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How could one date cost Alejandro $25,000?

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Dear Tom and Ray:



Perhaps you can help me make a decision. I drive a '98 Honda Prelude, and I've had it since it was new. It has been the best car I've ever owned (I'm 78). It performs flawlessly. I groom it and service it and love it. Recently, I took a drive in the country with a new lady friend. The weather was beautiful, and things were going along swimmingly. I turned on my stereo for a little classical music to enhance our experience. She said, "That's too loud." I looked at her and said, "But it's very low." She replied: "I think you might have some hearing loss and should look into it. I used to work for an audiologist, and it's very common for our hearing to deteriorate as we age." So, I went to a local hearing-aid facility, and to make a long story short, they fit me with a pair on a trial basis. Well, the next time I got into my car, I could hear rattles and squeaks that were very troubling. I took out the hearing aids, and lo and behold, it was quiet again. My dilemma is: Should I spend $6,000 for hearing aids, or buy a new car and trade in the Prelude? They don't make them anymore, and I'd like to keep it and also the new woman I met. Help! -- Alejandro

TOM: Oh, boy, Alejandro. That date may end up costing you $25 grand!

RAY: There you were, perfectly happy, blissfully unaware of the hundreds of squeaks and rattles emanating from your Prelude, blissfully unaware of your hearing loss. And now you need hearing aids and a new car.

TOM: Whatever you do, don't get your eyes checked. You might decide you need a new girlfriend, too!

RAY: Well, I certainly wouldn't do anything until you know whether this new relationship is going to pan out. If it doesn't, then you're all set. You return the hearing aids, and keep driving the Prelude in blissful silence.

TOM: Actually, you may want to keep the hearing aids anyway, and just not wear them when you're driving the car (I'm presuming you have no trouble hearing horns and sirens). Or ask the audiologist to try adjusting them. It might not help a lot, but the advantage of those high-end hearing aids is that they can amplify different types of sounds in different situations.

RAY: But if this IS a long-term relationship, then, like I said, you're out $25 grand, Alejandro. You have to get the hearing aids. You need to be able to hear everything your lady friend says. You have to be able to listen to music together in the car. You need to not blast her out of the house by blaring "Judge Judy" at volume 11.

TOM: And since the hearing aids have clued you in to what a 10-year-old car really sounds like, you may need to upgrade on the car front, too.

RAY: Here's what I'd recommend. Next year, Honda is coming out with a brand-new hybrid to compete with the Toyota Prius. Getting a hybrid will serve several purposes for you.

TOM: It'll save you a lot of money on gasoline.

RAY: It'll let your new lady know that you're a forward-looking, future-oriented fellow who cares about the environment and his fellow man.

TOM: And it'll run in electric mode at least some of the time, which is nice and quiet. Good luck on all fronts, Alejandro. We're pulling for you!

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