Jun 16, 2011

The Art of Listening

Disclaimer: Any resemblance between the characters in this article and any persons, living, dead or undead, is a miracle and should not be construed.

"Honey, I have a headache, can you please get me an Advil?" asks The Wife.

"No thanks, I am fine" responds yours truly.

Now, I have it on good authority that men do not listen too carefully to women, and I simply must protest this libelous accusation. I do listen to every word that is uttered. By me. I'm a man. Case closed. That shoots down that theory.

"You must love hearing the sound of your own voice, then" yells some lady, and if I were paying attention I'd remember who it was. But let the record show that I listened!

I hate my voice. It is by no means stentorian like I imagine William Gladstone's might have been, but there is a distinct accent, that is unmistakable. It is somewhat loud, kids love it, and The Wife thinks I am always yelling.

"I AM NOT YELLING!" I respond. Now, not only did I listen to what I was saying, I actually liked my voice. Couple more baritones or octaves or some musically appropriate scale, and Morgan Freeman better watch out!

My kid on the other hand, is Googling feverishly, looking for used straight-jackets on eBay.

So let's pretend that it is true. That I do not listen to The Wife all that well. Impossible, you exclaim, but I beg you to play along.

What should I do? Hang on her every word, as if it were my own?

You gotta be kidding! My home office has only enough room for either myself or my ego.

Perhaps nod my head approvingly every time she pauses for oxygen? I tried that. It really backfires when she asks "You haven't heard a word I have said, have you?" Apparently, that is a wee-bit too patronizing, and distressingly obvious. One more reason why Morgan Freeman is not quaking in his boots.

I got it! Ask questions. Lots of 'em. That'll make her think that I am listening. Unfortunately, she is way smarter than a door knob on sale at the local gas station. That leaves me farther behind.

"If you do not want to listen, just say so, and you won't look stupid and uncaring asking those dumb-ass questions!"

Another disadvantage of marrying someone whose IQ trumps yours by 10%. Conservatively.

I pull the switcharoo. Oh, why oh why, didn't I think of it before?

"YOU don't listen to me!  And you accuse me of not listening to you?!"

If this were a sitcom, the laugh track has turned into boos. The Wife has left the room, with me plaintively wailing "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I did not mean that..." even as I try to imagine what quicksand would feel like. Suddenly, it feels like a viable option.

[Commercial break]

It is now later at night. The Wife has forgiven, or so I assume.

"Can you come up to bed, honey? It is 11:30"

"Just a minute, dear. There is this guy on the Internet who is clearly wrong about quantum mechanical tunneling! Let me set him straight, and I'll be right up."

I set the cretin straight, and as I walk up the stairs, it hits me.

I do not listen, because I am selfish.

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