My husband and I have reached that unenviable age when the sense of hearing diminishes. Rarely does either of us get to say anything only once. The most often heard questions in our house are: “What did you say?”, “What’s that again?”, and “Don’t you know I can’t hear you when I’m in the bedroom and you’re in the kitchen?”
Because Dan and I were having trouble hearing/understanding each other, I had my hearing checked. After the test the audiologist told me my hearing fell within normal limits, but there was one particular tone I could not hear in either ear.
I explained this test result to Dan and speculated that maybe that singular tone is the tone into which his voice naturally falls. That could explain why I fail to hear him.
So now, in addition to calling out to Dan, “What did you say?” and “Speak up!” I can also legitimately yell, “And don’t talk to me in that tone of voice!”
I love it.
Hearing well is important. In fact failing to hear or mishearing can be dangerous and lead to comical or unfortunate results. “The mare will be shod at noon,” can be heard as “The mayor will be shot at noon.”
I am reading a novel in which the main character, a musician, got a chance to play his guitar with a well-known musical artist at an outdoor concert. It was evening, and the sky played with the sunbeams, creating many beautiful colors.
At some point while he was playing, the amateur guitarist heard his idol artist say, “Man! This guy’s great!”
He savored that compliment for years.
Eventually though, he realized that what the renowned musician had actually said was not, “Man! This guy’s great!” He had said, “Man! This sky’s great!”
I am a word nerd and enjoy, in a sick sort of way, hearing mispronounced and misused words and phrases. Very often I hear, “For all intensive purposes.” The actual phrase is “For all intents and purposes.” Though some people say, “Nip it in the butt,” the actual phrase is “Nip it in the bud.”
Hymnal lyrics are often misheard. Low in the Grave He Lay becomes “Low in the Gravy Lay.” Gladly the Cross I’d Bear is heard as “Gladly, the Cross-eyed Bear.” And from Victory in Jesus, instead of He Sought Me and Bought Me, some hear, “He socked me and boxed me.” (All right, I stole that last one from Google.)
As I have already indicated, I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to the written and spoken English language. I once bought a Sara Lee cheesecake and read on the box Nobody Doesn’t Like Sara Lee. I had heard that jingle a thousand times when I had perfect hearing, and I knew the correct words were Nobody Does It Like Sara Lee.
I called the company’s 800 number to set them straight. The woman on the phone listened to me patiently and then told me, “Our slogan is Nobody Doesn’t Like Sara Lee.”
“What?” I asked. “But that can’t be right! Nobody Doesn’t is a double negative!”
“We know,” she said, “but it works for us.”
I hate it when wrong is right.