Lately I have found myself saying ‘What?’ a lot when people are talking to me, because I didn’t understand something they said. I mean, I say it a LOT. The scary thing is, I only say it around half the number of times that I WANT to say it– meaning that the other half, I do my best to interpret, through context and tone, the general idea of what is being said to me, and I respond accordingly (and vaguely). This tends to work pretty well– I don’t find myself responding in a totally inappropriate way very often, because conversations don’t tend to switch gears suddenly. By which I mean, if I am talking to someone about how lame our respective commutes are, and the person says something I can’t quite make out while making a wry face and I respond with, “Right, totally, that sucks”, chances are they will nod and continue, because they probably said something about how the T smells. However, in one case out of ten, they might have actually said something like, “But at least I can drive sometimes, and I really love my car,” so that when I respond with “Man is that lame!” it throws things off a bit.
The problem (well, one of the problems) is that constantly saying, “What?” to the person you’re talking to also puts a damper on a conversation. So, it’s a tough call for me either way. Maybe I need to get my hearing checked. Maybe my ears are lazy—or maybe the part of my brain that interprets sounds is lazy. I feel that laziness is the root cause of this, and not hearing trouble. But you never know. I used to listen to the Mighty Mighty Bosstones pretty loud in highschool. Not their new stuff—the oldschool screaming Skacore stuff they did in the beginning. That’s right! I was cool.