Faking It

There’s this lady, Noy, in RU, who works opposite me. She’s a little 4’9 firecracker, very outgoing and friendly, just lovely.

Unfortunately, I don’t understand most of what she says to me!

She has a thick accent. On top of that, we all are required to wear ear plugs. And on top of that, I have a suspected auditory processing disorder. This leaves me fairly clueless, sometimes, about exactly what she’s trying to communicate.

Not wanting to be impolite, I smile, nod, or otherwise react when it seems appropriate. It’s worked for me so far. Sooner or later, though, I know I’m gonna guess wrong and get caught.

It’s not just Noy. I do a lot of guessing what people are saying to me. It’s just easier than asking for clarification 16 times. I find the speaker can become really frustrated with me after a while. Poor Aislyn is often like, “Never mind, Mama.”

You might think I’m good at lip reading because of this problem. I am not.

When I was in second grade, and my cousin Tara was in sixth, I moved from Lynn to Swampscott mid year. We went to the same elementary school and Tara used to walk me to and from school. The first day we did this, I knew I was supposed to report to her classroom at the end of the day, but I didn’t know what to do once I got there.

So that first day, I walked into Mrs. Nordin’s sixth grade classroom. A bit of background, here: Mrs. Nordin was my grandmother’s age, notoriously old school and strict, as teachers went. It was not beneath her to yell at children she perceived as being noncompliant, and I know this firsthand because it happened to me once when I got to sixth grade. But I also knew this fact from my cousin, who described her simply as “a witch.”

Anyway, I entered Mrs. Nordin’s room with much trepidation that afternoon. Tara mouthed “Sit down” at me. But what I interpreted it as was: “Say hello.”

So I took a deep breath and stammered, “Huh…huh…HULLO?”

Mrs. Nordin looked amused. My cousin looked mortified. I then launched into a lengthy and frantic explanation of what I was doing there, while the entire classroom struggled not to crack up.

So that’s just one example of my failure to read lips.

I wish I could lip read. I think this would be an awesome super power to have. I would not tell anyone I could do it, and totally catch people telling secrets and saying potentially embarrassing things from afar.

I’m kidding, of course…or am I? Dunh-dunh-DAAAAAAAH!

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