"Halibut?" That’s the reply I got when I asked my husband a mundane question a few years ago. Whitley had an untreated burst eardrum when he was a kid, then as an adult in New York City, he walked past a backfiring car. The result? He’s pretty much deaf in one of his ears.

Every once in a while I get frustrated and send him to a hearing specialist, but he always returns with an excuse for not getting a hearing aid. Actually, I sympathize with this, because these devices are not very effective–but occasionally I get frustrated.

The first time I sent him to an ear doctor, he came home with a diagnosis of MSDS, which he explained was "male selective deafness syndrome." This sounded like more like an excuse not to hear your wife ask you to take out the garbage than a medical diagnosis to me, but I mentally shrugged my shoulders and continued saying, "Did you hear me?" whenever I made a statement to which he didn’t respond.

We made a pact–even if he didn’t feel like ANSWERING, he would "grunt," so I’d know he’d heard me.
Deaf people have an especially hard time comprehending foreign accents, so I was even more suspicious when he told me that the doctor he went to had a heavy foreign accent. He would whisper numbers and when Whitley didn’t understand what he’s said, he would rapidly write notes on a piece of paper, then whisper another number.

I fondly recall the "Movements" class we took at the Gurdjieff foundation. It was a big deal to be allowed to take this course, which consisted of a group of people being led in simultaneous dance-like movements. The trouble was, our particular leader had a heavy French accent, so from my vantage point in the rear of the room, I would notice Whitley leaning right when everyone else leaned left, etc.

I’ve since discovered that this particular hearing specialist was ahead of his time, because a new science has been created concerning what tones of voice people (especially men) will tune into. This is important when designing the voice that gives you directions on your automobiles GPS: For instance, it’s been discovered that in Japan, men tend not to hear a female voice telling them to turn left. Most American men, however, have women’s voices on their GPS and iphone (are they used to their wives being backseat drivers?)

But I can’t make too much fun of Whitley, since I’ve noticed that lately I’ve had to ask him to repeat things as well. This morning he asked for a bowl of kiwis for breakfast, which I thought was odd, since we don’t HAVE any kiwis, plus I know that he hates them–which was a big problem when he toured in New Zealand–but it turns out he was actually requesting Cream of Wheat.

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  1. Anne- To add to more martial
    Anne- To add to more martial discord, as we age our hearing changes based on gender. Men can’t hear higher frequencies as well, and Women can’t hear low frequencies as well. Mother Nature is funny.

  2. Male selective deafness is a
    Male selective deafness is a real thing. When women request things like taking out the garbage or cleaning the stove top, their voices actually rise slightly–right into those higher frequencies that we can’t hear. I’m always having to say to Anne, ‘I know you’ve talked, but what did you say?’ The answer is usually something like, ‘fix that toilet! I’ve only asked you 53 times!’ Oh, okay…

  3. Nice journal Anne, I
    Nice journal Anne, I especially loved the mention of Movements class at the Gurdjieff foundation. I was always curious about the physical aspects of Gurdjieff’s teachings.

  4. Hahaha. I can so relate to
    Hahaha. I can so relate to this. My hearing isn’t what it used to be and I’m constantly mis-hearing my husband.One time we were driving in the car and he was talking and I thought he said something about cockroach season, which had absolutely nothing to do with our conversation. So I turned to him and said”cockroach season??? “. Then he looked at me and said “what?!”. You can imagine the rest of the conversation. haha. I’m glad I’m not the only one out there.

  5. Hahahha! Being the youngest
    Hahahha! Being the youngest of six siblings…the older ones don’t “hear” me. I imagine them just seeing my lips moving, maybe with some sort of tones? I’ve resorted to writing, arm gestures and the like, to help get my point across. Talked to my, youngest-of-four, sister-in-law, and she said her siblings don’t “hear” her either. This could be dangerous if there’s ever a fire in the kitchen, or something, so I will make sure to scream, flap my arms, and text them if it ever happens!

  6. As a 30 yr. hearing aid
    As a 30 yr. hearing aid fitter. i have to say we now have the best smallest technology that make it posible to help most peple.
    i won;t recomend any aid but i proved most of my patients. with an American company thats over 50yrs old
    most imporant is that you visit the hearing aid fitter with him
    you know us men our memory is very selective

  7. As a person in a call center,
    As a person in a call center, I receive a lot of calls from males. I know if I keep my voice in the lower registers they understand what I am saying. They also think I am another male, which I am not. It’s just something to add.

  8. In highschool I had a teacher
    In highschool I had a teacher who was close to 50 who could not hear most of the girls when they spoke. When we spoke to him he would look at us, blink and move on as if we never spoke. It was really frustrating until my friend figured out that he couldn’t hear us and would not admit it. After that we lowered our voices to speak to him. Suddenly he was answering our questions.

    I don’t think the theory that men gradually become unable to hear higher frequecies while women gradually become unable to hear lower frequencies is correct. When I was a kid my brother and I both could hear dog wistles and I know I could still hear them about 15 years ago, but now I cannot. the frequency range that we can hear just gets shorter as we get older.

  9. Anne and Whitley – my husband
    Anne and Whitley – my husband and I will be at Dreamland and he probably won’t hear a word that Linda has to say…lol He will hear everything Nick Pope has to say…. lol

  10. Whenever I fly on United
    Whenever I fly on United Airlines, I love to listen to the Pilot and the Towers squaking back and forth. It would give me comfort to hear them and know everything is OK. However I remember one pilot who ALWAYS misunderstood the directions whenever the Air Traffic Controller was a woman. He would either not answer, or not get it right and she would have to correct him. This never happened, at least not while I was listening on that flight, when a man was giving him directions, but always happened when it was a woman. I was thinking maybe it was his protest that he didn’t like female Air Traffic Controllers, but now reading your article, I guess it’s just a guy thing to tune out women.
    Come to think of it, my husband always asks me to repeat what I said as well. Hmmm..

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