Shhh…I’m going to share a secret. Actually, it’s more like a confession.
Remember those times, when we were out in a loud restaurant, or that time you raised your voice to tell me something in a crowded club?
Or maybe we were at a baseball game, and the guys behind us were cheering loudly and you asked me if I’d had a good day?
I nodded, right? And smiled?
Yeah, I’m sorry. I didn’t hear a word you said.
Since my bout with meningitis almost 20 years ago, my hearing has been compromised. After my 2011 concussion, my right ear has lost about 30 per cent of its hearing, likely more by now. I also have tinnitus, which eclipses or at least accompanies most every sound I hear. So I’ve been trying to read lips, and I find quite often I don’t look into peoples’ eyes when they talk; rather, I stare at their mouths to try to ‘read’ what they’re saying. I know that in itself is a little creepy, because otherwise I give every indication I can hear you, and much of the time, I do. Sometimes I think, uh-oh, they think I’m shifty, as in, ‘she seems nice enough, she’s pretty polite, but she won’t look me in the eye…’
Here’s a hint: I look into your eyes when I can hear you, and I look at your mouth when I can’t. I hope to get some sort of indication from your facial expressions, but if you’re not expressive, I don’t necessarily get the information I need.
At this point, I refuse to get a hearing device. I know it’s vain, but after my hair turned grey and I put on the ‘menopause ten’, I figure I don’t need anything else to make me look or feel older. Besides, sometimes it’s ok to not hear the details of what’s going on around me. Often, my lack of hearing saves me from putting my index fingers into my ears and singing, “La-la-la-la-la-lah!” over and over—especially when someone I care for cusses like a trucker and uses the ‘c’ word to horrible effect.
But getting back to you…
Has my reaction been a little strange? Like the time when you told me your 15-year-old was pregnant by your parish priest, and I nodded and smiled, and said ‘yes, right, uh-huh, good for you, that’s terrific.’ You expected something different, didn’t you?
And when we were in that restaurant and you lamented that your husband was having an affair with the Wayfair help desk lady, and again, I studied you really thoughtfully, and then I smiled and nodded…and didn’t offer any sympathy or support.
Instead, you silently glared when I asked you, “You bought a hutch and some chairs from Wayfair?”
I assumed by your expression that you didn’t like your new furniture and said, “Well, you could just return them, I think they have a good policy…”
And when you started crying, then blew your nose on the tip of the linen tablecloth…and kept muttering and sobbing as you ran to the washroom? I was flummoxed; I’d never seen you overreact like that. It’s just furniture!
Yeah, well, again. I couldn’t hear a word you said.
Some of you have been telling me the same story, over and over, for a few years now. Usually detailed accounts of years-ago events and people who are complete strangers to me, stories that are neither necessary parables nor salacious gossip. I know how those same old stories turn out, and I don’t even need to watch your lips. In my imagination, I’m somewhere else completely…likely plotting out my next horror story. Oh, did I mention? It involves you. And yes…yes, you’re right, I am still smiling and nodding intently.
About the Creator
I live with a broken brain and PTSD--but that doesn't stop me! I'm an author, artist, and qualified mediator who loves life's detours.
I co-authored NOT CANCELLED: Canadian Kindness in the Face of COVID-19. I also publish horror stories.