Thursday, October 16, 2003

The Good, The Bad, and the Plug-ly

It's an interesting thing to be married to a man who falls asleep in about 2.3 seconds, when you are a woman who falls asleep in about 2.3 hours.

But it ceases to be interesting when he starts snoring in about 2.4 seconds.

Putting a small TV with a sleep timer in the bedroom helped a little, since David Letterman at a volume of 5 can take the edge off the zzzz-zzzzz-zzzz buzz-saw of a snoring man. But, taking the edge off doesn't really help once my mind starts to focus in on the snoring. And, the snoring isn't your typical loud snorrrrrrrre. No, that would be too easy to tune out. Instead, he snores by breathing in in a regular snore-noise. Then his exhale-snore sounds like he's puffing out a little puff of air: pppppuhhhhhh!

So, it's: Zzzzzzzzzz ...[wait two seconds]... pppuhhhh!
Zzzzzzzz ...[two seconds]... pppuhhhhh!

So, I lie there in the dark, hearing the first part


and ... just ... waiting ... silently ... for the ... second ... part ... where is it? where is it? one ... two ...


Whew. Was beginning to wonder if he'd just stopped breathing there for a minute. Yeah, that's real easy to fall asleep to.

So, after trying to spend the rest of the night on the sofa (a colossally bad idea when you own a really old sectional sofa, with bumps where the sections meet), in an act of pure self-preservation (and hoping to get back into the bed with my snuggly one), I searched the shelves of the health and beauty department in Wal-Mart the other day and bought a bag of little green foam ear plugs.

I was amazed to find they sell ear plugs at all. Turns out they even have them listed on the little overhead aisle marker sign:

Contact Lens Solution
Eyeglass Accessories
Ear Plugs

Yes, they're apparently that popular. It's my lucky day. So now I know more about ear plugs than I ever thought I'd need to know. I figured IF they even had these things, they'd have just these little plastic cork-like things stashed in a corner somewhere. One size. One brand. No descriptions. Just, "Here are your ear plugs. They plug your ears. Now you can't hear. Now go away."

Oddly, though, they had about ten different brands, styles, colors (colors? what's that about?) and NRR. I think NRR stands for Noise Reduction Range. Apparently the higher the number, the better. The ones I got had a NRR of 29 decibels. You start with 100. Then you subtract their NRR of 29. That means these things leave you "hearing" 71 decibels of normal hearing range. Or something like that.

Anyway, the 29 was one of the higher ones they had (I think only the 32 was higher, but they looked weird -- not that most ear plugs don't look weird).

So for a coupla bucks I came home with ten pairs of these little pieces of green foamy stuff shaped like little bullets. You're supposed to twist these things (like you used to make snakes out of Play-Doh) till they're really skinny, then tug the top of your ear out (to straighten out the ear canal, yeah, whatever), and then doink this skinny green foamy thing into your ear and hold it there till the foam balloons back up and takes the shape of your ear.

Then repeat with the other ear. (Duh.)

The first night I used these things I put them in as I finished my nightly reading in bed. Wayne was still out working on his computer. I settled in for the night and he came in. I could barely hear anything. Naturally, this is the night he crawled into bed and started talking to me nonstop. I said (probably too loudly), "I can't hear you much at all. I have these ear plugs in so I won't hear your snoring."

Naturally, he answered me. A lot. And every time I added, "I can't really hear you," he kept talking. On purpose. Probably trying to test whether or not I could really hear him. I can't begin to imagine what he was saying to me. Well, yes I can, but I'd rather not put that writing. I could hear him chuckling as he talked. Not a good sign.

In the middle of the night I had to get up to use the bathroom, and walking to and from the bathroom sounded like I was walking underwater. Very weird experience to be moving around and up and about and hardly able to hear anything.

When I came back to bed, Wayne was snoring. I could hear it. Granted, I could barely hear it, but I could hear it. Same rhythm. Same noises. The worst part of the ear plugs was, obviously, that this was now all I could hear. There were no extraneous noises of the cat upstairs or the whistling noise the old refrigerator makes in the next room. That was all mercifully muffled out by the ear plugs ... leaving only the muted zzzzhhhh ... ppphhhuhhhhhhh of my sleeping husband.

As I lay there contemplating various forms of suicide, I must have somehow fallen asleep anyway. Apparently muted snoring isn't as insomnia-producing as full-blown snoring.

My only concern now is whether or not these little green foamy things are reusable or not. Doesn't really say on the package, but:

a) There are ten pair in the package. Why would there be ten pair if they were reusable?

b) Even though I clean my ears daily with cotton swabs, I keep wondering what kind of ear gunk is now on the little green foamy things -- gunk I won't see because, well, they're foamy and they're ... green.

I am waiting for the time when these are the biggest problems in my day. Till then, I'll fret over the plugs the same way I fret over everything else: with gusto.



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