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Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Deaf Old B.

 "Soapy Sam" Ballard and Rumpole

She-who-must-be-obeyed is sure that I am as deaf as a post. She demonstrated it again yesterday when she came into the bathroom as I was in the shower and asked, "Did you have trouble getting the tines up this morning?"
I asked her to repeat it, and she did.
I could not quite place the word "tines" in my morning's context. I had not eaten yet and had no intention of eating any breakfast that required forks to crush and harrow, so the "tines" were a puzzle (or a "puzazzle" as I just typoed, pronounced puh- ZAZZ-ul, and which is now a word I rather fancy as an intricate and enigmatic puzz... "puzz" itself being a diminutive and endearment term for the old standard "puzzle").

So I did not say anything.
This went on for about 5 seconds, which is her limit of endurance for the lesser lights and creatures under her dominion.
"Would you mind saying that again?"
Whereupon she took it up a hundred decibels or so, and bellowed it loudly enough that I thought I could hear the neighbors say, No, they hadn't.

Finally, I asked what the "tines" were she was speaking of.
"TIMES," she said. "The TIMES!"
Whereupon I can't say I actually hear the nasal consonant M magically differentiate itself from its brother nasal consonant N, but all did become clear. When she gets up, I usually get the New York Times Replica Edition up on the laptop for her to read. She has a subscription for the Sunday edition, and we can sign in daily and take a gander at what a real newspaper looks like: New York Times.
She was asking me whether I had had trouble with it this A.M., if the NY Times software was being glitchy. I hadn't.

Later I asked her whether she was aware of the (1) water running in my ears, and (2) the context of the situation. If she had bellowed... err, asked me about the "New York Tines", I would probably have heard "New York Times" and answered the question.
In fact, if she had said "New York Chimes", "New York Mimes", or even "New York Slimes" I probably would have known exactly what she was talking about and would have heard "Times" correctly.
She harrumphed.
"Rumsfeld..." she said, "it is time for those ears to be checked."
She meant to say "Rumpole" (... "of the Bailey" type Rumpole) but it comes out Rumsfeld. That is fine; just as long as she does not start calling me "Soapy Sam" after Sam Ballard, who became Rumpole's head-of-chambers.

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