When someone says something and you don’t really hear what they said, because you’re deaf as shit…
Or when someone makes a joke you don’t get…
…And then you pretend you totally heard it or totally got it, and you laugh along, throwing your head back with appreciation, and say, “Right?”
When that happens, there’s a window to course-correct and say, “Oh wait, I thought I heard you but I didn’t.”
Or, “I just pretended I got what you said but I actually have no clue, because I’ve never read Balzac.”
If you miss that window, you’re so screwed.
Do you ever miss that window, or do you take it?
Or do you never pretend you heard or got something you didn’t, because you’re naturally honest, in which case, what are you doing here?
TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS.
I am totes with Randle, I just stare blankly for 3 seconds too long, and then say, “I don’t get it…ummmmm, wait what did you say…no seriously why is everyone laughing?” I find that more honest = more awkward. As ever since implement heavily.
Sally Hope says
For me it totally depends on the situation the person my mood and whether or not I was even listening in the first place.
But in general I’ve gotten waaaaay better at copping to totally rude things like not listening in the first place or tubing out while talking about Balzac. But to be fair…who wouldn’t tune out to that?
Mom Belgray says
Almost every woman my age says that her spouse complains that she mumbles . . . until the spouse gets hearing aids. Now I’m the one with hearing aids! I still miss people’s names, but it’s because I’m not paying attention or not focusing. Then I try to get through a conversation by smiling like an idiot. I think I’m fooling people by staring into their eyes, even when I’ve drifted far away. Then I have to shake myself to come back to the present. My mind wanders with the slightest distraction. Is there a name for that?
Licia Morelli says
I love the Belgray family!
I’m inviting myself to Thanksgiving this year.
Mom! You do that? You’ve had me fooled for years.
Unless I’m trying to impress someone I’ve just met, I usually ask people to repeat what they’ve said. I consider any hearing loss I have as a badge of honor after experiencing some of the loudest bands in rock history, including Led Zeppelin, The Who while Keith Moon was still alive, AC/DC (in the front row), and countless others. I also look for any opportunity to quote Felix Unger from the Let’s Make A Deal episode of The Odd Couple. When Oscar Madison mumbles to Monty Hall “You kill me, Monty” Felix says to Oscar “Don’t mumble. Speak up.” To which Oscar replies, loudly and angrily, “Kill!!!”
Licia Morelli says
Did you know in a past life you led large rebellions and, as a result, were in the front row of very large, loud crowds which is probably why you are/were happy and at home in front for loud bands of rock history concerts.
It felt familiar!
Also dirty deeds done dirt cheap.
I know this because I’m psychic.
I’ve become really good at saying “oh really?”, “wow”, and “aw, it will all work out” at just the right time to my bikini waxer. No clue what she’s talking about but I know it’s either complaining about 1) her daughters or 2) men in general. Works out great: she gets to vent, I get a nice landscaping job.
P.S. You writing every day is better than Christmas!
You sure she’s not complaining about waxing your booosh?
ps You commenting is better than Chanukah.
I always speak up right after the window has passed, to ensure maximum awkwardness. That’s my strategy (read: It’s totes not my strategy, but it keeps happening).
Totes awkward is totes a strategy.
honey, i “miss” that window all the time. more often than not it’s because as the window is closing, i decide i really don’t care enough to not pretend, or that it won’t really matter because no one’s ever going to quiz me on Balzac anyway.
1) Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret
2) Remembrance of Things Past
3) The 4-Hour Work Week
4) Something I can’t bother to look up
Amber Lilyestrom says
My husband and I have this running joke from the time my brother-in-law yelled “watch out for the bush” as we were driving up their driveway and leaving after a weekend spent in CT. My husband didn’t hear what he said…at all…and just let out this awkward giant laughed with his head thrown back like “ahh-ha-Haaaa” followed by “We’ll see you soon!”
As we turned the corner out of their driveway I was ready to explode in to laughter as I asked him if he heard what Richard had said…he sheepishly smiled and said “uhh..no” and we were crying in laughter. That is now our running joke if we need to make each other laugh or if something awkward happens, we just laugh like that at each other…
Not sure if telling this story makes any sense, but it’s one of my favorite memories and your blog made me relive it 🙂
It does make sense, and it actually made me laugh out loud.
Um, it’s called my marriage. I do it every single day. I’m not proud…ok, maybe I am a little. Keep it up, Belgeezy!
