Friday, March 4, 2011

La la la la la la

I developed a really bad habit shortly after I married Bill. It's the ability to tune out conversations with which I am not involved.

Bill works all the time. When we were first married his primary means of communication with his clients was the telephone. He was one of the first people I knew who owned a portable/cellular phone. It came in its own suitcase. It was so big that it counted as a "carry on". He powered it from the car battery. He had a big case that took place in Connecticut. He would fly in and out of La Guardia and drive to Milford once a week for months. It was early in our marriage, and I thought that was what marriage to a lawyer was about. As soon as he got in the car, he would call me to say he was on his way and safe. But, the calls were very, very brief. Air time was REALLY expensive.

When he was home, he was often on the phone at night. He even installed a phone in the bathroom. He was THAT dedicated. I know that's more commonplace now, but back then it was still a little weird. I still remember that phone. We had redone the bathroom in blue and white ( I remember trying to make it look like a room in the Greek islands). It was actually the contractor who suggested the phone line - he'd just finished re-doing the kitchen and had Bill totally figured out.  I found a blue and white phone, and I was so tickled that it worked so well with the design. Bill was just glad that he could reach it from both the shower AND the toilet.

Anyway, my point is, I learned to tune out his conversations really well. Partly because I thought I shouldn't listen in, partly because I was usually busy trying to do something else and didn't like the distraction and partly because he annoyed me. He's a loud talker and enunciates really well.

The truly horrible fallout from this is that  I also started doing it with the kids (OK  - only Will).  When Will was little he was a big talker. He could talk nonstop about Lego construction and video game destruction and dinosaurs or whatever else was going on in his brain in minute detail. I perfected my 'tune out' with Will by also adding the occasional "really?" or "is that right?" or "that's cool" in what I thought were appropriate spots. Will caught on eventually (OK, pretty quickly). I KNOW there are other mothers out there who practice the same thing. Sometimes when we get into the car with our kids in the backseat it's just natural to zone out. It's almost like a "home free" zone where you don't have to pay attention to anything but the road ahead.

OK, the reason I'm writing this tonight is because I had the misfortune of sitting on a bus for 40 minutes in front of a woman who  (1) had an ANNOYING completely IRRITATING voice;  (2) was a horrible braggart; and  (3) was LOUD. For the life of me I could NOT tune her out. I couldn't figure out why my tried and true methods didn't work. Luckily, I had earphones and my iPhone and I tuned in Jazz 91.1 from Toronto.

While I listened to Oscar Peterson I tried to figure out why I couldn't tune out this horrid women. A few things occurred to me:  Bill doesn't talk on the phone as much any more. He EMAILS, he TEXTS, he works later at work and tries not to bring work home with him (OK, he does bring work home but our house is bigger than the one we inhabited when we were first married, and I go to another part of the house).
When Will calls me from school, I HANG on every word. I miss him and want to know everything and try to figure out what's happening with him  -even from his silences. I have earphones - a crutch!

I have completely lost the power to figuratively plug my ears and say "LALALALALALA" .

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