"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.