You should be proud. I don’t know why, maybe I just like you.
For me this usually comes in the form of the “smile-and-nod”. The talker is so engaged with his/her own talking that he/she rarely notices that despite my periodic “Mmmhmm”s and “Yeah”s, my eyes have glazed over and in all likelihood my brain is elsewhere.
But yes, I totally get this. I’ve been trying to retrain myself though because, well, I’m tired of feeling like an idiot later when I realize that I agreed to something I didn’t mean to agree to and/or I am trying to google the thing they said but can’t find it. So much easier to just cop to it in the moment.
At least once a day, I have to tell someone, “I’m so sorry, I was in my head when you were talking. What’d you say?” And then, as they start to repeat it, I go back in my head.
Liz A says
I have a former friend, a (female) therapist, who can hear perfectly well but is typically bored by nearly everything anyone has to say. She’s learned to act engaged and she’s very enthusiastic about it, but you can tell she doesn’t process a single word most people say. So glad I’m not paying her to listen to me – I don’t think it would be very helpful.
Liz, it won’t surprise you that my dad used to give a workshop/ lecture on the value of your analyst’s daydreams in the therapy process. Nice way of validating nodding off.
A tiny bit off topic but a doozy of a misunderstanding. For the last 15 or so years I thought a good friends’ husband worked for the FCC. I’ve been taking to him about an assortment of legal issues and questions pertaining to the FCC (Howard Stern, particularly, because that’s all I could come up with at times). When I visited them in DC last spring, l realized that he, in fact, works for the FTC. Not even in the same galaxy. I give him lots of credit for always engaging me in my nonsensical FCC conversation over the years, but there is zero chance he doesn’t think I’m insane.
Hahaha! And all those times he looked at you when you asked a question and said, “I have no idea,” you must’ve thought, “This guy really sucks at his job.” Or, he was great at faking like he knew what you and he were both talking about.
I think in DC, you have to be.
My mom is the worst for laughing along with jokes she doesn’t get, which is most of them. She always has the same lost look on her face though. Needless to say she doesn’t have an ear for humour or sarcasm.
Yay for every day! Are you going to start emailing us every day? Posting it on your facebook? How will we remember to read your words?
That reminds me, I will also laugh along with a TV show and then, when my husband says, “What was the joke?” I have to admit I didn’t hear it either – I was just laughing because the rest of the show was funny.
Love it! Been there done that and probably got myself into trouble by nodding and agreeing! Now: never – I always ask them to repeat it.
Good policy. I’m trying to make that switch.
Going along when I completely missed what was said? Yes. Pretending I read that part of Balzac by getting the other person to talk more about the subject until there is something I DO maybe know something – however slight – about the subject. Um. Yes. My family trained me to wing and a prayer it from an early age for sure.
For the window – yes. Taken it and fessed up before I made any more of an idiot of myself. The name thing is harder, especially if you already pretended you know exactly who they are. A few times I just apologize and say that I realize I did not know their name. Some good looks come from that. No kicks in the shin thankfully.
Not yet anyway.
When I can’t remember someone’s name, I act like I’m having some kind of frightening brain seizure. I make my eyes real wide like I can’t believe this is happening to me, look a little faint, and say, “I’m blanking on your name.” So they tell me and then ask if they should dial 911.
Love your writing style btw. Makes me laugh. You sure you’ve no English blood in you somewhere?
Thank you, Joel!
No English blood that I know of, but my Dad did track down cousins in Ireland. And then, told them they were Jewish.
Being funny runs in the family I think…..
Use your free ebook regularly when I write sales / landing pages. Thanks!
I always smile and nod, pretending like I heard what was said. This is particularly bad because my husband is deaf and uses hearing aids. I act as his ears when we’re in public together so I miss the punch line for both of us. Thankfully my husband is more patient than a snail herder and is never bothered by it.
That’s pretty funny. Is snail herding a thing? I may have just found my passion.
Trisha Condo says
I tend to tune out bad jokes, maybe it’s because I tune in to their aura.
When I do hear a joke, I look at the person as if I’m a deer in headlights. If it’s about priests or nuns or red neck people, I really drift off to never never land just nodding. Then, say it was a nice joke. 😉
I feel like you’ve just written half a New Yorker cartoon, of a psychic at a standup club, not laughing. I wish I could write the caption, but I suck at those.
Licia Morelli says
I’m totally guilty of pretending I heard something that I didn’t.
