I remember years ago slicing a banana into my bowl of CoCo Wheats. My 9-year-old daughter, drenching her waffles in syrup, wrinkled her nose. “Ew. That’s gross.”
With all the sophistication of a then-35-year-old man eating children’s cereal, I replied, “Waffles are gross. Bananas in CoCo Wheats — delicious!”
My daughter shook her head. “Daddy must be taste-deaf.”
Times have changed over the last quarter-century. And I’ve switched to a sensible grownup breakfast of hearty, nutritious and fiber-loaded oatmeal.
Of course, I stir in banana chunks and as many chocolate chips as I can get away with before my wife snatches the bag back. But it’s still, technically, oatmeal.
“That’s gross. You must be taste-deaf.” This is what my wife says to me while she pours coffee onto her oatmeal. Talk about taste-deaf!
Over the years, I’ve been accused of several varieties of deafness.
In college, I was grateful that the dress code for most gatherings was jeans and T-shirts. For dressier events, I’d panic in front of my closet at fabrics draped over hangers. I harbored no clue about which of those things paired together.
“You’re fashion-deaf, aren’t you?” one of my classmates giggled at a social. I guess it wasn’t the right decade to wear an orange-and-purple striped shirt, blue plaid pants and Puma sneakers.
Once in band while I assaulted a piece of sheet music with my trombone, the director yelped, “You’re sharp.”
“Thank you,” I said.
“No, I mean the notes. Yesterday, you played flat. Today, sharp.”
I fiddled with the tuning slide, sucked in a big breath, and launched another offensive. Through gritted teeth, the director growled, “You must be tone deaf.”
Another time, a girl named Wendy tried in vain to get me to hear the difference between the pronunciation of her name and of a breezy day — windy.
“I’m Wendy. WENDY. I’m not windy!” She nearly knocked me over with her yelling. “How can you be so phonetically deaf?”
The other night, my wife asked, “That thing I talked to you about this morning, did it go OK?”
She could tell by the panic in my eyes — sort of like staring helplessly into a closet full of scattered words draped over disjointed hangers of natterings — that I had no clue that she’d said anything that morning.
“You are so wife-deaf,” she groused.
I’m even growing a bit deaf-deaf. If you whisper sweet nothings into my right ear, I’ll hear half of it — the nothings part. If you need to tell me something important — like the pizza’s here — make sure my left ear is clear.
It’s not all bad. Serene, actually. I enjoy a broad range of music, probably because I’m too tone-deaf to be particularly picky. I don’t drop a lot of dimes in clothing stores since fashion-deafness allows me to fit comfortably into most anything.
I don’t get insulted when people mispronounce my name because I can’t tell the difference. I’ve discovered great new foods — except coffee on oatmeal — because taste-deafness doesn’t constrict my menu.
And when my wife complains about some stupid chore ... Well, OK, I better work on that one. Wife-deafness can lead to sudden ringing in one’s head. It’s not prudent to turn that kind of deaf ear.
Speak loudly at Cole at email@example.com or on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.