The older I get, the more I find myself thinking: “Say what?” Sometimes it’s because I read something incorrectly. Other times I heard it wrong. I think I suffer from audio-dyslexia. Pieces get switched around and what I hear bears very little resemblance to what was said. Still other times it’s not my fault. People just say and write the most bizarre things.
My audio-dyslexia manifests itself several ways. Sometimes I flip vowels. Sometimes I flip consonants. Sometimes I flip entire syllables. I’ll even insert or eliminate letters altogether. More often I just plain mishear.
I had lunch out with friends yesterday. The husband wondered what was in the prime rib omelet. “What an odd combination,” thought I. Actually not so odd, because he was looking at a fine herbs omelet. Let me explain how this works. My brain audioed an almost-rhyming “prime” for “fine.” Then it audio-dyslexia switched the “e” and the “r” in herb (the “h” was silent), giving “reb,” which became “rib.” Really quite logical, for a brain gone haywire.
My husband (whose store is near several colleges) told me the other day, “The students are back.” To which I replied, “You glued your aunt’s black what?” Here we have another principle operating, that of inserting audio word-breaks where they don’t belong. So, his statement sounded to me like: “Stud (long “u”) ents black (inserting an errant “l”). You can take it from here. By the way, I never met any of his aunts; they were all deceased long before we married. Go figure.
My visual dyslexia is rather like the autocomplete on a computer, only my brain is doing it as I’m reading. For example, there was an ad in the right margin of my email screen recently with the query: Mortgage Underwear? “Say what?” I asked myself. Turns out it said: Mortgage Underwater? My visual dyslexia switched the “a” and the “e” in "water" and deleted the “t” for good measure.
Swapping out vowels in words I read seems to be one of my more regular visual problems. I was reading a map of North Carolina and chortled when I saw the town of “Old Fart.” I know a lot of people retire to North Carolina, but did they have to name a town after these “old farts?” Turns out, no they didn’t. The town is actually Old Fort.
One category that can be counted on to provide fodder for the “Say What?” list is email subjects, especially those that are spam. Take for instance one I received a few weeks ago, titled: “Be the man you used to be.” Newsflash: Despite those who will swear I have a pair of brass ones, I never was a man. Besides, time marches on. There’s no way I could ever be the woman I used to be. I could aspire to be the woman I’d like to be. Or to be like the woman I used to be. But technically, I think, not ever to be the woman I used to be.
I’ve seen some other things online that drove me to a “Say What” that might be typos. Or they might actually be Freudian slips. First there was “athlettes.” A typo? Or a more delicate term for female athletes? You be the judge.
My favorite one of these is a recent Facebook item from a friend who encouraged us to share her post on our own pages, because it would bring us lots of money. She admitted that she didn’t know exactly how it worked, but it definitely had something to do with “the Chinese art of Fungus Shiue.”
After my initial “Say what?” I figured out she must have meant Feng Shui (which is pronounced Fung Shway). Too late. I kept picturing that poster people hang in their office. The one that reads: “I feel like a mushroom here. They keep me in the dark and feed me lots of bulls - - t.” I admit that I consulted a Feng Shui book before I put our house on the market (fat lot of good it did me), but most folks think it’s just a load of bs. So, Fungus Shiue might have been a Freudian slip after all.
The next time you hear me mutter: “Say what?” don’t think I didn’t hear you. I heard you perfectly clearly, as far as I was concerned. Just not necessarily the way you meant to be heard. If that bothers you, go fry a bike.