Madness is in the Ear of the Beholder

ears hurt

by Joe Buonfiglio

I was going to bang out a nice little blog piece this week about the horrors of this unforgiving ultra-low-calorie diet I’m on, but assuming I don’t say “Fuck it!” over the next seven calendar days and dive into a bucket of chili-cheese fries, I’ll shelve that tidbit delving into the tribulations of my midriff until next week’s blog-post.


Because I woke up this morning with limited hearing in my right ear and tinnitus; incessant ringing, ringing, RINGING!


So at this point, my wife notices I’m in more than a little distress, shoots me her best “What the fuck?” look and inquires as to what’s wrong. Keeping in mind that I’m a depressed personality and a bit of a hypochondriac, she treads into these psychological badlands cautiously.

I explained to her that I awoke with this nonstop buzzing in my ear and, after consulting an article in a UK medical journal, I am quite certain that I have a brain tumor.

“What does WebMD have to say about it?” she queries with suspicion in her voice.

Ah, she knows me too well.

WebMD said there could be myriad reasons for the source of my sudden hearing trouble. My “fall sinuses” just kicked in, so it could be fluid in my ear. Malnutrition from the aforementioned diet could also do the trick. Have I been properly cleaning my ears lately? Something as simple as excessive wax buildup could be the culprit.

That last one isn’t very likely, however. My Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder won’t allow it. Hell, my family has to fight me off from going around armed with Q-tips trying to clean their ears, let alone not properly attending to my own.

Upon revealing this, brain tumors seemed to — at least for the moment — be off the table.

“Why don’t you make yourself a nice cup of tea? That should help you feel better,” she says as she exits the house. “I’m late for work. Bye.”

My wife is Irish. For them, there is nothing that can’t be cured with a foamy pint or a nice cup o’ tea.

“You’re wrong, you know!” I yell out as her car moves down the road. “You’ll see!”

She’ll miss me when I’m gone…. … … I think.

The ringing. It just won’t stop. The relentless sound in my ear, in my head, will not be silenced.

I begin to sing in a feeble and fruitless attempt at distraction.

All the chapel bells were ringing—

What? Am I nuts? Sing something else.

Silver bells. Silver bells. It’s Christmasti—

Still too “bellsy” … and definitely too Yuletide for September.

How about something from Bob Dylan? Uh. Oh, I know.

Ring them bells for the blind and the deaf;
Ring them bells for all of us who are—

Holy fuck! I think I’m actually descending into madness. Accompanied by my ear music, I’m singing my way into a virtual asylum of auditory damnation! Is there no relief for my devastated body, my collapsing mind, my weary soul?

I can’t stop singing, it’s ringing, in my head for—

Damn it! Even the great John Legend is out to get me.

I fell into a burnin’ ring of—

Fucking Johnny Cash!

And the bell goes: Ring-a-ding ding, ring-a-ding ding, ring-a-di—

OH, HELL NO! Even the Chairman of the Board is out to get me?! Mr. Sinatra, how could you do me so wrong?

You can ring my be-e-ell, ring my bell;
You can ring my be-e-ell, ring my bell;
You can ring my be-e-ell, ring my bell;
You can ring my be-e-ell, ring my—

MOTHERFUCKING BELL! AAAAAAAAAA-HAHAHAHAHAHA! RING MY BELL! RING MY BELL! I always knew disco would haunt me from my timeline; just a nasty little specter out to kill me! That’s what this ringing in my ear is! Disco is reaching out from the musical grave of a lost and loathed era to drag me to the hell of gaudy flared clothing designed to reflect the mirrored light of a disco ball from the soulless dark of 1970s Studio 54-wannabe clubs. I will not do The Hustle, you lyrical pimp! You can’t make me! No! Stop! Please! The ringing! The terrible ringing! Oh sweet God, will you not take pity on this wretched sinner? RING MY BELL! RING MY BELL! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

My wife comes home from work that evening to find me limp on the floor in a pool of my own urine, drooling some kind of latte-esque froth from my mouth.

“Tough day?” she inquires while checking to see if the pizza she has brought back for that night’s comestible fare is still hot.

“You could say that,” I mumble through the slobber on my lips.

“You hungry?”

“You know I’m on this diet.”

“You’re not still doing that crazy thing, are you? You’re gonna hurt yourself with that shit.”

GONNA hurt myself? Am I invisible? Can she not see the state I’m in?

She goes into the bedroom and grabs a blanket, drapes it over me as I lie on the cold, wood floor, and then grabs herself a slice to take to the kitchen table.

The doorbell rings. Repeatedly. Ring-ring-ring. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are just checking back to see if they might find me more willing to let God into my life this time.



Beauty might reside in the beholder’s eye, but clearly, madness is in the ear of the beholder. Now stop reading this shit and come over to my place. While my wife insists that I don’t have a brain tumor creating an unending ringing that’s driving me insane, there’s obviously the ghost of an 18th century town crier ringing a fucking handbell that’s somehow manifesting the space-time vortex that has materialized in my toilet … and you have to help me get it the hell out of there … before I bust a kidney … again. And, of course, somebody will have to do something about all the ri—


© 2015 Joseph P. Buonfiglio     All Rights Reserved.

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