I Have Beautiful Ear Canals (Or So I’m Told)

Back in October, I tested positive for COVID. In addition to throwing a monkey wrench into my plans for surgery, it left me with partial hearing loss.

So, over the last few months, I’ve had a lot of people looking inside my ears. It’s not a particularly unpleasant procedure – for doctor or patient – and I didn’t really pay these exams much regard until my family doctor took a look and proclaimed – with shocking enthusiasm – You have the nicest ear canals I’ve seen…in years!

She took a step back, otoscope light still shining, to look me in the eye. Really! she continued, before taking another look to confirm her initial assessment. You have perfect ear drums, and those canals are beau-ti-ful.

Friends, it’s a bit shameful how happy this compliment made me. I mean, it’s not like I’ve done anything to deserve such excellent ear canals.

Or have I…?

Later, perhaps still dazzled by the magnificence of my ear drums/canals, she said: I bet you don’t use Q-tips, either. I smugly confirmed she was correct, quoting the old advice of Nothing bigger than your elbow. By now I was so proud of her approval, I practically levitated out of her office.

Last year I wrote about compliments and the disproportionate morale boost provided by a well-timed compliment. What I didn’t factor in is the fact the range of compliments can be extremely broad – apparently, even extending to inner-ear anatomy.

Your turn. What is the strangest (yet unmistakably positive) compliment you’ve ever received? Do you use Q-tips?

Header photo by Alvan Nee on Unsplash

34 thoughts on “I Have Beautiful Ear Canals (Or So I’m Told)”

  1. How wonderful a moment? Not that you had to go through this experience, but an unexpected compliment can change a week for me!

    When my daughter was young, one of her friends told me that my freckles were perfectly placed and it brought such light to my soul (even if they followed up with “even if they’re sun damage” haha!).

    We are Q-tip free in this household! One of my college besties became an audiologist and real talked me out of ever using them.

    1. It was unexpected and also just such an odd compliment. But it really did make me happy!

      Aww, what a sweet compliment. Somehow I appreciate compliments from pint-sized humans the most because they’re SO honest, so I know they’re likely not pandering if they say something sweet and complimentary.

      I never, ever use Q-tips for my ears (but I do use them for cleaning and to remove any little bits of mascara that get on my eyelids after application)..

  2. Ha! I love it! Also I don’t think I have ever met someone outside my family of origin who knows that “nothing bigger than your elbow “ saying! My husband always looks at me as if I have seven heads when I say it to him.

    One of the compliments that has stuck with me was a few years ago when a fellow mom praised me for being so calm with my high energy daughter. It was surprising because I am decidedly NOT calm especially when trying to keep my kid reined in (and this was a few years ago when she was extremely hard to rein in), so it was gratifying to know that at least I was faking it pretty believably!

    1. I can so relate to this; people sometimes compliment me on my energy or outgoing nature and I feel like looking around and saying: you can’t possible be talking about me!!

  3. I don’t use Q tips, yet no one has ever complimented my ear canals. As a matter of fact, every time my doctor looks in my ears she says something like “Wow, you really have a lot of wax!” Hurumph.
    I can’t think of any odd compliments offhand, other than the experience I’ve already shared, where the Starbucks barista asked for my name and then said “What a beautiful name!” Really? I think he was stretching things a bit, but it was funny that it did make me feel good.
    Too bad you can’t feature your ear canals somehow, now that you know how beautiful they are!

    1. Hurumph, indeed.
      I also think Jenny is a beautiful name – it sounds so friendly and vibrant, too. It rolls off the tongue nicely and – for what it’s worth – every single “Jenny” I’ve known in my life has been a lot of fun!!

      Featuring ear canals reminds me of another, slightly random, compliment. When I was buying makeup for my wedding, I went to a Clinque counter at the mall. The technician giving me a consultation insisted on bringing her coworker over to see my lips. She told me: You have the perfect-shaped lips. You could be a lip model!

