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Hear: this bud's for you

I’ve always taken pretty good care of my ears. For instance, I never put anything in them smaller than my elbow. But I am having audio problems and I am beside myself … just like my ears. 

Here’s my issue. We’re getting ready to take a vacation out to the West Coast and I dread the long plane flight. I have some interesting books and music I can download on my phone, but to enjoy hearing them requires that I either wear headphones or earbuds. Mary Ellen says if I wear headphones on the trip, it will look like I am making fun of the guys who flag the plane into the gate. So, I needed to find a really good set of earbuds. The ones I have now are terrible. I’ve lost the foam covers, and now they don’t stay in place. If the right one falls out and dangles alongside my neck, the left one loosens and lands in my beverage. Often when I’m riding my bicycle, the entire wire falls and gets tangled in the greasy chain. Once when I was driving my car, I leaned over to get something out of my glove compartment, hooked the wire on my gear shift and almost strangled myself. 

I thought I was alone in my plight but apparently there are others suffering in silence. Literally. According to an article in the New York Times, two out of 10 people endure a disorder called Earbud Cartilage Deficiency Syndrome, sometimes known as ECDS, but if you’re looking for a good laugh at a cocktail party, you really need to say all those complete words out loud. For every 20 ears out there, four are having a heck of a time keeping it all together. My wife does not have this problem, by the way. She is cartilaginously well-endowed and, I am proud to say, it is all natural.

One techie website reports that people with this problem lack an antitragus in the ear canal, which is “a small tubercle that points anteriorly and is separated from the tragus by the intertragic notch.” Sorry to bore you with the obvious. 

To combat this abnormality, somebody needs to pay a lot more attention to product specifications. Here’s a description of a set of earbuds on eBay: “Full metal housing, cold forged from solid aluminum, anodized finish, with a tactile ID system, flexible joints and a full spectrum of hyper-balanced micro drivers.” Am I buying earbuds or a lunar module? I also discovered that earbuds have funny names like M&Ms and Strawberry Cupcakes. If you told people you were putting M&Ms in your ears, they’d think you weren’t eating right. 

On one website you can get a fun pack of earbuds in three different sizes for only $69.95. OK, some people have two different-sized ears. I get that. But I think the market for three mismatched ears has limited sales potential.

Maybe I should stop obsessing about this. In my senior years, I’m already dealing with failing vision, sinus problems and a receding hairline. I don’t need to be distracted by side issues.

Dick Wolfsie is an Indianapolis TV personality.