The Old Coot admits it – Men don’t listen!

I’ve been moving stuff all week to a new place in Owego. My mind and body are shot. So I’m using this article from 2012 to readmit that I don’t listen.

Men don’t listen. And worse, we don’t know it. We think we’re good listeners. Our wives know we’re not. They have to deal with it all the time.

“Why are you getting all dolled up,” we innocently ask.

“Because we’re going to the play tonight with Nick and Nancy. I told you about it last week and reminded you again at dinner, just 20 minutes ago.”

This is when the wisest among us shut our mouths and start to get ready to go out. Many of us aren’t that smart. We whine, “You never mentioned it to me.” That’s when we get the short version of the lecture on how we never listen. We’ll get the long version when we get back home after the play.

It’s not our fault. We try to listen. We’re positive we hear everything our wives tell us, but we don’t. I think it’s a right brain, left brain thing. When somebody talks to us we are all ears, for about ten seconds. Then our brain switches into a sports mode. It drags up images of scoring the winning basket as the clock winds down to zero. Actually, it doesn’t drag up the image; it makes it up. There never was a moment like that. The male brain can’t distinguish between fact and fiction.        

It’s not just our wives we don’t listen to; it’s everybody. It’s why we get in so much trouble. We’re in a conversation; the other person talks and talks and then stops and looks at us and says, “So, do you think it’s a good idea?” We have no idea what they are talking about, but we never admit it. “Sure,” we respond. “That’s a great idea.” Then we discover that we just loaned our car to our neighbor’s teenage son for the prom.

“How could you do that?” our wife asks. “It sounded like a good idea at the time,” we lamely respond. “You had to be there.”

I’m so glad that women are getting into leadership positions in business and politics. It was a tough road without them. If a woman had been in charge of Ford Motor Company in the 50’s when the design team made the pitch to introduce the Edsel, she might have listened to the engineers who warned that it was too soon, that the bugs hadn’t been worked out.

As it was, Henry Ford the 2nd was daydreaming about the Detroit Tigers when the discussion took place. When asked if they should move ahead and introduce the car in the 1958 model year he said, “Sounds like a good idea.” 

It’s just the opposite with women. They hear everything, even the stuff that you never say. If the words make it into the little waiting room in your brain, the place you put stuff for a few seconds before you let it go public, women hear it.

They also have long-term memories. We say stuff that gets them so mad they can’t see straight. But they don’t say anything at the time. We hear about it two months later.

“On December 2, at two in the afternoon, you said I looked a little chunky in my new coat.”

Here’s where tact has such great value, if only we were smart enough to use it. We have no idea what she is talking about. We don’t even know she has a new coat. We can relate to December 2; the Giants were playing the Eagles that day. The stupid among us, blurt that information out, ala, “Didn’t know about the coat, the Giants were playing, etc.”

Those of us who hope to live to a ripe old age take a breath and fake it.

“I remember saying that. It’s bothered me every single day since then. I almost cried; I felt so bad. It wasn’t true anyhow; you looked great. I was mad because the Giants were losing and I took it out on you. How can I ever make it up to you?”

Of course it’s all fiction. No man would ever say those things. How could he? He never heard what she was complaining about to begin with. Remember, men don’t listen. 

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