Nashville, TN, February 17, 2012 (Swimmer’s Ear)

Friday morning I rode my bike to Bongo Java so I could catch my assistant manager and ask her about scheduling, but she wasn’t there. Tate, a young guy from Belmont whom I worked with once, was behind the counter and he gave me a free cup of coffee. I sat and read until I felt hungry and then I got a refill of coffee and an egg sandwich.

I smoked a cigarette with Tate while he was on his break. I was calm, relatively. The weather was fine. I breathed deeply and enjoyed the feeling of the cool air and the sunlight.

I asked Tate what his plans were after he graduated college. That’s one of those things you ask about. He explained that he wants to move to—no, I can’t go on, that’s his business. But I know that life sometimes throws you curve balls, he said. You better believe it, I replied.

I went swimming after that and pumped iron. I experienced the same philosophical dilemmas detailed in another post, which prevented me from really pumping to my max. When I got out of the pool my left ear was filled with water, and it wasn’t going to come out. I had even used ear plugs, to no avail.

Back at home the house was empty. There was a text on my phone from Lewis saying he’d be back in a few hours, then we would get dinner and go to the bar to get ripped.

I wasted time on the computer and a few times in the bathroom tried pouring alcohol into my stuffed-up ear, to no avail. I probably masturbated too, I have no specific memory of an onanistic moment, but that seems like something I would have done. I know myself, in that respect. When Lewis got back I renewed the effort. Unclogging my stuffed-up ear, that is. First I had him pour more alcohol into it—perhaps he might have more luck getting it in the right spot. It occurred to me that since the alcohol hadn’t helped before, perhaps all I was doing was making it worse. I pushed this worry aside. All that came of it was that rubbing alcohol splashed on the side of my face and in my hair.

After that, Lewis had the idea that we needed to use some kind of device to assure that the alcohol got where it needed to go, namely, into the ear canal. By now I admit I was troubled that copious amounts of alcohol had already been poured, to no avail. I was beginning to feel pain.

In a small sandwich bag with a hole poked in the corner Lewis poured some alcohol. This time I lay on the floor and he used the bag to aim. I waited for a few moments while the alcohol sat in my ear canal. Relief will come as soon as I sit upright, I thought. Nothing of the sort. There were some noises in my head, a little sloshing and swishing, but my hearing remained just as impaired, if not more.

I consulted several ehow pages in hopes of discovering different remedies. One suggested gargling with salt water. It didn’t make sense to me how that would change anything, but I tried it. Another page suggested using vinegar, so using the same make-shift device, Lewis poured vinegar into my ear as I lay down on the floor of my room. This also did nothing, and may have made it worse. It certainly stank.

I resolved to let it go—the water would make its way out naturally, in due time. I had to hurry up and wait, as the saying goes. But I couldn’t concentrate on anything else. Finally, in a fit of sheer desperation, I went to the drug store to see what they had to offer. I procured an ear wax clearing solution, speculating that my ear wax was trapping the water in there. I consulted the pharmacist, but she had no advice to offer that wasn’t already on the internet. Scary times we live in, when the internet is just as helpful as a real person.

First I tried the ear wax removal solution. This entailed putting it in the effected ear and lying down for about five minutes while the stuff helped loosen things up. When I stood up fluid seemed to be pouring out of my ear, but I couldn’t be sure if it was just the original solution, or liquefied wax. I felt underwhelmed. But trying to stay optimistic, I reasoned that this was merely step one—there was no longer wax blocking the water, but that water still needed help getting out. So Lewis got his make-shift alcohol dropper and doused my ear a second time. It was a failure and not only that, the pain was worse.

I felt defeated. Instead of going out for dinner, we ordered a pizza, and after eating I went to bed early.