Hook Up – What Does It Mean?


... even Elmo was surprised!


As I prepped for the blog post this week I found myself astonished. I’m not often ASTONISHED, and even more seldom “at a loss for words”. After all, I’m a motor mouth. I was going to blog about “Hook Up Day”, but started noticing the phrase in odd situations and places. It didn’t take me very long to discover that “hook up” to me meant something entirely different to other people.

I heard the phrase “hook up” on a BONES episode that my husband TIVO’d for us to watch. In the episode… it was very clear that “hook up” meant to meet for the purpose of having sex. I’m fairly sure my mouth dropped open. As a matter of fact – I’m certain. My husband turned to me and said, “Your mouth is hanging open! What’s up?”

With “fear and trembling” I tentatively managed to squeak out, “Ummm… what does HOOK UP mean?”

My husband could tell the response was important so he properly managed to hide a grin and look serious as he responded, “You mean in this show? It means meeting up to have sex”.

Seeing all my preparation for the post swirling around an empty, flushing commode in a colorful mental image, I stammered out, “Well… well… can it mean anything ELSE?”

Survey SAYS…

According to my 20-year-old daughter the phrase can mean a number of things. Yup, it can mean “sex”, but most of the time when she hears it is when it means other things. After all (she assured me) she doesn’t hang out with people that go around having casual sex. She informed me that “hook up” can mean to just meet up with someone… an arranged meeting.

My 19-year-old son said that he has only heard it in the entire phrase of “let’s hook up later and…” (fill in the blank). He insisted (and rightly so being that he was talking to ME) that it never meant sex in the crowd he hung out with at school.

I asked a “30-something” friend her opinion and she said that she has only heard the context of “hook up” meaning sex if you were actually talking about the “crowd” that engages in casual sex. “For the rest of the planet”, she grinned and explained, “it simply means to get together with someone!”

Well WHEW. But…

Isn’t it Interesting?

… how interesting is it that who you ARE may change the meaning of a phrase for you? Prior to losing my hearing, “hook up” may have only meant that we were getting our telephone or cable “hooked up”. Now that I identify with the “hearing again” crowd, the phrase means something much more profound. I hear some CI recipients call their special day – “activation day”, but I still hear “Hook Up Day” a great deal. One “ol-timer” recipient may ask a newbie, “When is your HOOK UP day?”

My own “hook up” story can be found here. I never tire of watching it as I am very aware of all the emotions flooding through my body as I sat there being “hooked up”. My eyes open and stare in amazement as I hear from my left ear for the first time in decades. One of my students told me last week:

“Mrs. Portis, you are so cute when you hear something because you turn your head and look really thoughtful with your eyes SO BIG with surprise!”

I’m not sure I like the description of being “so cute” (grin), but am not at all shocked to hear I LOOK as surprised as I feel when I hear something out of the ordinary. Sometimes it is hard to not make a big deal about it. Making a big deal about it may bring embarrassment to someone else. Examples?

1. One week a student asked to be excused to go to the bathroom. We are in a separate building from the main structure and so we have our own bathroom. When the student was finished I heard the toilet flush from the other room. I paused (and know my eyes got very big) and had trouble continuing with my lecture without missing a beat. I came very close to exclaiming to the student as he re-entered the classroom, “I’m so excited! I just heard you flush the toilet!”

2. Standing talking to the mother of one of my students (near lunch hour), I distinctly heard her stomach growl. Her face pinkened just a bit, but she continued on as if nothing happened. It was all I could do to not throw my arms around her and shout, “I heard your stomach growl! Yipeee!”

When a cochlear implant recipient is activated for the first time (and all subsequent mappings), the individual is literally HOOKED up to the computer. The audiologist can test various electrodes, programs, and “tweak” settings to maximize and individualize the processor to the person. As the result of being a part of a wonderful network of “hearing again” people, I have learned that not everyone has a wonderful Hook Up day. Sometimes it is frustrating… even disappointing.

Various causes of hearing loss, number of years the individual was without sound, and concurrent health factors can influence Hook Up day. What I love, however, is that it always gets BETTER. Those who may have a very disappointing Hook Up Day, eventually (and with a lot of hard work and aural rehab) get to where they are very happy with the results. I have met very few who regret getting a cochlear implant. Much more frequently the “hearing again” people I meet only wish they had done it sooner.

I have been in contact with numerous “hearing again” people who have only recently been Hooked Up. The first weeks and months can be very frustrating. Especially for those who have some memory of sound and are disappointed that it isn’t perfect hearing… right away… just exactly as we remember. The robotic squeals and whistles, “tin-like” voices and mechanical whirring can be very disappointing at first! I always encourage people to 1) don’t ever miss a mapping, 2) insist on 3 -4 visits the first month, and 3) take lots of notes so that you can describe for your audiologist exactly what you hear.

Identifying with a “Crowd”

Isn’t it interesting how we identify with a culture group, or crowd of people that are like us? Perhaps you are into “going green”,  “breast cancer awareness”, some specific disability group, religious identification, or political affiliation. A group may have a specific language and use of words that others outside the group do not use in the same manner. I think these words, phrases and language help to define the group in many ways. If you are “hearing again”, the phrase “hook up day” is simply a natural default to the day in which a cochlear implant was activated. What are some of your “default” phrases that are indicative of a culture group or identification that you have? We all have them!

Denise Portis

© 2010 Personal Hearing Loss Journal

4 thoughts on “Hook Up – What Does It Mean?

  1. Great piece, Denise. Lots of food for thought! Though not a “default phrase” in my world, how ironic (or not?) that you used the phrase “fear and trembling” early on! The title of a work by existential Christian Soren Kierkegaard, and an of…t-used phrase regarding faith, I have been thinking a lot about fear and trembling this week as we head into the old testament parsha (portion) where we discuss the binding of Isaac, or the “akedah”. It was during the intensive study on several sabbaths (in one of my past lives : D ) with a dear friend from that life–who just happens to have her doctorate in hebrew literature…how handy!–that we brought together the philosophical musings of Kiekegaard (my “thing”) and her biblical knowledge for a most wonderful series of discussions! My point, if it has been lost LOL is that when I see “fear and trembling” that’s why I think of!

  2. Oh Denise,

    I cried watching your “Hook Up Day”! How long had it been since you had heard your kids’ voices?

    You do sound a little southern to me, but your speech was perfectly clear – even just having had your hearing turned on 😀

    Such good encouragement to CI users (and HA users too, I think) that though things may seem odd or difficult at first, they will get better. We work it out “with fear and trembling”.


  3. Hey Julie! At the time of my “hook up”, I hadn’t heard my son’s voice since he was almost 3 years old. He was 14 in the video, so it was about 11 years.

    I think most things that are “thrown at us” like acquired disability can really de-rail us for a time. But WITH TIME, we learn to cope and to keep on … keepin’ on! Amen?

  4. Leave it to skillful Denise to take a basic phrase in cochlear implant jargon and write another wonderful piece. A hearty “Thank you” from your grateful readership (is that a word?).

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