The Old Coot scratches an itch

It always happens when your hands are full and you can’t do anything about it. An itch! So deep in your ear, it reaches your back teeth. It’s strong; it’s driving you nuts; you must scratch. You free up a hand and try to appease the tingle with a finger, but the human anatomy is inadequate for this task. Even your little finger won’t do.  

Medical professionals have drummed it into our heads, “Don’t put anything smaller than an elbow in your ear! Especially, a Q-tip!” Which is what many of us think they were made for, a perfect design: firm, bendable and with a soft padded tip that wouldn’t hurt a fly. But no! It’s taboo, “Don’t stick a Q-tip in your ear.” 

So? What are we to do when that deep itch hits? Most old guys I know use a car key. I hear a Ford key works best, but any “ear” key will do the trick. Except, the new car keys that automobile manufacturers are switching to. They are square, fig newton size, electronic devices with a surface area larger than your elbow, thus not forbidden to use for an ear itch, but simply of no use for the task at hand. 

I won’t mention the entire list of items, like tooth picks, straws, screwdrivers and unfolded paper clips that my fellow violators of the “smaller than your elbow” law use all the time. I discovered the best paper clip for this task when I was 18 years old and working as a co-op student in the engineering department of a company in Auburn, New York. They stocked a unique (to me) paper clip that was square in shape, with the ends twisted in circles. Unfolded, they appeared perfect for slipping into your ear. I thought these odd shaped fasteners were only used in engineering environments where it was important to keep technical papers securely clipped together. I eventually discovered that they were readily available in stationary stores (owl clips), but they cost more and most business don’t buy them. Maybe more would be sold if they were put on the shelf next to Q-tips in drug stores. 

Two of my daughters have master’s degrees in audiology. They will surely be on my case when they read this. But, what can you do with an itch you can’t scratch? Make an appointment with an ear, nose and throat doctor? Run to the emergency room? So, I use a key. Not a Ford key, but a Jeep key. It works just as well. DISCLAIMER – Don’t try this at home kids!     

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