I came home from work exhausted last Friday, sat down in my Lazyboy, picked up my newspaper when Hon burst into the den flapping her arms looking like a wild eyed albatross and asked why I was not dressed and where the bottle of wine I was supposed to pick up was. My head tilted, my jaw opened and I blinked. I did not have a clue what she was talking about. I was berated for forgetting we had a dinner engagement with the Fluffingtons or poofinghams or whoever she supposedly told me about that morning and three times last week. "I never heard you say that." evidently wasn't the correct response.
Saying she was annoyed was to put it mildly. She said "You're deaf as a doorknob." My reply was 'Huh?" Another wrong comment. That does it! I'm fed up with this." She made made an appointment to get my hearing tested the following Monday. When I went to my appointment the girl seemed to find this humorous and said most young people can't hear half as well as me. It wasn't the first time they had run into this. Hon wasn't satisfied. She made me go to a neurologist to see if I have Alzheimers. The doctor ran some tests and said I have minimal memory loss for someone my age, but that perhaps I had ADD and gave me a clean bill of health, so it's not just a memory thing.
Hon says if she talks about bridge partners, her single friend's love lives, scrapbooking, church sermons or the fact that it's time for my colonoscopy I go deaf. Sometimes I wonder if she makes this stuff up just to annoy me, but considering the topics that sounds about right to me.
I believe this behavior in men (or lack of it) is a survival skill we have developed from having to tune out wind, rain, and the ocean to be alert for predators or potential food in prehistoric times. I'll call it selective hearing. Here are some things that I think activate this gene in men.
When I was a teenager we only used to have Am radio in the 60's and 70's and the quality of car radios could be compared to tin cans with waxed strings. We couldn't afford speakers so our extra speakers were stolen from the drive in.
No one really knew what words the artists were singing so we thought it couldn't be too important. Why worry about it? When I listen to the old songs on today's modern equipment I realize it's just as well. Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy dum? Yakity yack? What was this about a walrus the Beatles were singing? Lucy in disguise? Lucy in the sky? We learned it was futile to listen. Between teachers sounding like Mr. Rogers on narcotics droning on about urgent topics like the difference between Ionic and Corinthian columns, idiot employers, parental criticism, loud concerts, and AM radio we Men learned more and more how to completely filter out extraneous noise and superfluous communication in lieu of more important things like watching girls and looking for free beer. I'm surprised we can hear anything at all now.
There is a difference between the way men and women interpret things when confronted with unpleasant noises. Hon puts her hands over her ears and says "Oh God".
If say, I talk about cars, way back when, hunting, arthritis, sports or the efficiency of different dietary fiber products in my diet. Hon says my priorities are wrong, I'm boring, I don't have boundaries, or God forbid, asks what my feelings are about these things. Men are not real big on feelings where as a woman will polish off six romance novels full of yearnings and glistening loins a week.
Women are more nurturing because they need to pay attention to what children are doing. They have been doing this for thousands of years. Primitive women had to listen for her offspring so they did not wander off and get snatched up by a sabertooth or go yank on the household hyenadon's tail. Today is not much different. They must be alert for any kind of mischief her little tykes may be committing on each other or to the pets, like seeing how many cherries the dog can eat before he walks funny and starts scooting around the house on his butt.
Hon claims that I will blurt out things like "Did you put peanut butter on the shopping list?" while she is trying to share her feelings. I'm not even sure when she is discussing feelings. I have no recollection of ever having a discussion about feelings.
Men will tell a child "Sure." and maybe even hand them a bic lighter if their child requests to fry marbles while the man is watching a playoff game and then he wonders why the house burned down. Men's genetic skill sets are more oriented towards providing food and operating the remote control.
Hon and I have been married twenty five years, so I've got to wonder, Is selective hearing necessarily a bad thing? It's young people that get the most divorces. I believe it is the ability to listen that causes divorce. Women are constantly on high alert for any slight and can hear a young spouse grumble even if he is in the bathroom. If young men could develop the capacity to smile and nod their heads at the onset of any "discussion" the divorce rate would drop considerably. I have found mentally humming the tune to jeopardy during a "discussion" is helpful.
To placate Hon and show her I'm not completely insensitive, I previously agreed to do an exercise she read about. (This was not the first incidence.) We have set aside thirty minutes every Sunday to communicate. She says something and then I repeat it. Then she tells me if she thinks I didn't quite get the gist of it and I'll repeat it again and expound on it if necessary.
Then I say something and she will repeat it.(she has a hard time with baseball stats.) I think the goal is to get to the end of the thirty minutes without me saying "Huh?" We've been doing it about six months now and I am up to ten minutes.
In conclusion we see that the issue of selective hearing is not as simple as we thought it was before we started thinking about it. So the next time you hear some one humming the theme to Jeopardy pause and remind yourself. He may be practicing selective hearing. Then again he may be trying to get the tune "Horse with no name" out of his head.
Well Hon probably has supper done by now. Whats this note? Dan: Don't forget to water the plants while I am in Oregon visiting mother. Hmm. This is dated three days ago. Oh, That's why we're out of peanut butter. Yikes! I better feed the dogs. There was something else. Oh well, It will come to me.