Sometimes I get lazy, and I don’t want to put my hearing aids in. If you are on my left side, I can hear you pretty well. If you are on my right side, you can forget it. So, when I walk with someone, or sit at dinner, I try to be either to the right of the person, or right across from them. It is really exhausting and would be much easier just to wear my aids. But I don’t.
I was sitting at dinner with a group of friends, and I added one of those conversational one liner jokes to the conversation and it got a great laugh. I started looking a faces around the table to see if the laugh matched the response, because when you can’t hear you have to do that. Everyone’s face matched until I got to the person directly to the right of me. Her facial features were hurt, kind of sad, and those sad eyes were looking directly at me. I was confused at the response so I didn’t ask her anything right away. Was I offensive? Was it a bad joke? Was it a dad joke? She spoke first.
“Really? No response for me?”
She pushed her chair out, picked up her purse, and quietly left. The table got quiet. I looked around at the faces and they had all gone from laughter to awkward. “What is happening?” I asked. One of my friends sitting straight across from me, and has no problem telling me the truth, let me know what was happening.
“You inserted your joke and it was a good joke. She told you that you are so funny and that she just loved you. You didn’t respond at all and just looked at her.”
“I didn’t hear her,” I said defensively.
“You don’t have your hearing aids in do you?”
I left the table right away and went after her. Luckily she was still in the parking lot sitting in her car just staring forward. I knocked on her window and she looked at me. Now she was mad. She rolled down the window and looked straight ahead again. “Hi,” I said. “What’s going on and will you please come back in?”
“That’s ok, I’m fine.”
“Listen, I’m sorry. I didn’t have my hearing aids in and I didn’t know that you said something to me.”
“I don’t understand the question?”
“Yes, why don’t have your hearing aids in?”
I didn’t have an answer. “I get self conscious.”
“Well you shouldn’t! We are your friends.”
“I agree and I’m sorry. Please come back in and I will put my hearing aids in and apologize to the whole table for not wearing them. I will admit that words matter, and hearing those words matters even more. I will say I am sorry for the words I missed, and most of all that I am sorry for the I-love-you(s) that I didn’t hear. Why? Because I love you all too.”
“You have them with you?”
“Idiot,” she smiled.
She walked back in with me, she slammed the door a little bit, but she walked back in with me. I made that apology to the whole table, and we had a great time for the rest of the night. There were a few great digs, and they jokingly repeated themselves louder to make sure I could hear them.
“I LOVE YOU MAN1”
I-love-you(s) come in many different forms. I want to make sure don’t miss any of them. I don’t want to ever miss another “I love you” again.