. I am ashamed of the gross dross of my humanity. She offers to irrigate my ears and proceeds to flush them out with the single-minded over-zealous enthusiasm of a dominatrix. I swear she had a riding crop in her back pocket.
Madame Doctor then insists on showing me all the goop, as if I were potty training and it were my poop. I decide she is expecting gratitude and so shower her with praise, lest she try and have another go at me. “Thank you, Sir. May I have another?”
The whole concept is bizarre – for $19.95, you get a white plastic fake cake shape that children decorate with blobs of inedible Play-Doh “frosting.” Why not just give the kid some real frosting? They even sell that in cans, like Play-Doh, if you’re not the baking type (the ingredients are probably very similar). A couple of graham crackers, a jug of Betty Crocker vanilla and a spatula, and you’ve got a happy child who’s mastering a valuable life skill (ostensibly “How to Cook,” but “How to Satisfy a Sweet Tooth” works, too).
Here’s the thing: How did the Sweet Shoppe Cake Mountain Special Frosting Extruder make it all the way to market? Look at him!
First, he went through the fantasy phase, where imaginative Hasbro developers pitched the concept to their executives. Next, he survived a rigorous field-testing process, where engineers and artists hardened the details of his physique. Then, he was formally taken in by the corporate office and passed on to the manufacturing side for dissemination. Finally, the marketing folks designed his seductive packaging.
No-one ever noticed that the Cake Mountain Sweet Shoppe Special Frosting Extruder works nights as a sex toy?
Kids reveling in their fleeting days of innocence won’t find the Special Frosting Extruder unsettling. But puberty provides a different perspective on things. Even my repressed prudish mother-in-law (and repressed prudery grants an innocence, of sorts) would eye that plastic penis warily.
She is dead, so I can afford bold talk. I still use her as my benchmark for having stepped beyond the pale of conventional ethics and taste and morality. She pursed her lips into a tight white line of disapproval at my earlier reference to S&M, for instance (and that’s hard for a dead woman to do, so you know she was really moved). And I can just see her beaming at a beloved grandchild on Christmas morning before noticing the Play-Doh dildo present in his chubby little hand and turning to me, his mother, with a horrified expression.
Son #2 once stuffed his ear full of Play-Doh (I can’t really afford bold talk, here, but will risk it anyway – Son #2 doesn’t see MIRTH and probably won’t until I’ve joined my mother-in-law, by which time it really won’t matter). He was young at the time, but not that young. He didn’t confess this to me for several days, by which time the Play-Doh had hardened into a plug, which scared him. We were visiting my parents at the time, far away from home – finding a rural doctor who’d see a stranger immediately was quite an adventure (fortunately my father has “drag,” as my brother puts it). The doctor did something I hadn’t thought to do: He looked into the kid’s other ear. “Ah ha!” said he. “ I see we have a matched set!”
That was my first experience with ear flushing. No wonder my kid hated it. At the time, I thought it was a very just punishment, and a base part of me enjoyed watching him suffer. I was suffering, too, in a different way – the proud mother of a kid who for some inexplicable reason chose to push Play-Doh deeply into his ears in front of my own parents, who raised me to raise him better.
I wonder if Play-Doh still smells the same? And if, after mashing the colors up together, it still turns that awful purplish gray color? Does it leave the same weird coating on your hands? I might have to get me a Sweet Shoppe Cake Mountain Playset and find out.
Getting my hands on a Special Frosting Extruder has nothing to do with it.