Disclaimer: For the sake of clarity, I am referring to my family and perhaps even myself although none of us will admit we can’t hear perfectly. This is not intended to represent people who are truly hearing challenged or any of their beliefs or behaviors.
Hearing issues run in my family. Despite the fact that ears get bigger as you grow older until you are capable of gaining altitude without the aid of a plane, they don’t seem to work as well.
My mother called it selective hearing but I think there may be some real medical issues there.
When we can’t quite hear what you say we smile a lot, shake our head to imply we are listening, and sometimes even cautiously respond. Perhaps the reply isn’t for the question asked but it’s a good answer nonetheless.
Sort of normal person: “Hi! I hear the world is ending!”
Hearing-challenged person in my family: Big smile maybe even a positive head shake.
Sort of normal person: “We will all die.”
Hearing-challenged person in my family: Another big smile, head shake and maybe even a “That’s good.” No sign of impending catastrophe.
Sort of normal person: *thinks* This is one weird dude.
We try to read lips or make assumptions. We hear the first part of the sentence but because people trail down at the end, we don’t hear the finish. So we do what kids do when they don’t have all the information. We make it up.
(Have you ever heard the story of birth from the perspective of a 5-year-old? Hilarious!)
It’s an unconscious thing. If I’m in a restaurant with a larger group, there are times I can’t hear across the table. If I have the gist of what’s going on, I can fill in the blanks. Maybe.
Or I can be way off. Like out in left field. Or maybe in another county.
A friend asked me if I’d like to join her. I heard the first part so I knew the topic but I thought she was asking me if it was open. I answered, “I don’t know.” Her look was priceless. It was a yes or no question. How could I not know if I wanted to join her?
After it rumbled through my cavernous brain I realized that she didn’t say what I thought she said (mostly ascertained from the gasps and giggles of the group). I swallowed my pride (that’s something we have a lot of despite the fact that we have no idea what you are talking about) and I asked her to repeat the question.
I said yes…to something.
I think I’m going to pick blueberries. Or maybe to a movie. Or maybe something else. In any case, it will be a surprise.