What’s an Eargo?

March 24, 2010

Cross country flights are tough, unbearable if your “I am so cool, I don’t need to plan in advance” attitude is rewarded with  a “middle seat”.

I boarded ahead of my seatmates, something I always do, its easy – I just board with the first boarding group called (trust me the airline does not care and its the only sure way to get a spot in overhead storage), but the real reason I pre-board is that it affords me the guilty pleasure of using the fuselage as my laboratory for social experimentation.

I enjoy watching people walk down the aisle – sizing them up as they inconspicuously count the rows ahead, scoping their seat, hoping its not next to the the sweaty guy (me)?   I like to see if I can detect a shift in their body language, I always assume I can.  I am not immune to preferences, I’ve been known to produce a low celebratory fist pump when a fat guy or hip hoppin’ Hispanic walks past and I always manage to remain passive-romantic as I hold out onto the belief that perhaps the mousy cute girl with the macbook pro who (I assume) was making eyes at me, will boldly approach a flight attendant and request a seat change because she is just certain that I am her long lost BFF.

Actually it must appear sort of odd for the first few passengers boarding an empty plane with just one random guys sitting in the 19th row.  If I saw this I would logically assume that random guy was a secret US Marshall but to my knowledge No one else has made that assumption about me.

Things turned out pretty favorable for me this week.  A tiny non-english speaking Asian woman on the aisle and a naturally attractive (but not overly good looking) woman on the window.  The attractive girl is likely named Nora or something cool like that, I bet I could have known her actual name too if the rest of this story had not occurred.
About three hours into the flight Norah must have peeked at my Ipod (a clear and accepted form of airline flirtery) tapped me on the shoulder and complimented my listening choice.  She then went on to inquire if I heard the new So and So’s CD, I am not sure if I had even answered her when she produced a Y shaped listening device which allowes two sets of headphones to plug into one Ipod (a gadget geek chick? Yes!).  After the song I removed my headphones to comment and it felt….different.

Upon inspection my earphone resembled an emaciated distant cousin of the pair I own.  I first thought: How embarrassing …whose headphone are those?  Quickly oh too quickly the minor whoops of…sorry I put your shit in my, became…..The rubber bud is missing, how? what?  I didn’t even know that thing could come off – WTF…..where’s the tip?  FUCK! WHERE IS THE TIP?

Not on my shoulder, not in my lap, not in seat cushion.  Panic mode- I have to find the bud because if its not somewhere in this plane, if it didn’t somehow pop out and roll undetected down the aisle then…..then its still in my head and I say head because I cannot see nor feel it inside of my ear so I am thinking odds are that its very far up in my head (mind you, my head is not small, this profoundly compounds the issue, this was not so delicately stated later on by airline staff “that bud is just FAR TOO LARGE to be inside your head)  They were wrong

Likely annoyed by all the fidgeting, Nora asks what’s wrong, actually, more like, “What’s wrong with you?”  Obviously embarrassed, I figure I will ask a gateway question and maybe she can help me out. I ask her she has seen my ear bud.  She pretends to look for like half a second – why isn’t she looking harder?

Nora, “Nope”  Dan, “Umm…. can you actually get up so I can look under the seats?

I sense that maybe Nora is starting to get concerned (and not for my safety) but moreover Nora looks smart, well bookish anyway, she probably knows some shit…. teacher, nurse whatever….. this is where my head was at when I asked  “Do you know how far the ear goes in?  Like, do you think it goes all the way, like to your brain?”

Nora, “Ummmmm………HUH?”

In my mind I am imagining the emergency medical procedure to remove this earbud from my septic sinuses unless of course if I swallow it and its never found, this thing is rubber, it won’t show up on an X-Ray, I will be checking my stools…..OH NO,  I HAVE TO KNOW!  Against every social instinct I have honed I ask again, this time  s l o w e r “How far does the ear go, do you know?”

[Now looking at this situation from the window seat this all seems sorta crazy, there is a low threshold for crazy on planes these days. A slightly sweaty but seemingly normal guy, listens to one song which apparently incited him to start jabbing a finger into his ear, checking then rechecking his pockets, standing, muttering and finally asking non-nonsensical anatomy questions]

The look Nora gave to me was clear, I had become a muttering schizophrenic in her eyes.

Her final words to me were, “What is an ear-go-do-you-know?


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