Has surf made you partially deaf too? Here's a cure!
A few years ago, I made pals with a deaf Jew big-wave surfer. Beautiful guy (for one of them baby-eating, Palestinians-under-the-jackboot Jews). He was so good at lip-reading the only giveaway that his ears were bolt-ons was the tonal honk when he spoke, although it did come across as a little Occy-esque.
Idor Dar-el charges trinkets at Cloudbreak and is poetic when it comes to describing surfing in silence.
“It’s the best thing to being one with the wave,” he says. “The energy of the wave engulfs you. The senses are heightened to smell and taste and being aware of the surrounding. It sounds real corny but you hear the ocean from the heart. It’s similar to hearing people who dive in the silence of the depths.Imagine hearing the thundering set waves, the foamball inside the tube, though your eyes, through the body.”
Ido says he’ll “never forget the only time I actually heard a tube at Zicatela (Puerto Escondido) riding at full speed on a thick seven-six, a brown, dark, sand-sucking cave and the… kaboom… in my ears just before being spat out into the light. I had tears of joy. It was so emotional.”
After talking to Ido in Israel I figured, wouldn’t be such a bad thing to lose the speakers. I, too, might become poetic. Gifted the keys to the metaphysical.
And then it actually happened.
A few months of cold winds, cold water and my left ear was as useful as a six-ten gun in Filipe Toledo’s quiver. Full of water. Wouldn’t come out.
I had it cleaned a couple of times. Fished around with my finger every minute of every day, retrieving wax, balls of sand, sometimes blood.
In conversation, I had to narrow my eyes in concentration and twist my good ear towards whomever was talking to me. Pals would shout hello and I would’t hear a damn thing. In the water, I my heart beat loudly in my dud ear and it had that swishing sound you associate with water footage that hasn’t had the music applied.
I knew ear plugs would stop the problem from getting any worse, and would even gradually cure it as the water dripped out, but who wants to accept deafness in the water as a cure for deafness on land?
And, as someone who’s gonna fight the ravages of ageing all the way to my hole in the ground, ear plugs are as sexy as hooded bonnets and ten-foot long fun boards.
Then, I happened to be talking to Tom Carroll for a political book project (the two-time world champ boycotted South Africa in the eighties because of the White Devil’s apartheid there), we were talking about how shitty it is to be deaf, and he suggested I might wanna look up Surf Ears, a company he’s involved in.
The difference in these things was you can hear. You sit in the water, you can talk, there’s no heart-beat, no water swishing around.
So I get a pair.
They ain’t cheap. Sixty-five dollars in Australia, an equivalent price elsewhere. I don’t pay, of course. (Review set!) But after using ’em every day, and then losing ’em in a carpark somewhere, I tap in my credit card numbers and I buy a new set.
They’re that good.
I hear. I joke. Pals greet me in the water.
And they look relatively slick given their unsavoury job.
I recommend. ‘Cause deaf ain’t fun.