      I suspect she was pandering to my ego in an attempt to sell product, but I have always felt confident about the shape of my lips since that moment. Alas, no one has come knocking to feature my lips in a Maybelline ad, so I suspect my chances are even lower when it comes to featuring my ear canals.

    1. I don’t imagine I’ll ever have opportunity to see my own ear canals, so I’ll have to take her word for it…

      1. Because of my husband’s narrow ear canals, I actually bought him a scope with a camera on it so he can see where/how much wax buildup he has. He gets to see his ear canals all the time!

        1. I’ve actually heard of parents with young kids that frequently get ear infections buying otoscopes; why not, I guess?! I feel like a camera in my ear would feel like a worm wriggling around and…*shudder* – but I bet it’s not half bad and a great way for your husband to keep an eye on his wax levels!

          1. We bought an otoscope in the summer of 2021! Paul had tons of ear infections and I was worried Will would be on the same path. They are tricky to use but I got to the point where I could tell if the ear drum was bulging. He ended up with tubes around 13m so we haven’t used it since. I should use it to look at Phil’s pristine ears. Ha!

          2. I’m so glad you were able to get a long-term solution with the tubes; ear infections (especially repeated ones) are such a scourge for young kids. We – thankfully! – managed to avoid this, but I know so many poor little ones that have constantly battled ear infections. I’ve had several as an adult and they are AWFUL! So much pain!

  4. LOL! This made me laugh because my husband has really narrow ear canals and so he has to have his ears cleaned out by doctors a lot and whenever they look in his ears they all make the same puzzled sound. You’re LUCKY yours are so perfect. I do use q-tips because otherwise (this is gross and maybe TMI, so feel free to skip if you’re squeamish) ear wax will literally just stop leaking out of my ears at some point during the day.

    When my husband and I were early days, I was at one his family reunions and one of his aunts said to me, “it’s good to see Dr. BB with such an extrovert” and I was dumbfounded and a tiny bit pleased. No one had every called me an extrovert before and it’s clear that just compared to HIM I am positively a social butterfly, but it made me feel good, like I was good for him and his family recognized that fact, even though I don’t think the extrovert part is actually true. Ha!

    1. I didn’t realize ear canals could be narrow; ugh, that sounds like a nuisance for your poor husband.

      I sometimes get comments about me being “extroverted” or having lots of “energy” and I always feel puzzled – but flattered – by these comments. That’s one of the best things about relationships is we can bring out the best in our partner and/or help compensate where they might be lacking! While John and I overlap a lot in terms of personality and preferences, we also have some big differences, too and instead of seeing that as a liability, I think it can really strengthen what we can do as a team!

  5. The dentist always tells me I have great teeth, which isn’t all that odd I guess, but it is nice to hear! I used to use a q-tip every day but then decided it probably wasn’t a good thing. I only use them occasionally but when I do, oh man it feels soooooo good!! Kind of like when you take a knit hat off in the winter, you know?

    1. That IS such a nice compliment. Dentists can be pretty critical, too – so having it come from them really means something!

      I can’t stand the feeling of Q-tips in my ears; I might have done it 5 times my entire life. But I know some people love the sensation!

  6. Love it so much. And I can relate I guess.
    When my husband lost his eye and needed a glass eye prosthetic we went to the expert who made them. When we left he told me that I had “star-eyes” and a very wonderful blue color. It made me so happy and my eyes sparkled. And when I feel down I always think back at the moment and my eyes sparkle. I guess the validation of someone seeing the exact same things over and over is what makes it extra special.

    Hope this moment makes you also very happy. And regarding your question. I do use grips. A lot.

    oh and how wonderful that I can keep track of comments now. This will be great. Thank you for installing it. May I ask what plugin you ended up using? It looks nicer than mine.

    1. Your eyes do look GORGEOUS in your pictures. Such a clear and brilliant blue.

      I used Subscribe to Comments Reducer version? There are a lot of options; I had another one set up earlier today but it came with a lot of bells and whistles and I didn’t love that?! I’ll try a few options out for a while and see what feels best.

