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Monday, 14 July 2014

Selective Hearing

By Mickey Rogers of This, That and the Other

My sister’s late father-in-law was gifted. Whenever his wife was angry she tended to nag him for what seemed like an eternity. Taking advantage of his hearing disability, he simply turned off his hearing aid.

While sitting in a favorite easy chair and reading the newspaper, he would occasionally mumble a “Yes, dear” just to keep her off track. Eventually she’d be satisfied and go about her business while he was able to deal with the problem without actually getting bashed.

No doubt at least some women have developed this skill but men have mastered it, much as we have with burping and scratching. Throughout the years men have learned that this is a fairly good way to deal with the pressures of women trying to make us do the right things.

Sorry, ladies, but in many ways we’re just overgrown boys who like to do our own thing, thank you.

For 25 years I was blessed to work at a place that featured the most dedicated and talented employees ever assembled under one roof. One of the employees was an expert at dealing with the negative side of meetings.

Usually he would sit at the back of the room. When things got boring, he would take a little nap. The genius in his method was that this act was almost imperceptible.

While asleep he would not lean over, flinch or drip saliva down the side of his mouth. Unless you looked at his eyes there was no way to know that at least mentally, he had left the building. However, his selective hearing powers were still operational. If his name was called, he responded instantly.

I never had the skill or courage to catch a little sleep during meetings but I did use my selective hearing set. With my eyes wide open and facing the speaker, in my mind I was listing the starting lineup for my favorite football team, managing the New York Yankees in the World Series or sinking the winning basket for the Boston Celtics in the seventh and final game of the championship.

Of course, if my name was called, I could respond in such a fashion that it seemed as though I had been paying attention.

Selective hearing skills can help one get through life without facing so many slings and arrows but if used at the wrong time it can heap much trouble upon a poor slob.

Many years ago, long before the days of cell phones, my wife suggested that we meet at a certain restaurant after work. Since I was doing something very important at the time - watching a review of the previous day’s football games - I simply went into selective hearing mode.

During a commercial, I definitely heard that we were to meet at 5PM and I’m almost certain that she said to meet her at Restaurant A. Just to be on the safe side, I arrived at that particular eating establishment at 4:50.

Twenty minutes later, I was still waiting. Now I have as much patience as the next guy (that is, very little). By 5:20 I was fuming. The thought of being stood up by my own wife infuriated me. Finally, at 6PM, I gave up and headed home.

My better half was waiting there and she was not happy, either. “I waited for 45 minutes at Restaurant B and you didn’t show up,” she replied.

Luckily, I was able to convince her that she had told me to go to Restaurant A and I graciously accepted her apology. That was a close one!

A few months later, selective hearing got me into another jam. Earlier in the day I told my wife that I was going into town to pick up some important items such as potato chips, pretzels and soda pop. Since her parents were coming over for supper, she asked me to pick up a roast.

Unfortunately, I didn’t come back with the roast; the folks had to eat hamburgers and hotdogs but this was plainly my wife’s fault. She had the audacity to make the request while I was watching the bottom of the ninth inning of the Yanks-Tigers game.

Ladies, men automatically slide into selective hearing mode when watching sports! Sorry, but that’s just the way we are.

My wife was startled by an experiment she once conducted. While I was reading the newspaper in the family room, she stood in the hallway and quietly remarked, “Honey, your supper’s ready.” She was surprised when I put down the paper and rushed into the kitchen.

Actually, there are certain words and phrases that override even the most developed selective hearing abilities, such as “Would you like a backrub?” “Supper’s on” and “Do you want to hear the latest gossip?”

On the other hand, the next day, while once again I was reading the paper, she shouted from the door leading into the family room that she had a few chores for me to do.

That’s what she told me later, for actually, I never heard her the first time.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Mickey:

Well done! Been there; done that.

I think most long-time married men develop the skills you describe, but it works the other way as well.

Many times when my wife failed to accomplish something I had asked her to do, she would insist I never told her anything.

I knew for a fact that I told her, but of course, like all men, I lost that argument too.

Oh, all you men are terrible, ignoring your sweet wives for sports. But women always have a few hidden skills up their sleeves, like bribery. I found a fresh chocolate cake worked wonders.

Just called my husband, Gary, to come over to read your story! His comment was "This is good! Really good!" AND he is still laughing! Thanks! We both enjoyed the reality of it!

With all the awful things happening in our world, a funny article is just what we need.

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