Field and Stream
A few unkind words for mumblers, jabberers, and whisperers—and a warning for shooters everywhere
Wear hearing protection now or spend your golden years saying “What?”
I’VE KNOWN I was losing my hearing since 1971. Most of my generation of shooters has gone deaf because when we started in the 1950s, no one wore ear protection. I could have stopped at any point, but a day without gunpowder is like a day without sunshine, so I went ahead and shot, and I am now paying for it.
There are four categories of deafness starting with One, where you have some trouble sometimes but don’t yet need hearing aids, to Four, where there’s nothing left at all. I’m high up in Category Three. I have digital, computer-tuned hearing aids that cost a fortune. They help, sometimes, but in the course of a day, I understand maybe 20 percent of what is said to me.
Most of my trouble comes from people who mumble, jabber, or whisper. When I can’t understand what people are saying, I turn my head so people can see my appliances, and say, courteously, “I’m profoundly deaf and can’t understand you unless you slow down, speak louder, and speak more distinctly.”
The results this produces are, in nearly all cases, zero. The people look flustered and then restart exactly as before, or else do what I ask for one sentence and then revert to mumbling, jabbering, or whispering.
Most deaf people simply give up. At a neighborhood
Christmas party a few years ago, I could not understand anyone so I found an empty room and spent the party with the neighbor’s Lab asleep in my lap.
As for all the mumblers, jabberers, and whisperers, Mark Twain summed up my feeling:
“I would that hell get them.”