My wife believes in flying saucers.
And cups. And dinner plates. Even the occasional saucepan sails through space towards my beleaguered semi-deaf head. I say ‘semi-deaf’ because my hearing declined significantly after I was run over by that B-double truck on Main St. But I digress.
Now, I don’t want to give the impression that our marriage is unstable. Far from it. We live a mainly peaceful and amicable existence on our small farm. We grow a lot of our own food and the weather and the rabbits and the possums let us share in some of this bounty. We supplement our income by agisting horses, not that we make a lot of hay out of that.
No, the problem is my wife’s frustration with what she sees as an irredeemable flaw in my character, namely that her pearls of wisdom, not to mention her specific instructions, don’t seem to arrive at my ears as often as she would like and those that do arrive are somehow transformed into only a fair facsimile of what she believes she originally uttered.
I’m not convinced. For example, we were recently discussing the parlous state of our bank account and she said all of our problems would be solved if we had a million ducks. I pointed out that we didn’t have the borrowing capacity to fund the purchase a million ducks nor the space to raise them without us drowning in a swamp of duck doings. Half the dinner service my parents gave us when we got married was sacrificed on that field of battle.
When she eventually calmed down, she said living with me was like a never-ending game of Chinese whispers. I said it wasn’t fair that she whispered to me in Chinese when she knew I had a hearing deficit. The electric frypan has never been the same since.
Eventually, to keep the peace (or should I say ‘pieces’ of our remaining serviceable crockery), I agreed to have my hearing tested, if only to convince my wife of the error of her whispering ways. A very pleasant young audiologist took me through a series of challenges and she seemed very pleased when I indicated that I could detect a range usually only achievable by dogs and children at a great distance when dinner’s ready. She seemed very confused however when I related a recipe back to her that she seemed somehow to have confused with the Lord’s Prayer. University standards these days; what can you say?
She recommended hearing aids, for what seemed to her the very reasonable price of handing over our firstborn grandchild and the deed to the farm. I said I’d sleep on it and went home to my wife with what I believed were some very creditable lies I’d prepared. There went the rest of the wedding dinner service.
So I succumbed to pieces of electronic gadgetry being inserted in my aural orifices and awaited the auditory miracles I had been promised. Alas and alack, they seemed to be tuned to the same frequency as the local FM radio station and I heard more about ‘lerv’ than the glorious sounds of birdlife or my wife’s dulcet tones.
The Grand Inquisitrix was not fooled by my ecstatic claims of the joys of restored contact with the temporal world and that damned audiologist (seemed like such a nice lass originally) adjusted my devices to ‘give you back all the wonderful things you’ve been missing’.
This cornucopia of delights included the agony of our grand-daughter’s primary school choir singing, the avalanche of clichés possessed by football commentators and learning the gruesome details of whatever Third World country was currently at war/starving/suffering an epidemic. To say I was unconvinced that I had been delivered of a serious affliction is like saying that a man with chronic headaches was unconvinced of the need for his decapitation to cure the problem.
So, whenever I thought I could safely do so, I stuffed these harbingers of horror in my pocket and only retrieved them when my wife hove into view. And that worked fine. For a while.
I’d been out in the barn carrying out some repairs, with my ear trumpets in my pocket, when a sudden tap on the shoulder from my wife startled me. She gave strict instructions as to what to do with the horses that had just arrived on a double float. I assured her I would follow her instructions to the letter and that I was clear about what she was saying.
What I was clear about was that she appeared to be entering the early stages of dementia. I mean who in their right mind would want to staple horses together?
A compromise of sorts emerged with the idea of her sending me text messages when it was something important, the theory being that then there would be no room for argument about either party’s deafness or senility.
An admirable plan indeed, were it not for my wife’s propensity to be, shall we say, creative in her spelling. The early warning signs were there when she asked me to buy some naval oranges and I confused the greengrocer no end when I insisted on the ones only sailors eat. And imagine my shock when she said she was going over to her sister’s to help her with her dying.
The plan finally collapsed under the weight of the fiasco of her finding me and the local priest in the barn after she’d told me to exorcise the horses.
So now we just make sure we’re standing close enough to ensure clear communication, although this has led to dancing and who knows where that might end?