Sukia and Barbara Wesenberg



Creative Hearing

Barbara Wesenberg

Inspiration piece

Some of the funniest, and admittedly sometimes frustrating, moments are when we hear things differently than what was actually said. I call it creative hearing because a lot of times it just seems easier to make up what you think you heard rather than hunting down what was actually said. Creative hearing happens when you are in one room and your partner is trying to talk to you two rooms away. It happens with children, with people who are hard of hearing, with people who just plain aren’t listening, and most notably with song lyrics. One of the books that made me laugh out loud was a collection of misheard song lyrics. It’s hysterical what people make up when they can’t understand the words.

The other day when a dear friend of mine needed a laugh I reminded her about the misheard lyrics. She said “I can’t believe you brought that up, I just found a page of them”. So she started to read some and when we got to “Village cheese is not my lover” or as most people know the line “Billie Jean is not my lover,” we just were beside ourselves with laughter. And what’s so interesting is that even though you know the words you create don’t make sense, you sing them anyway…sometimes for years.

Another friend of mine, as a child, thought the line from the Lord’s Prayer “and lead us not into temptation” was “and lead us not into Penn Station.” She said she wondered why God didn’t like Penn Station, but repeated it faithfully for quite some time before she finally asked her mom. It became a treasured family story, and now I think of it every time I say the Lord’s Prayer.

My husband’s mother and her good friend who were both hard-of-hearing, were trying to have a conversation. It went something like this: Margie said, “I’d like to get some cherries on our way back.” Edna replied, “Sherry, I don’t know any Sherry.” Margie said, “You know where we passed cherries by the side of the road on our way here.” Edna said, “No, I don’t know any Sherry Siderow down here.’’ Margie said, “We just went by one!” Edna: “Well I didn’t see her.” By this time the rest of us are shouting cherries, and laughing amazed that they even got that far in the conversation. Both Edna and Margie have passed away, but anytime cherries come up…

I’m beginning to love the alternate interpretations and find they can really make myself laugh when I think of some of the things I have misheard. So, the next time your loved one says (from two rooms away) “did you call the electrician today?’ and you say “no, Election Day’s not til November!” have a good laugh and know that your creative hearing is working just fine.

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  1. Posted September 8, 2010 at 5:18 pm | #

    “Creative hearing” … what a wonderful concept!! (I did laugh out loud at the idea of trying to avoid “Penn Station”!!) And the beautiful artwork is a fabulous interpretation of the notion – thank you both.

  2. Posted September 11, 2010 at 6:17 am | #

    I agree with Valbonney. This brought back the things my children used to say (like garden-mother instead of godmother) and the happy picture illustrates so simply and effectively the connection between one concept and another. It’s lovely.

  3. Posted October 9, 2010 at 5:53 am | #

    Well, I did a book with Malachy McCourt, “Harold Be Thy Name.” Malachy’s best-selling memoir is “A Monk Swimming”(hail Mary, full of grace, blessed art thou…) anyway fun! Thanks.