I recently had dental work and dental and health care offices are requiring everyone to still wear COVID-19 masks (where I live masks are no longer mandatory in most places and vaccines are available for those 12 and up). As I was sitting in the chair having my teeth worked on I realized my distortions and hearing loss from my Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) have made it so voices really resemble the “wah, wah, wah” sound of adults in a “Peanuts” cartoon (by Charles Schulz). (Check out this video for what I mean.) Usually my ability to lip read assists me and if people are physically close to me I have any easier time deciphering what is said. However, masks 😷 have made lip reading/ speech reading not an option. So what happens is people wearing masks sound like adults from a Peanuts cartoon… forever.
I discuss this hearing distortion and give a book review in this post.
It’s been nearly five years that I have been living in my post-accident TBI distorted aural mess so I usually feel like I have it somewhat under control. I know what I can hear, what I can’t and technology and tools to help when I need it. However, I occasionally still get knocked for a loop when I am presented with a new symptom or obstacle. COVID-19 and the use of face masks has created another blow to my hearing and distortions. Since face masks take away my ability to speech read it has had me frustrated and scrambling for assistive technology. I have found several apps and websites that transcribe and that has helped (I mainly use Ava on my iPhone and Google Chrome live captions for my computer).
It wasn’t until my experience at the dentist that I clearly visualized what voices hidden by masks sound like. Since we have been experiencing very hot weather here that is knocking me for a loop and causing me to delay my blog post, I thought I would provide some links to some fun articles about the “Peanuts” adult voice effect in order to put out a blog post (but it’s also interesting).
- “The story of Wah Wah and other ‘Peanuts’ specials secrets” (Mashable article): Includes a depiction of how the sound effect is made (hint: it’s a musical instrument).
- “The Reason Adults Are Never Visible in Charles Schulz’s Peanuts Comic Strips” (mental floss article): Includes quotes from Peanuts creator Charles Schulz (from a 1970s interview) about why adults don’t appear in his cartoon.
- “Adults” page on the Peanuts Wiki/Fandom (Fandom page): This fan-generated website lists and shows examples of how adults are portrayed in the Peanuts cartoon.
- “Adults by Schulz” (Schulz Museum page): A page from the Schulz museum about an exhibit about another comic strip of Schulz’ called “Hagemeyer” that featured adults.
- “Three ‘lost’ Charles Schulz strips have been rediscovered. Do they show the adult Lucy Van Pelt?” (Washington Post article): Discusses the Hagemeyer comic strip.
So now you know what voices sound like to me. The Peanuts adult “wah wah” effect for me applies to not just masked voices, but voices in various scenarios (such as further away).
Monthly Feature of the week: A Book Review
I recently finished “Such a Fun Age” by Kiley Reid. It’s her debut novel from 2019. And this book was getting talked about after the racial and social unrest following the murder of George Floyd in 2020. I have read nonfiction books about race but because the real world was stranger than fiction for a long time (especially where I live in Minnesota), I found it comforting to read actual fiction that discussed race. “Such a Fun Age” is the story of 25 year-old Emira Tucker who is navigating through her 20s by working as a babysitter for a wealthy white family in Philadelphia. Race and themes of loyalty, possession and drive all propel this book to enter discussions of race in the United States in present day.
From my GoodReads review: “I haven’t read a book that introduced well-constructed characters that acted, spoke and behaved like real people in a while. Usually characters have a little stiff artifice to them. Reid’s characters were beautifully real. The plot also moves along nicely with Reid dropping breadcrumbs of interest just when I felt like I could finally put down the book and catch some shuteye (needless to say that I read through the night).”