CAL: When I was a freshman in college, is a really cliched way to start a story. I really can’t believe I just started that way. “When I was a freshman in college.” “When I was your age.” Wow, I sound like such an asshole. I’m sorry about that. But the story really does happen, OK, so I was a freshman, and somehow I hadn’t … um … I was … OK you’re not supposed to use Q-tips for you inner ear. They actually say on the package that you’re not supposed to put them inside your ear. But everyone does, right? That’s like their main use, yeah? So anyway, I guess I had been doing that too much because, this is kinda gross, but wax had pretty much built up in my ear to the point that it was causing me pain. Like my ear was really sore and blocked up, and everything sounded muffled, like I was hearing everything underwater. It happens to people all the time, apparently. I’ve talked to other people who have had that happen. It’s super easy to take care of. You just kinda clean out your ear, and then you can hear again, and the pain goes away. But for a few days, I walked around with this blocked, muffled ear, and the entire world sounded like it was just out of reach. I couldn’t hear it clearly. That’s the sensation I got when the doctor told me. Actually, I carried it for a few days. Just couldn’t get the sounds to sound right. Like I was underwater. My head’s been swimming. I don’t know, it’s hard to collect my thoughts. There are so many. But I keep coming back to something Jason said. Or Mitch, maybe. I don’t know, that meeting was a blur. It’s a really good story. There’s so much noise, and you can’t really hear anything. So much in the world to deaden the sounds and muffle everything. Why clear it out? Why not give myself something to focus on? Give everyone else something to focus on. A story. And then, maybe, I’ll be able to hear? I don’t know. That doesn’t make sense maybe. It’s hard to collect my thoughts. My head’s been swimming.

Michael Smallwood is an actor, playwright, director, and teacher. His previous playwriting efforts have won awards from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

Stay cool. Support City Paper.

City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.