I’m then totally guilty of thinking about the said unheard thing for days on end wondering what I missed.
Oh man, doesn’t it suck that being psychic doesn’t work for *everything*? Like, if you could read minds, you could figure out what the person just said, and you’d know if they could tell you were faking having heard it.
Licia Morelli says
I feel like as a psychic I should also have the given gift to be Sookie Stackhouse of True Blood fame. It drove her crazy but I think it would be so interesting!
I suppose I just have to stick to seeing the future…and of course guessing about what I didn’t just hear but pretended I did.
Marci Diehl says
Yay! You’re writing every day (ok, four days – that’s impressive. I think about my blog a lot but I hate having to write something that “will help my clients.” Basically, I hate business rules.). — Confession: I’ve never read Balzak. Announcement: I HAVE written a novel and it’s out on Amazon (just)! It took me years to finish, because I have to write the work that pays — like how to help my clients. If you wrote a novel, Laura, I would absolutely read it. Just don’t tell anyone you’re doing it.
Thank you, Marci!
If everyone who says they’d read my novel comes through, I could make TENS of dollars.
That is, if I write it.
How great that you wrote one! My hat’s off. (I don’t really have a hat, they make me too hot.)
I’m glad I’m not the only one who stresses about the “helpful” thing.
Oh i definitely pretend I understand and then agree with what they said.
This makes me a particularly bad friend. Case in point:
Friend: “I should probably get a boob job”
Me: “Yes, thats likely a good idea”
Friend: “I have no friends, I think I will be alone forever”
Me: “Yep, I think so to”
I should note – this only happens with one friend because of her thick NZ accent.
Licia Morelli says
I totally got that boob job you said was a good idea!
Haha. Licia nailed it, Farideh.
Got there before me.
But I must’ve misheard you when you agreed I’d be alone forever. I thought you were saying I should get a loan from Esther. I barely know Esther, so it was awkward asking her for money.
Yeah, my husband’s got a NZ accent. My mum understands him 40% of the time, while I reckon on 80% being a good day. I also have tinnitus and crappy hearing, so sometimes it’s like tapdancing with crocodiles. Shall I ask him for the fourth time what he said? Or risk the wrath of the perpetually misunderstood. After all, we’ve been together for 19 years so I can pretty much guess what he would’ve said, right?
I have to make my husband repeat himself 40 times, partly because I can’t hear but mostly because he talks with his hand over his mouth. He likes to touch his mustache/ beard. I can’t say anything about it though, because then I become my father, who always accuses my mom of mumbling and talking into HER hand.
Oh god, you just gave me a mental image of the Twits from Roald Dahl. Thanks for that.
Melissa Burkheimer says
In those situations I just smile and nod. And Google it later.
Same. Or at least, I mean to google it later. But end up on FB instead, so all I know of the world is ice bucket challenges.
The worst is if it is a person’s name and then s/he are in your social group in Montauk and way too much time has gone by — like several summers — and you can never ask anyone what the person’s name is for fear of looking like a moron or a total butch who never bothered learning the person’s name! Awful!
Marci Diehl says
Ack! That happens to me all the time. I have so many neighbor/dog-friends I see all the time out walking, and I remember the dog’s name but not theirs. So embarrassing. I think names are the worst.
Yes, this! I’m always asking my bf, “What’s Buddy’s owners name?” In my ideal world everyone wears a name tag all the time.
Mary Ann says
Phew. So, it’s not just me. I used to think it’s because dogs’ names are more unique – but it seems they’re mostly ‘people’ names these days: Jackie, Sam, Chloe, Claire… So, that excuse is toast (and, coincidentally, the name of another neighbor’s dog)… I wonder how long I can get away with blaming it on “menopause brain fog”?
Vic, here’s the plan: next time I’m out there, we hunt that person down. And you neglect to introduce us, so I say, “I’m Laura.” And then s/he/it introduces him/her/itself, and you say, “oh, forgive me, I’m so rude!”
But you’re so nervous about the whole thing that you don’t even hear the person’s name, and I forget it immediately, and now you’re more screwed than ever.
Sorry, we tried, right?
Tammy Vitale says
I did that a lot until I got my hearing aids. Now, not so much. I tend towards the honest. Why am I here? because I like your writing. 😉
Hearing aids sound great. I want that kind that lets you overhear conversations from all the way down the beach. I saw them on TV.
I like you being here!