What do you mean it’s good?

M & J-

I’m a good listener. Well, sort of. My English degree requires phrases like that to be taken out of my vernacular. Until Obama gets revenge on ASU and invalidates my bachelors, I have to say I “listen well.”

Seriously though, I’m an aural learner, in the strictest sense. One or both of you might be too. I doubt it, since you don’t seem to hear a gosh damn word I say sometimes, but just in case, let me help you avoid the cyclical curse that befalls those of the aural persuasion.

You listen to people, I mean really listen. You expect them to do as they have stated that they will do. If they don’t, it doesn’t matter, because nothing can dissuade your natural tendency to literally interpret the messages of spoken word. You will take a habitual liar seriously, if for no other reason than to be the person who can recite each lie word-for-word to those who may have forgotten that they’ve been duped.

You’ll also take your own words very seriously, and you’ll be mystified when others don’t give the same weight to what you have to say- or expect that interpretation and decoding need to be applied to phrases as simple as “I’m going to the mall.” What did you mean? That you’re going to the mall, of course. What did they hear? Who the heck knows. Could be that you think they’re a bad mother, poor dresser, or a tax cheat. No way to tell what goes on in the mind of those who consistently seek the ulterior motive in basic conversational speech.

If you’re like me, here’s the problem you’ll undoubtedly encounter- most people only really pay attention to hyperbole. The fifteenth time someone asks you if you like the food at Chili’s, and you respond, “It’s good,” only to have them reply “What do you mean it’s good?” You’ll just learn to stretch things. “OMG THEY HAVE THE BEST FAJITAS EVERRRRRRRR.”

Hyperbole is addictive- especially if you finally feel like you’re getting your point across. It feels nice to think someone is listening as intently to your very important story about that time you saw Ken Griffey Jr. in a Planet Hollywood bathroom as you were when they went on for 15 minutes about their cousin’s gluten allergies. You’ll make Ken Griffey “the nicest/meanest guy ever” if you think they’ll actually remember what it is that you’re saying.

The problem is this- you know better. And one day, you’ll run into another “good listener,” and you’ll say something that you regret, or can’t live up to, and you’ll be their reason to be disappointed, or worse, become a cynic.

Don’t give in to the temptation to be loud, inflated, hyperbolic and pathological just because it holds the attention of others. That’s what 24-hour news networks do, and if I teach you anything in life, I want it to be that the less you can be like a cable news network in every discernible way, the better.



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