Monday, December 8, 2014

Missing the key words

It annoys my wife when I ask her to repeat something she has just said to me. She thinks I am getting deaf, although if that is true, I have been getting deaf for many years without actually becoming deaf. Part of the problem, I think, is that when my mind is focused on one thing, a book or a football game perhaps, it takes awhile to refocus on something else, namely whatever it is she is saying to me. I have suggested she first make sure she has my attention before telling me something important.

Lately, however, I have come up with a new theory. I usually hear most of what she says, but not the one or two words that would convey the most important information. I might hear the verb but not the noun or, sometimes, the noun but not the verb. Then I noticed I am often missing the key words people other than my wife are saying.

Listening to someone on radio or television (I forget which) count down the top-grossing movies of the weekend, I noticed I could clearly hear almost every word she said except the titles of the movies themselves. The volume of her voice seemed to go down a few notches every time she said a movie title, and it was the titles that were important.

A day or so later I heard another woman, also talking about movies, say, "If you're like me you are obsessed with the movie ...." Again I could clearly hear everything she said except the name of the movie. Later in the conversation, thankfully, I was able to catch the word Frozen, so I finally knew what she was talking about. A few days later I watched Frozen for the first time. It is a wonderful film, although I can't imagine anyone becoming obsessed with it.

Anyway, I am still wondering. Is there something wrong with my hearing or do some people, perhaps even most people, lower their voices slightly when they say key words, as if they are sharing some kind of secret?

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