Not that I’m becoming an expert on earplugs or anything (I am) but I have discovered some foam ones with quite a useful feature. The official, technical term for this feature is “slow rebound” but to you and I, it’s “foam that takes a while to bounce back”.
I realise how niche this post is and I do apologise, but slow rebound earplugs are possibly something you’ll require at some point in your life. Imagine this: you decide to make a monumental career leap and start your own business. You have no money for an office so you will either a) work from home or b) work from a cafe. Both locations will offer up their own particular noise problems, whether it’s the constant clinking of coffee cups and whooshing of the bean machine or your kids using all of the pans in the kitchen to create the world’s most annoying percussion instrument.
Perhaps you’ve never needed earplugs yet, but you may also not have reached the point in your life when you turn into Victor Meldrew, finding everyone and everything excruciatingly irritating. Maybe you’ve never had to travel by train in London, where 98% of the population insist on listening to their music so loudly the whole carriage is enveloped in a sound cloud of hissing, ticking beats.
It’s possible you’ve never had to endure a night in a hotel room where the walls are paper thin and the person next door enjoys entertaining prostitutes (2006, Milan) or playing drinking games until 4am (2012, LA) or shouting through a Skype call for three hours (2004, Paris).
It’s also very likely that you’re simply not as highly strung as I am and so have never felt the need to block out the world in a sensory-deprivation kind of way, but what I’m trying to say is that there’s always time to change. Today you’re normal, tomorrow you could be just like me.
In other words: carry on reading, because slow rebound foam might one day be your jam.
Where was I? Yes. MPOW earplugs. I’ve tried many brands, now, but never “MPOW” and I liked that they sold 60 pairs of foamy ear delights in a huge plastic jar. Some people like to keep sweets in a jar on their desk, some have little collections of matchbooks or stamps or rubber erasers that they’ve picked up from various business meetings. Others have a succulent plant, or one of those weird spiky ones that lives in stones and that needs no watering. I have none of these desk displays, but I am now the person who displays earplugs. If only they were all different colours and not just yellowy green, I’d feel a lot happier about this new personality development, but hey ho.
Foam earplugs are not all made the same, by the way – they have different densities, blocking out different levels of sound, and some are larger or smaller to cater for particularly gargantuan or petite ear canals. The ones I’ve bought are self-adjusting to many sizes, apparently, but I would have thought that is just the nature of the beast when you’re talking about shape-shifting foam that moulds to its surroundings…
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Anyway the real feature here is – as I may have mentioned – the slow rebound foam. If you’ve ever tried to roll an earplug to get it into the long, skinny shape it needs to be before you can insert it into your earhole then you’ll know the significance of the rebound speed. Too snappy and you have no chance – the little worm of foam has expanded before you’ve even reached your entry point. You become demented trying to roll and insert, roll and insert, never quite getting it right, always feeling the foam expand prematurely whilst its still in the outer cavern of your ear. Which isn’t good – you need it to fill the tunnel, not block the entrance. Hoho.
The MPOW ones give you so much time to roll and insert that you could probably conduct a symphony whilst you’re waiting for the silence to descend; you roll, you push in, you have the peculiar experience of feeling the little twist of foam unrolling in the ear canal like a slowly-awakening maggot. If that image hasn’t completely put you off then let me tell you that the rebound time is – God, someone kill me! This is so boring! – forty-five seconds. Forty-five seconds! Enough time to run down stairs, bolt the front door (the only thing about wearing earplugs is that it makes you very paranoid about people creeping up on you), grab the baseball bat (the only thing about wearing earplugs is that it makes you very par – oh) and get back into your bed/chair before total silence is achieved.
So far today I’ve missed three parcels, eight phone calls and successfully ignored a very annoying fly that’s trapped behind my Velux blackout blind. I even ate my lunch with my earplugs in, which admittedly is slightly disconcerting – you can hear your own jaw muscles working and your teeth crunching together. But who needs telly when you have your own body sounds? It’s like the ultimate “go within” meditation!
If you don’t want to have to “roll and insert” then I take a look at some other favourite earplugs.
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