Of all the skills required to maintain healthy, happy, human relationships we are by far and away the worst at communication. Should be a simple concept. You talk I listen, I talk you listen. We both understand what the other needs and are motivated to cooperate. In reality you talk, my eyes glaze over. I talk, you worry about what’s for dinner. We all talk, no one listens, everyone is confused and distinctly not cooperating.
A week after Thanksgiving I came home with a pie I found on the markdown shelf. These people had been eating homemade pie for 7 days, but I couldn’t resist the bargain basement price of $.75. Joe’s frugality is rivaled only by his sweet tooth so he was duly impressed. His only question was why I didn’t take bigger advantage of the sale. I tried several times to explain but his Uzi like diatribe blew that part of the conversation out of the water. Just when I thought I couldn’t be anymore frustrated, Tessa, who was not only in the same room during the conversation, but with me at the store when I bought it and the one to carry it in from the car took advantage of his need to reload before I could and and piped in, “We have PIE?!”
Children are a gimme. We didn’t listen to our parents before it was too late and the children are certainly not going to listen to us. According to recent research this is due to a very real lack of brain development. I don’t care what anyone says I’m not buying that one. I am much more convinced it is due to the traditional and very potent curse, “I hope you have a child just like you!” I admit, I don’t know nothin’ from brain cells, but I remember the day I ignored my Mom putting that one on me. The children are aged 10 to 22 and I didn’t have to be paying attention for that sucker to stick.
Personally, I have a bad case of Someone Says…I Hear…Disease. I hear the words that are spoken but feel obligated to put my own interpretation on them. “We missed you at church last week.” Means “Heathen!” “Are you feeling OK” translates to “Wow you look like shit!” I can’t leave out “You look great!” The women out there all know this means we looked fat the last time they saw us. The worst is if Joe should ask me if I remembered to get something done. Jeez, what does he think? I am not stupid. It’s not my fault he mumbled when he asked for dental floss.
He and I suspect, most men are afflicted with I Heard You But Can’t Be Bothered to Retain It Disorder. I know, indeed, that he hears me on some level. He acknowledges and even comments on what we are discussing. We don’t see much of my parents. They live out of state. Joe loves my parents. He considers my Dad a comedy super-genius and thinks Mom is more than a little hot. Whenever I get the news that one, the other or both are coming for a visit it is what he calls “Big-E” news. He wants to know when they will be here, how long they can they stay, can he pick them up at the airport and what the occasion is. He has never failed to be pleasantly surprised when they show up.
Our remote controls have mute buttons, our earbuds drown out the world and voicemail makes short work of the people we can’t be bothered to even pretend to listen to. The whole thing makes you wonder whom we think we are kidding by wearing our cell phones around in our ears.