I was lucky enough to have two ears that still function reasonably well, despite years of auditory abuse in the form of screaming parents, screaming teachers and blasting classic rock, sometimes all three at once. I was also blessed with dual language capabilities in both ears. My blessings in the talent department pretty much ended there. So, in the absence of any other gifts, like filthy-rich parents, drop-dead-handsome good looks, or just steady dumb luck, I felt compelled to use this gift to help others who were less fortunate in linguistics, and, also, to pay bills. I started working as a medical interpreter on line. The job involves all kinds of patients in all kids of medical settings. I help the medical personnel communicate with the language-deficient patients or parents of minor patients, when universal hand gestures, amateur pantomime, and loudly repeating the same words won't suffice. Sometimes, all I do is stand by throughout most of an interpreting session, waiting for my time to shine by injecting some coherent understanding to one party or the other, mostly in the form of a "yes" or a "no", or, the occasional "Your appointment is not today, it's next week. And it's not with us, it's with the dentist. We're a proctologist practice. The other end!" Other times, just silence or the beeping and buzzing of medical equipment in the background. Or music. On a good day, the music would be a happy nurse humming a joyous song from happier times while beating on a comatose patient's scull with various medical hand tools for percussion. On a bad day, which technically means almost always, there is only music, or something that remotely resembles music, when the patient is a minor and has been pre-programmed by the parents to sit or lie still only when facing a small screen making loud sounds that someone has apparently mistaken for musical tones. This morning, I've been listening to the infamous Baby Shark song during a procedure for a two-year-old. Non-stop, for nearly three hours now. I had never listened to the song in its entirety before. For those of you new or foreign to the modern infant-rearing techniques or to the whole internet thing, this song is more catchy than your average COVID variant. To achieve this feat of musical engineering, the composers have used an ingenious formula. Their hook is a simple melody and an incomprehensible jingle of sorts about a baby shark. They then repeat the same jingle for each member of the shark household. We're up to third cousins on mom's side. One of the nurses, who proudly declared that she minored in marine biology, informed us that shark family trees go back thousands of years. That's a lot of relatives, living and dead. I'm thinking we'll be here way past lunch. Well into next shark season. Thank you for the heads up, nurse! Maybe I will gnaw on my pencil for nutrition, since I don't have to take notes other than note which relative has just been honored with a series of letters set to music. Mostly d's, o's and t's, the best I can figure. A continuous loop of shark genealogy. Musical mayhem with no guitar solos with creaky riffs. Just one simple beat and one marine lifeform. Kind of a seafood festival for the ears. By the two-hour mark, I could feel a fin-like growth on my spine in my back. At two and a half hours, I had the sudden urge to eat some raw seafood. Or any shiny object fluttering within my eyesight. It occurred to me that this song could be used in modern warfare to break the enemy's will. I googled it, and, it turns out, it is banned as a weapon of mass destruction by international treaty, an addendum to the Geneva Convention. So, too inhumane for warring armies tasked with destruction and death, but perfectly fine for innocent bystanders, medical staff, and interpreters alike. I also looked up "snacking on lead pencils". Not a very good source of vitamins and nutrients, it turns out. Most nutritionists are not big fans of heavy metals, if the posts are to be believed. I kept chewing on the wood part of the pencil, hoping the esteemed nutritionists at least liked classic rock. We're finally at the paternal branch of the family tree. And the procedure is far from over. It will be time for dinner by the time this song ends. I'm thinking sushi. In the bath tub. I don't even know why.
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