1 of 2
Margaret Anderson
Margaret Anderson

"You talkin' to me?"

No, this isn't my Robert De Niro impression. I'm not that tough of a broad.

No, this is what I say to the people in my life who constantly have ear-buds shoved down into their ear canals.

My oldest son listened to Harry Potter audiobooks on an iPod all summer. In fairness, I can usually tell when he's talking to me because he speaks way too loudly in his attempt to be heard over Jim Dale's fabulous reading style. Remember your first time listening to a Walkman? Plus, he hasn't quite got the hang of the pause button, so when he's talking to me it comes out something like, "What's for dinner?!!!!"

But my husband's headphones are trickier. His double as his phone receiver. Is he talking to me or is he on the phone? Only time will tell. Plus, he's an audiobook junky. (He likes to burn through books listening to them on triple speed. Yes, I said triple. As in, Micromachines spokesman fast. I tried to listen in a couple of times. It was like eavesdropping on a foreign language and it left me feeling all panicky and a bit paranoid, like when I get a mani/pedi — I couldn't shake the feeling the reader was talking about me. So I'm never sure if my hubby's on the phone with a client, laughing at a passage from his book or reacting to something I've said. Hence the query, "Are you talking to me?"

I'm really not sure.

I experimented for a day and decided to join the ear-bud revolution. Three can play at this game, I thought. It was not a good idea. I was so tuned out to everything else around me, I had to keep my newborn in my arms all day for her safety. The rest of the kids could've been fiddling around with explosives in the backyard and I would've had no idea.

The worst part is, I became extremely curt and short with those who dared to interrupt and make me press pause, halting the momentum of a deliciously thickening plot, for mundane requests like sippy cups and Band-Aids. Can I read a book to you right now? Right now?! Can't you see mommy is listening to her story and the hero has only 28 minutes to solve the riddle before the next victim is killed???

1 comment on this story

I missed an appointment that day, too. The time completely escaped my notice. In fact, most things escaped my notice. My husband came home from work, changed into pajamas right in front of me only to genuinely startle me when I bumped into him in the kitchen. "Oh, you're home?" I hadn't seen him.

I decided ear-buds and audiobooks are not for me. At least not now, when the kids are little and I need to be able to hear the baby cry. And remember appointments. And engage with my children.

And as for getting my cute husband's attention, maybe I should take my cue from Mr. De Niro and take the offensive with that question: "Hey! You talkin' to me?!"

Because with those ear-buds out, I'm a much better listener now.

Read more by Margaret Anderson at www.jamsandpickles.wordpress.com