“So, what is sweating pipes?” I ask.
He doesn’t hesitate. “It’s where you have a lot of pressure on your eardrum and the fluid builds up behind it until it bursts.” He pauses for effect. “The sound just comes out.”
“I never had that problem,” says my mother as she carefully examines her earlobe in the mirror above the sink. She turns to me with one eyebrow arched quizzically; she looks like an old woman who has just found something fascinating wedged between two cushions of her sofa (probably a credit card). “What about you? You’ve never had any trouble before.”
I shrug, pretending not to be bothered by this surprising turn of events but inside I’m boiling with rage—and embarrassment! It seems my family are all deaf except me; surely there must be some explanation for this strange correlation? Maybe they’re secretly conspiring against me or maybe they’re all secret anarchists bent on chaos and destruction… no! That can’t be right… can it? But why else would so many members of the same family suddenly start losing their hearing at exactly around the same time…. ? Perhaps they didn’t notice anything wrong because everyone was too busy talking crap about each other—that could work… how clever! Or perhaps they were listening more closely than normal during our dinner conversation earlier because we’d said something interesting… oh dear God please don’t let us talk about royalty again today