Liz Flaherty photo

What I Said Was…

“I don’t know what to write about,” I told my husband as we drove home from eating a lunch I didn’t cook—that’s the best kind. “I think I sound preachy sometimes, and I don’t want to do that. I’d like to write about something funny, only I’m not really feeling funny.”

He nodded. He’s good that way. I’m pretty sure he didn’t hear me.

“I was thinking I could make it ‘pick on your husband’ week. What do you think? I could write about…you know…your hearing.”

He took his eyes off the road long enough to scowl at me. “Not being able to hear isn’t funny. It’s as annoying to people who can’t hear as it is to people who have to repeat themselves.”

Oh, but I didn’t mean… “No,” I said, “I don’t mean about hearing. I mean about listening. You know, well, maybe you don’t because you never—but you probably don’t think that’s very funny, do you?”

He shook his head. He’s good that way. I’m pretty sure he didn’t hear me.

“The only time you hear anything first time out is when someone besides me is doing the talking. Then you hear them every time, even if they’re not even talking to you. Then you’ll tell me what they said and I’ll say, I know, that’s what I said. And you’ll say…”

“It’s not funny.”

Well, he sure heard me that time.

He and I laugh sometimes at our conversations, not that they would be funny to anyone else, but they are to us. And we keep them to ourselves because no one would understand them and because what one of us says is safe with the other one. (At least until I’m writing a column.)

Then there are the conversations we don’t have. They revolve around things like TV commercials, which he watches and I don’t. I don’t like very many shows, either, other than Jeopardy, but I’m really serious about not watching commercials. They’re stupid, for one thing, and they last longer than the shows themselves, for another. But Duane likes them and if I don’t see them, he tells me about them.

I nod my head. I’m good that way. But I don’t usually hear him.

Another conversation we don’t have is one that involves feelings. I am ready, willing, and eager to talk about mine and hear about his. I’ve been this way for at least 48 of the 48 years we’ve been married. He, on the other hand, is ready, willing, and eager to watch TV commercials in order to avoid talking about his feelings or, even worse, hearing about mine. He has probably been that way for that same 48 of 48 years. I’m not sure because I may not have been listening.

We eat out a lot. I’m not complaining about that. Ever. However, we have to pre-plan. It goes like this.

I say, “What do you want for supper?”

He says, “Something easy.”

I say, “We’re all out of that. What else?”

“I don’t care. Whatever you want to have.”

“I have to cook it. The least you can do is give me a suggestion.” I may whine a little there.

Deep sigh. Really deep sigh, then he says, “Let’s just go out.”

“Okay.” I’m good that way. So agreeable. “Where do you want to go?”

“I don’t care. Where do you want to go?”

“It’s your turn to choose.” I know this. I remember it very well. I threw it in there right after I asked which car we were taking. We almost always take his, although I never remember that when I’m looking all over the parking lot for mine.

“I chose last time.”

Hunger usually settles the question. Or who’s still open when we finally make up our minds. Even then, when one of us finally suggests a place, the other one says, “That’s where we went last time. Remember, you had…”

No, I don’t remember, because he’s wrong.

It’s still “pick on your husband” week (don’t look this up—I really did make it up). He just told me he didn’t hear what I’d said because he was blowing his nose, then said, “Don’t use that. Some things are private.”

So, okay, you didn’t hear that from me. Neither did he. He wasn’t listening.

But then there are other conversations, ones we’re smart enough to begin with the words, “I need for you to listen to me.” They’re ones that end with, “I’m always on your side,” or “I love you,” or “I love you more.”

Sometimes you don’t even have to talk. It’s right there in the other person’s eyes or the way they chew their thumbnail or their expression when they stare out the window at something only they can see. That’s when you don’t have to say a word, or hear one. All you have to do is be there.

Have a great week. Be nice to somebody.


Liz maintains a blog that you can visit by clicking this link:

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