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MANDY FLYNN: Listen up, honey ... oh, never mind

FEATURES COLUMN: When it comes to hearing, things can get real selective

Mandy Flynn

Mandy Flynn

“Did you hear what I said?” I asked my hubby and knew as the words drifted out of my mouth that it was wasted breath. Sigh. He did not.

How apropos.

“I was saying that they know now that selective hearing does exist,” I went on, referring to the story I had just heard on the morning news. I might as well have been rapping the Declaration of Independence while tap dancing with three bagels balanced on my head as far as he was concerned.

“Did you say something?” he said a good 20 seconds later when he realized I was staring at him. Not the “Gee, I’m so lucky to have you” stare I have been known to possess, but more like the “I am going to take that cell phone and shove it up your left nostril if you don’t listen to me” stare. It creeps him out.

“Stop staring at me like that,” he said. “It creeps me out.”

And so, now that I had his attention, I asked again. “Did you hear what I said?”

He thought about it a second. Then I saw it … a lightbulb went off …

“You found my blue sweatshirt?” he asked.

How apropos.

Selective hearing in men and women does exist, according to a study published in the Hearing Journal. Researchers compiled pairs of words thought to be more socially relevant to men and women and combined them in a single list. The list was read out to 40 men and 40 women, and something fascinating came of it - on average, men correctly recalled more male words (like beer and football) than female words, and women correctly recalled more of the female words, like chocolate and shopping.

I could have saved them the money it took for that study. But it did get me to thinking.What words do I think I could say that would make him stop and listen to me? I could think of a few. More like groups of words, really. Like …

“Star Wars.”

“Indiana Jones is a wuss.”

“I’m pregnant.”

“Look at that girl’s (upper part of the torso that rhymes with ice cubes minus the ice).”

“I wrecked the car.”

“Do you want to go to Bass Pro Shop?”

“Will you go to the grocery store for me? I think Victoria’s Secret models are giving out free cheese.”

He would, I have no doubt, deny that he has selective hearing. In fact, I asked him if there are any times he would attest that he does not listen to me. According to him, the only times he does not listen to me are:

When sports are on television. Actually, that’s not true. He said he would listen to me when a sport is on television that does not involve scorekeeping or if it involved Auburn or Florida football. That’s not true, either, because he did watch the Auburn/Alabama game. He wished he had not.

It is highly unlikely he will hear me if food is involved. Or if I interrupt when he is talking about himself. I am taking my chances that he will hear me if he is awake. Sometimes he listens if I catch him off guard while he is asleep.

But I can’t complain, I suppose. There are only a few words he could say that would make me pay attention to what he is saying. Like …

“Let me clean the kitchen.”

“Let’s just sit and talk for a while.”

I take that back. If one day he came up and said, “Let’s just sit and talk for a while” I would probably look for a zipper in the back of his head because this is surely someone wearing a suit made to look like my husband. That, or he truly does want to sit and talk for a while to get brownie points because what he really wants is to go to Bass Pro Shop when he knows there is so much we need to do at home. Like cleaning… and laundry… and grocery shopping …

Which reminds me …

“Can you go to the grocery store for me?” I ask, a request to which he frowns and grumbles. He’s not going to fall for the models giving out free cheese thing again.

“Indiana Jones is there …”

I really could have saved them money on that study.

Email mandy Flynn at flyn1862@bellsouth.net.