Wednesday, July 15, 2009

'Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy

Being the parent of a one-eared kid can be a pretty surreal gig, no doubt. As I mentioned, we're pretty committed to a surgical solution for Ethan, which means we pretty much spend every waking second looking for signs that we're making the right decision. Most days the only thing we can offer is a silent prayer to no one: "Please don't let us fuck him up too bad."
So when we realized that Ethan was hearing things wrong -- song lyrics, TV dialog -- we thought we had all the validation we needed. In one specific example, about a year ago Ethan started calling people "Schmoody Bounden." He said it like it meant something and that we all should know what that something was. Even Thomas, who speaks fluent Ethan, had no idea what he was talking about. We shrugged it off until one day Sandi flat out asked him. He said, "You know, Schmoody Bounden, like they say in Ice Age." (What!? They don't say anything LIKE that in that movie, and I should know because we only watched it 3 times a day every day for 6 months!) So, with our fact-finding hats donned, we brought the DVD in the van with us and put it on heavy rotation, asking Ethan to tell us when that line was uttered. Turns out he misheard Sid the lisping Sloth saying, "Sure he found them?" Schmoody Bounden. That counts as validation, right? Sure it does. No, not really. Well, it does now. While I was saddened to see evidence of his muddled hearing, I was a little relieved for the reinforcement. Which it was. Reinforcement.
Then last week the universe presented me with another one of those god damned "Connections" moments. Stupid universe. Long story short, I took the kids out for dinner and a movie (ironically, Ice Age 3-D -- not their best work, but decent. Before I put in the end paren here, I just gotta say I LOVE 3-D MOVIES! Man, Ethan, your generation is LUCKY as BALLS!! Our movies blew and in our day kids' movies were the worst -- embarrassing even). So the Friendly's at which we ate was pretty new and had a really good sound system through which they pumped rockin' hits of the 70's (Aw, HELL yeah!) for all to hear. Me, shameless child of the 70's, grew up with all these tunes and, between the occasional break to stop a fight or remind the boys that I would indeed kill them if they didn't knock it the fuck off, I blissfully floated down memory river. And then this one particular song came on: Don't Call Us (We'll Call You) by Sugarloaf. I hadn't heard that tune in like forever, but I remember it well. Because Friendly's was a little on the crowded side, I refrained from singing along, which I guess gave me a chance to really hear the lyrics. And I must say they were in no way like I remembered. For instance, this is what the singer really sings: "Did you relate to our quarter-track tape? You know, the band performs in the nude." This is what I grew up thinking he sang: "Do you relate to a cold 8-track tape and do you dance the bump in the nude." Schmoody Bounden.
Of course, I chalked my mis-hearing up to the fact that the 70's were entirely in mono and were rarely played on anything bigger than a 2-inch aluminum foil speaker. Uphill both ways, hand-me-down shoes and so on. But it turns out such misunderstandings are not cause for alarm, or even unique. There are entire Web sites dedicated to misheard lyrics, and some of the examples aren't so much bad hearing as they are obvious cries for help.
So here I am thinking I found every reason I ever need to have my son cut open -- because he misunderstood a cartoon sloth with a speech impediment. By that logic, had my parents known all the songs I misheard (you mean it's not "Slow Walkin' Walter, the Fire Engine Guy"?), they would have felt perfectly justified in going all Clockwork Orange on me, me droogies.
So now what? Now I'm resigned to trying to trick Eth. It's all I got. I wander around behind him whispering stuff to him while he's watching TV, then ask him to repeat what I said. So far he's 127 for 127. Prick -- I mean, darling boy.

"Let's pee in the corner. Let's pee in the spotlight, loosened by religion."
-- REM

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