        1. Sigh…I’m hoping I’ve fixed the issue and the auto-emails will go out with replies? If not, I’ll have to tweak various settings until I can get things to work.

  7. When I was in high school, a teacher told me I have beautiful hands and feet and could be a hand and foot model! I do think I have nice hands. I have ‘piano fingers’ – so long, thing fingers. My feet are not beautiful! Or they aren’t anymore from years of running! I have super high arches so I have horrible calluses now!

    The ENT commented on how clean Will’s ears were at his last check up. I thought that was odd and then when I told Paul he said doctors comment on his ears not having much wax. Paul, on the other hand, has so much wax that his tubes are stuck in the ear wax and may need to be surgically removed!

    I do use q tips. I know I shouldn’t but I can’t resist! I don’t clean them very aggressively, but I like to give them a swipe when I get out of the shower!!

    1. I have always been self-conscious about my feet. They’re soooo long and gangly. One of my sister’s has, in my opinion, perfect feet and I always stare in envy whenever we’re together. I feel like Abby has her feet? So tiny and petite compared to mine (which are a lot like my Dad’s).

      Oh no – poor Paul. Ugh. Hope it doesn’t require surgery!!!

  8. Ok, this is the most random compliment I’ve ever heard – haha – but I guess it comes from an expert who sees a LOT of ear canals daily. Nobody else sees your ear canals but I would probably have been elated, too. If you’re telling me, it’s because you don’t use q-tips, then maybe I’ll stop. (I don’t use them a lot, but every now and then it feels good to swipe – it’s like scratching an itch).

    I think the most random compliment someone has given me was when I stopped at the supermarket after the gym (sweaty and all in my workout clothes – ugh, sorry!) and someone walking by said that I had a beautiful figure. I know that sounds somewhat creepy and like borderline harassment, but it was stated in such a matter-of-fact, non-creepy way that I just appreciated the compliment. Women can be so hard on themselves sometimes when it comes to body issues.

    1. Random indeed, but maybe that’s what made it even more “special” – it was very unexpected and sincere.

      I wish it was just virtue, but I also hate how Q-tips feel in my ears.

  9. what a funny story. hahahha…. i started using q tips because somehow the ear plug I’m using makes me feel itchy. my husband swear by it to clean though, so I hope it helps me too.

    1. I used to try to wear ear plugs, but I HATE how they feel in my ears and I’m sure they push ear wax further into the ear canal. I use white noise, but it’s not as effective at blocking out ambient noise.

  10. Here’s a medical one – I had a birth control implant when I was 25-28, and in that time I got really into weight lifting. When it was time to get it removed/replaced the nurse asked “have you gotten a lot stronger sine you had this implant put in?” and I said “why yes!” beaming with pride at the compliment.
    “Ok, it might be a bit harder to remove then” she said, which should have deflated me but instead I still remember the compliment on my biceps.

    Congratulations on your beautiful ear canals!

    1. That is a great compliment!
      Biceps and ear canals; I think that settles it once and for all that compliments come in all shapes and sizes.

  11. I wasn’t going to comment on this, but I had to laugh. You see, I’ve complimented people on how large and easy to check their eyes are. Yes, their eyes. Using an ophthalmoscope on very dark eyes (think so brown they are almost black) is difficult. It’s much easier on people with lighter-colored irises. So, I’ve actually complimented people and said something along the lines of, “Your eyes are so easy to examine!” (I’ve also complimented kids on their ears before, so… yeah. I’m with your doc. :>)

    1. Eyes, ears…maybe up next someone will chime in about a throat comment and we’ll be part of some ENT doctor joke? I would never have realized that lighter-coloured eyes were easier to examine! How interesting!

      I feel slightly less special now that I know some kids in the US have been complimented on their nice ear canals 🙂

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