My wife Julie called to me the other day after going through our mail and told me that National Geographic is selling tennis shoes for only $8.00.
“Wow! That’s pretty cheap,” I said.
“I guess, but I thought you said you didn’t want to re-subscribe.”
“I don’t. But I might wanna get me some of them cheap tennis shoes.”
“I said TEN ISSUES you dumbass!”
I couldn’t even blame that one on an old guy’s hard-of-hearing. I guess I just wasn’t payin’ attention. In truth I was just thinking a few days before that I was in need of some new kicks and I suppose I subconsciously had that on my mind. True communication is a lot more than people being able to speak the same language and I’ve noticed we all sometimes only hear what we want or expect to hear.
For instance, if somebody calls me by my given name of Robert, or even Bob, I often have no idea who the hell they’re talking to. My nickname has been Bummer since I was a little kid. Actually, my grandmother used to call me A bum (jokingly I hope) and the neighborhood kids heard that and started calling ME “Bum”. That eventually morphed into Bummer and I’ve been called that most of my life (I like to think it’s made me a stronger person). Everybody calls me Bummer. About the only times that’s bothered me is when the local cops and the damned judge calls me Bummer….that is definitely NOT cool (it’s just a little bit too intimate).
Anyways, getting back to it, I often wonder what we’d notice if we could really “hear” the things that people like salesmen or politicians (who often seem to be the same sorta birds) say when they spoke to us.
I once started to read a book on body language and I began to notice that a lot of the things that taught me was at the same time both amusing and disturbing. I found myself trying to “read” what everyone was subconsciously saying by analyzing their posture, movements and facial expressions instead of concentrating on what they were actually saying. One time a judge who I took to be bored and not paying attention got really pissed and ended up sentencing me to a bit more jail time then I shoulda got. I guess I should have finished reading the book. That must have been what Alexander Pope meant when he said that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Besides, who’s to say that the person you’re trying to “read” didn’t read the same book as you and is doing those things intentionally?
It would be so much simpler if we could just read people’s minds. But since I’m an old fat guy, the last thing I want is to know what others are thinking, especially when I’m flirting with a hottie. (My woman isn’t bothered when I do this, obviously because it’s so ridiculous) In MY world I’m still the handsome young stud I imagine I used to be. All us old guys do that, except for Hugh Hefner. In his case it just doesn’t matter because he’ll have all the hotties he can handle as long as he’s still breathing. In fact he’ll be having beautiful women climbing all over him even if they have to pump the air into his lungs. The old pervert.
In truth we sometimes expect (and need) people to lie to us, and we all have to resort to telling little white lies when it comes to some situations. Ya can’t tell your old aunt the absolute truth if she asks, “How do I look?” when she’s all dolled up and ready to go to church (or wherever). Ya say, “Ya look great!” even if yer thinking, ‘Ya look like a dried up old prune caked in dry wall dust and yer perfume is makin’ me gag!’.
A while back I played in a blues band with a guy named Bill who was a phenomenal guitarist, but was so brutally honest that I still refer to him as the rudest guy I’ve ever known. His rudeness was the result of his telling everyone the absolute truth all the time. A typical conversation with Bill would make ya wanna slap the hell outta him:
“Hey Bill. How ya doin’?”
“I have an ingrown toenail.”
“Okay. How’s everything else?”
“My uncle died last night while doing the polka at his daughter’s wedding.”
“Oh no! That’s terrible!”
“I thought it was funny. I never liked him anyway. He was a jerk.”
Okay. What else is new?”
“I have gas. It’s bad.”
“Okay.” as you move closer to the door. “Did ya work out that lead for the new song?”
“Yes, but it’ll suck because we don’t have a keyboard.”
“Maybe we shouldn’t do it then.”
“Nobody’ll notice. They’ll all be drunk.”
“I could throw some harmonica in.”
“You ain’t that good. We’ll just fake it.”
We stopped letting him speak into the microphone between songs because he once told some chick in the audience who kept requesting a hip-hop song, that she was a sweathog and her dress was too tight. Needless to say that band didn’t go very far..
A key word everyone should think of in circumstances involving honesty in relationships of any kind should be discretion, whether you’re talking about relationships with fellow workers, somebody ya might have to share a hospital room with, yer boss or with anyone in authority. Like a cop.
I know a guy who always appears to hold his liquor really well. He was busted for being in a bar fight and was being taken to the cop shop in the back of a cruiser by two officers who didn’t think that he was really that drunk. After asking them to stop the car so he could relieve himself a few times, he managed to pull down his zipper and peed all over the back of both cops heads as they were driving him to the station. Now, that got their attention. Oh, they immediately stopped the cruiser and let him out, but after that, instead of resuming their trip to the station, he had to be admitted to a hospital under arrest. Ya might say he had to learn about discretion the hard way. (I bet neither one of ‘em ever handcuffed anyone in the front after that!)
All in all, if everyone was paying attention to what everyone else was telling them, and, if those people were telling the truth (discreetly), the result would be better communication and far less turmoil, strife and war. But ya know, I just can’t understand it. I keep telling everyone how to fix the world, but NOBODY PAYS ATTENTION TO ME!!!!
Well, whether you are or not, I’ll see ya next month.