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One of the side effects of giving birth to three yuppies has been a ringing in the ears and an automatic "Huh?" to everything that is being said.

Parents tend to talk louder, have more headaches and are quite adept at reading lips. This is because we raised children in music's high-decibel age. "If your teeth don't hurt, man, it's not music."I cannot think of a single parent who has not come out of this period with some physical damage to his hearing. I can still see President Reagan cupping his hand to his ear when a question was asked as he was preparing to leave on his helicopter. Not only could he not hear the question, he couldn't even hear the helicopter blades.

And why do you think President George Bush told a generation of voters, "Read my lips. No new taxes"? What else could they do? They, too, raised kids in the '60s, '70s and '80s.

The old line, "It's 11 o'clock. Do you know where your children are?" is wasted on me. Of course I know where they are. I always know. I start hearing the muffled bass from my son's car radio when he is four miles away. That is when I start to set the table. At two miles, I put food on the table, and by the time he hits our driveway, I am hanging onto the dishes to keep them from shattering.

Consequently, public sounds have had to be hiked up to compensate for our loss of hearing. Television commercials are booted up so you can hear them with the bathroom door closed. The sound in movie houses is increased. Emergency sirens sound like a missile being launched in order to compete with car radios. My smoke alarm would make a dead man get up and move to another room.

I remember the first time I ever saw a boom box. I was looking at a kid who probably wouldn't stoop to pick a dirty sock off the floor if it spoke to him, yet he was balancing a 20-pound radio on his shoulder complete with speakers, compact-disc player and dual tapes. Kids have been known to put them on wheels like luggage and drag them behind them.

I read that a young man from Maryland converted his Nissan into a "boom car" with no less than eight speakers. He cranks up his radio - usually on a crowded street - and the windows rattle, the roof shakes, and heads turn as the music blasts. "With this car," he said, "I can start a party. I turn up the stereo and it draws the people." I'll just bet it does.

It was only a matter of time before a state passed a your-car-is-too-loud ordinance. California has such a law. The only problem is they would have to shoot off a cannon to get the driver's attention.