Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Well, the visit with dear longtime friends  D and L started out with the usual sort of fun. But the fact that L couldn't hear a thing ever since leaving the plane was definitely putting a damper on our attempts at conversation. Ditto for Jim's busted leg.

So when we went to the farmacia to get Jim's post-operative medicine, L and I decided to have a little diagnostic chat with the nice pharmacy lady about how to restore L's hearing.

Hilarity ensued when she brought out a primitive-looking box that pictured a smiling woman lying down with what appeared to be a flaming ice cream cone sticking out of her ear. Now we are big fans of gelato, but it never would have occurred to us to stick it in our ear and set it on fire.

Despite the alarming photos on the box, the reassuring caption reads: "a natural remedy for a more healthy life." 

The box, however, proclaimed this a natural and time-tested cure for L's problem. L couldn't hear any of the conversation (and even if she had heard it, it was in Italian), but the fear on her face was instantly recognizable in any language. Signora La Farmacista reassured us that this flaming cone-in-the-ear treatment has long been safely used on unsuspecting Italian babies, and always with impressive results. Hmm...should we or shouldn't we?

At least the item in question was not expensive, and L thought her engineer husband who enjoys a little adventure might be thrilled for this chance to stick a flaming cone in his wife's ears. As you can see, she was right.

Here's D, looking like Le Penseur that he is.

Let's take a closer look. If Rodin had seen this pose, maybe he would have sculpted his "Thinker" statue differently. Doesn't L look relaxed for someone who has a flaming cone in her ear? I had to admire her sang-froid.

Moving on to ear #2:Doesn't D look as if he's having a little too much fun with this process? 

As a champion car racer, D knows a thing or two about remaining calm even in the face of flames in the ear. And three cheers for brave L, who was so sick of not hearing anything, that she was willing to give it a go. The farmacista who was laughing along with us wished us well and requested a full report.

Here's how things went. Note that since L's hair was already short enough, we did take the precaution of  covering her locks with a somewhat non-flammable cloth.

I don't know how D managed to keep a steady hand with all the laughing that was going on, but as you can see from the photos below, L emerged unscathed.
Here she is! Truth be told, the box generously came with a third cone that we could have set on fire, just in case there was a third blocked ear in the vicinity, or if the initial treatment did not produce the desired result. But L, who had had enough of being a good sport, did not want to press her luck, and proclaimed, "BASTA!"

Was the treatment effective? Well, for a brief time L's hearing seemed to have returned, and we are optimistic despite the info on the Internet that denounced ear candling as "an entirely worthless and highly dangerous procedure."

In any case, this will be another addition to the unforgettable experiences we have shared over many decades of friendship. We certainly got way more than six euros worth of laughs out of this product.

Now you know what passes for entertainment in the Umbrian countryside!

PS:Jim told me it might not be such a good idea to take pictures during such a delicate event, but did I listen?

(It should be noted that I, too, am a bit deaf (see TEMPUS FUGIT!:HOW DO I KNOW? MY PILLBOX TELLS ME S...) . So here you have it!)


Our friends made it back safely to England, but unfortunately that plane trip did not restore L’s hearing. This is the latest report:

“Well, having survived the Italian ear candles we visited the English doctors to see what Quackery they could offer!!!

The photos below tell the story, and amazingly just as she didn't catch fire in Italy, her head didn't explode in England. But it was just as much fun watching her ATTEMPTING to inflate the device!”

We are still waiting to hear if L can hear again. Me? I’m putting on my hearing aids!

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