KEEP YOUR VOICE DOWN. IT'S DRIVING ME NUTS.
I can’t hear the friend sitting across the table but I can hear every obnoxiously loud talker nearby. Welcome to age-related hearing loss.
This is the Snarky Sunday edition of Snarky Senior — the newsletter from Erica Manfred, which you can read about here. If you like it and don’t want to miss an issue, you can get it in your inbox by subscribing.
I complain a lot about being lonely. Well-meaning friends ask why I haven’t met any new friends at the pool, since they know I spend a lot of time there. Ha!
I never had much patience for people, a personality trait that has only gotten worse as I age.
Pandemic anxiety doesn’t help and neither does being hard of hearing. I can’t hear the friend sitting across the table but the obnoxious loud talker three tables down is like a buzz saw, scraping my last nerve. It seems my brain has lost the ability to screen out ambient sound, an ability people with normal hearing possess.
It’s like being tortured twice—I can’t hear what I want to hear but I am tormented by all other noise.
My only escape from my apartment—and my constantly churning anxiety—is swimming. I live in a huge condo complex with 17 pools and there’s something unacceptable about all of them—mostly involving other people.
The pool I like best since it has a nice view of a wooded area, has the most obnoxious regulars.
Strange and very loud people seem drawn to this particular pool. And they’re all drawn to me.
One is an extremely skinny woman who wears a skimpy bikini and mumbles to herself constantly. If I even look at her sideways she’ll come over and start talking at me, or rather mumbling. She will keep on mumbling whether or not I respond but I have no idea about what since I can’t actually hear a word of it. This is when being hard of hearing comes in handy. I tell her I can’t hear her because I don’t have my hearing aids on and she goes away.
Another is a middle aged woman with a truly gargantuan abdomen. She looks nine months pregnant with twins and I suppose likes to show off her figure since she wears a tiny bikini which is dwarfed by the stomach. I try not to judge women on their appearance since I’ve been fat all my life but it’s hard not to stare.
She followed me to the pool bathroom one time because she heard me coughing and yelled through the stall door at me, “Are you ok, are you ok?” I tried to explained I cough a lot because I have COPD but she ignored me and kept asking repeatedly—in a loud voice— if I was OK. Then she cornered me on the pool deck, told me she’s a caretaker for the elderly and asked if I’d like to hire her. I was tempted to respond, “Maybe after you give birth,” but I restrained myself.
Then there’s the Trump supporter who harangues whoever will listen about how Biden couldn’t have possibly won the election.
“He spent the whole time in the basement. You can’t win an election from a basement.”
I try to block him out. I desperately don’t want to hear how heroic Donald Trump is secretly battling a vast army of satanic pedophile cultists.
The worst offender is an old guy who does not speak—he only shouts—with an extreme Long Island Goodfellas accent and liberal use of profanity. I swear I can hear him say “fuck” when I’m underwater. He either talks at the top of his lungs on his cellphone, or to a lady friend who accompanies him. Mystifyingly, she actually seems to enjoy his company.
Swimming is my meditation. It’s sacred time for me. It’s usually quiet in the pool. Or it was until a couple arrived who spend hours in the water floating on noodles listening to loud music on a player of some kind they have plunked at pool’s edge. The music is unidentifiable, generic rock distorted by being played through a miniscule speaker. I asked them to turn it off. They told me to get lost.
There are actually a couple of nice people at that pool. I consider them nice because neither of them actually attempt to speak to me. They just say hello, comment on the weather or water temperature and proceed to ignore me, which I appreciate. .
I’m afraid to talk to other old people because everyone is lonely, and initiating conversation or responding gives them tacit permission to harangue me. I am also cursed with being a good listener and find it impossible to harangue back.
I try to perfect my glower so people will leave me alone, but it’s a strain.
I’ve recently switched to another pool. The view sucks and it’s right on the main road so traffic is loud, but at least the regulars keep to themselves and traffic can’t talk.
I dread the end of the pandemic when the canasta and mahjongg players will gather around tables at the pools again and yell at each other. And ask me if I play canasta and when I say no, want to know why.
I really have to get rich and move to a house with a private pool.
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