Please listen to me

Rick Ryckeley's picture

Really shouldn’t be surprised. No one ever listens to me.

I thought, being married, things would be different. Doesn’t being married mean you have to listen to your significant other’s endless rambling, regardless of whether you want to or not? Surely it’s a rule written in the marriage vows somewhere, right?

Nope, not surprisingly, I’m wrong again.

Last night, The Wife and I were watching television. During one of the commercials, she looked over and asked, “What were you saying, dear?” Yep, I’d been rambling on for the last ten minutes, and she hadn’t heard a word.

This isn’t new, people not listening to my ramblings. It started where most of my stories start, while growing up at 110 Flamingo Street. 

Back then, Down the Street Bully Brad never listened to me either. I pleaded for him to stop every time he sat on top of my chest and punched me. Despite my pleading, he never did. When Dad got home, I told him about the poundings and asked him for help. I thought he’d go find Bully Brad and beat him up. At least that’s what I asked him to do.

Nope, Dad didn’t listen to me. His response was to demonstrate the importance of keeping one’s hands up while boxing. Keeping hands up — a hard thing to do with a bully perched on your chest and your arms pinned down to your sides.

Mrs. Newsome was my 11th-grade English teacher at Briarwood High School, Home of the Mighty Buccaneers. She didn’t listen to me either and was a stickler for proper English. The first day of school she told us, “Until you learn all the rules, you have to use correct English and punctuation in my class.”

 Halfway through the year Mrs. Newsome assigned a term paper. I was happy handing mine in early but not so happy when it came back the very next day. Seems Mrs. Newsome wasn’t kidding. And she wasn’t listening to my explanation as to why I had done so poorly, “I learned the rules, so I didn’t have to follow them.”

Folks at work don’t listen to me either. When I started years ago, I was a young guy who didn’t know anything, and no one wanted to listen to me.

Now, I’m considered the old guy. No one listens to the old guy; he’s too old to know anything. Somehow, I missed being the guy in-between that everyone listens to.

The Boy came over the other day asking for guidance. Finally, after a lifetime of no one listening, here was someone who really did want to hear me. I chose my words carefully and gave sound advice, based on years of experience.

When I finished, he said, “Dad, you’re not listening to me.”

As he left the room, I realized that somehow, ironically, The Boy now sees in me what I saw in my Dad so many years ago. Slowly over time, I’ve turned into someone who doesn’t listen.

Funny, it’s the one thing I promised I would never be. Guess sons do actually turnout to be like their dads after all.

I’d tell The Boy, but he’s not listening.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, is in his third decade as a firefighter and has been a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is storiesbyrick@gmail.com. His books are available at www.RickRyckeley.com.]