My teenage daughter fell in love with the Marvel Universe a couple of years ago. I think it started with Tom Holland’s Spiderman and then morphed into Robert Downey Jr. and Iron Man and all the other characters. You know, most of those guys are “hot.”
We were watching the Hawkeye mini series this past week and a few things occurred to me. For starters, I feel like Jeremy Renner’s character, Clint Barton, is my spirit animal because he can’t hear worth a damn. The only difference is he has a hearing aid and I haven’t accepted my ears as a handicap yet.
I’ve got every excuse in the book for my bad hearing – and I swear sometimes the excuses are legit. I’m like a high-functioning alcoholic who thinks they’re normal.
I don’t have a problem! YOU have a problem!
Stop talking to me while you’re walking out of the room.
Stop talking while the radio is turned up.
Don’t speak under your breath.
Enunciate your words and don’t talk while the kids are yelling in my other ear.
In one episode Clint was told by a completely deaf character that if he’d stop relying on his hearing aid maybe he’d be better at listening and communicating. But I have an entire posse of family and friends who would say I’d be a much better listener with an aid.
My favorite (sarcasm) part about having hearing loss is the frustration that’s directed toward me when someone has to repeat themselves multiple times. Of course, their frustration makes me feel bad. So the next time I don’t hear or understand something, I pretend I heard them the first time rather than ask them to clarify. Problem solved, right? What could possibly go wrong when I do that?
The other thing that occurred to me from the Hawkeye series was the subtle differences between the good guys and the bad guys. In most of the cases, none of them are truly “bad guys.” They’re just angry, confused, misguided people; trying to avenge the death of a loved one. Their hearts are in the right place. It’s just that each of them are looking at the world from a different position based on what has happened to them. If they’d all just calm down and attempt to relate to each other, they’d probably find some middle ground.
Do you see any real-world parallels in that?
I will never be a restaurant and bar owner, but I have some advice for those who are or who aspire to be:
The bar area should always be low-light.
I’ve been inside far too many establishments where the bar is lit up like a Christmas tree. This makes no sense. The drunks who sit at the bar want to hunker down in anonymity, not feel like they’re on stage.
I’ve sat at some of these bars and I promise you there’s something uncomfortable about it, even if you’re just having a beer and a sandwich.
My earliest memory of bar ambience was the bowling alley. My junior league started at 8 a.m. and ended a couple of hours later. By that time you could bet there’d be grownups inside the bar, smoking up their Marlboros and nursing longnecks. I couldn’t go in there, of course. I was only 10. But I could see inside and it was as black as you could imagine, with slivers of light highlighting the clouds of cigarette smoke. Maybe you’d catch a glimpse of a silhouette and you’d feel like you were witnessing the dirty underworld. If you walked in there you might never come out, or if you did you knew you’d never be the same.
The bar was never intended to be a family-friendly experience.
(Get more tips on owning bars and other life hacks from Brad Carl by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org)