Billingsley’s Bullets: Is periodic blindness normal?

By From page A5 | April 02, 2014

Recently I ended up in the hospital emergency room with a swollen hand, forearm and elbow. The culture they took showed a staph infection in the bursal fluid. One of the people who was very helpful and nice in the emergency room was Mo Brutko. She quickly deduced that the reason I was there was because my wife, Monika, made me go to the emergency room for a medical opinion. Basically, Monika was not interested in my opinion and wanted a doctor’s opinion.

Mo was easy to talk to, and we landed on the subject of men’s behavior. She introduced me to the idea that men have selective hearing, which basically means men hear what they want to hear. Selective hearing may defy logic and reality, but we men prefer to continue to hear what we want to hear.

• I like to think that I am a very logical person, but it’s true that I occasionally experience selective hearing when I don’t like what is being said. Monika may say something like, “It’s been a long time since we invited so-and-so to dinner.” If I don’t want to share an evening with so-and-so, I don’t say anything, or I change the subject.

• Selective hearing relies on avoiding a response or at least delaying the response. Unfortunately, Monika immediately detects what I am up to and says, “Did you hear what I just said?” or she might say, “Oh no, you don’t” when I opt to delay my response. You can’t be married for over five decades and fool your wife about anything!

• Selective hearing may work if you have a naïve wife or a wife who is afraid to confront you. Otherwise it doesn’t work.

• Mo also introduced me to the idea that men have “refrigerator blindness.” She explained that, when men look for something they want in the refrigerator, they often can’t find it. After they give up looking for their item, they inform the wife that “it’s not there. Put it on the shopping list.” The wife then goes to the refrigerator, immediately sees the item, and hands it to her husband.

• The night before I met Mo, I could not find the Chinese hot mustard that Monika assured me was on the shelf of the refrigerator door. I sighed, closed the door, fully expecting to eat Chinese food without my hot mustard. Before I got to my chair, Monika opened the door and handed me the hot mustard. Mo was right, men do have refrigerator blindness!

• My co-worker Susie assured me that women are aware of men’s temporary blindness, and she stated that men also have “car-interior blindness.” Recently she asked her husband to see if she left her travel mug in their car. He looked, and no travel mug was in the car. Susie walked out to the car and found the mug under the car’s seat in about two minutes.

• Perhaps men do suffer from temporary blindness. I know I do! I rely on Monika to find everything when I can’t find it. I am also not patient when looking because I know she will prevail.

• Yes, I believe temporary blindness is normal for men! Kids believe it is normal, too. They never ask dad where something is. “Mom, I can’t find so-and-so” is said every day.

• Kids and men know who has the best memory and the best eyes. Take your wife to dinner if you can remember where your car keys are!

Thanks for the lessons, Mo and Susie.

Bob Billingsley is an El Dorado Hills resident and bi-weekly columnist at the Mountain Democrat.

Bob Billingsley


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