I have always been told I was a selective listener. If I were called to stand trial for this deficiency, my mother would be the first witness called to the stand. Countless times my chin rested in her hand while she said those five words all boys hate: “Let me see your eyes!”
Teacher after teacher could give valid testimony against me. But the prosecution’s star witness would be the woman who’s suffered with my malady for the longest – my poor wife. When I zone out, she constantly gives me the look that lets me know she’s onto me. Rarely does she patronize me with the five-word command, but she has ways of making sure I’m listening. Some are gentle, some are not.
When we found out I had hearing loss in both ears, I immediately pegged it as the culprit. Truth be known, it’s not. If I were brutally honest, I would admit that I hear some things and choose to keep my head down. Unknowing, unhearing, un-responsible for whatever I’m being told. I know, it’s not healthy and not good. But don’t act all holier than thou, men. As if your sense of smell suddenly abandons you whenever you hand your baby back to your wife and didn’t happen to notice their full diaper.
So there has always been an irritation. The onset of the Digital Video Recorder has grown it to a plague. In my television viewing, no longer am I required to pay attention to anything. I can give the TV a cursory glance and if I want to go back, I can hit the magical button that pushes time backwards fifteen seconds to fill in the blanks. It is amazing! It is brilliant! It is revolutionary…but not for relationships.
Because of the DVR, I don’t listen to anyone when they begin talking to me anymore. It’s not my fault, my brain has been conditioned that the first fifteen seconds of anything don’t matter because I have a magic button. “Honey, can you get the large pot from the cabinet, fill it with water, and put it on to boil,” becomes the simple phrase, “to boil,” which means absolutely nothing, thereby absolving me of any responsibility to help in the kitchen.
This is excellent news for me, but not for my wife. You see, she doesn’t have the receiver that takes the signal from the magic button – nor does she want one. She will repeat herself, but seems to be very annoyed when forced, at which point I naturally point to my ears and claim hearing loss. After twenty-one years, she knows that game well and wins it more often than not. Defeated, I put on water to boil and wish I could learn to pay attention.
Fortunately for our marriage, I don’t watch much TV. But when I do, I hold the magic button in my hand and am invigorated! And the cycle begins anew.