Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Following the Conversation

I had my pedicure yesterday and it was such a nice treat to give control of my feet over to someone else for an hour.  The polish color I chose is a dark rich brown with a hint of gold frost - called Native Soil.  After the brilliant aqua blue of Ebb and Flow I had for the last spring-y two weeks, I was ready for something a bit less... brilliant.
The girl who gives me my pedicures is named Kim.  She is Vietnamese, and her last name starts with a "G" so everyone just calls her "Kim G."  For the longest time I thought it was Kim Chee.  That's what I heard.  And that is where the problem begins.
I love Kim G.  She is funny, and generous (she once treated me to a chocolate peanut butter smoothie - you haven't LIVED until you've had one of those.  Unless you're allergic to peanuts.  Then it could kill you.  But I digress.)  She does the absolute best job making my feet as nice as possible.  She never mentions my chronically swollen right ankle - she just treats it with care.  She never complains about how bad my callouses are (too much information?) - she just buffs them off.  She has given me the best recipes for spring rolls and beef and lemongrass rolls.  I put them into "Notes" on my iPhone while she dictates.  I look forward to my visits with her.
The problem is that she is Vietnamese and, like many Asian women, speaks very softly.  I never thought my hearing was bad (although my kids would argue that point) but there are many times when she is telling me something - usually a long story about her mother or her sister in law and I have no clue what she is talking about.  So I do this:

I can't believe that I'm the only one who has this problem.  I want to follow the conversation - I really do.  And it's not the accent.  I'm good with accents.  I just can't hear her very well.  Americans talk really loud, I guess, and that's what we're accustomed to.  But Kim's voice is soft and sweet, and half the time I'm totally in the dark.  I mean, I called her Kim Chee for several visits until one of the other girls laughed and told me what her name really was.  An American girl.  Kim never did correct me.  I laughed it off, but when I saw this cartoon, I realized that I'm not alone in this charade.  You ALL do this, don't you? *looking stern*   I know you do... there's only so many times you can say "Huh?" before it's really annoying.  So we assume the appropriate expression and play along.
Anyway, I saw this cartoon on Facebook, and it made me laugh, since it's exactly what I was up to yesterday with Miss Kim.  She was trying to tell me something about her sister in law and it was all blah blah blah...  I think I smiled or looked concerned at the appropriate times, but we're never sure, are we? She probably tells her next customer about the crazy deaf lady in the previous appointment.  And for some reason it's only during her stories.  When she's giving me a recipe my ears are suddenly like a bat's.  Perhaps there is some magic in the power of food, or even the suggestion of it.  But we already knew that, didn't we?


  1. Oh, I can so identify! I was born over 50% deaf, something most people can't tell. However, if I can not see a person's mouth when they are talking, and they have a soft voice, I have a hard time and have perfected the method shown in your cartoon.

    It sounds like a heavenly color- I don't think I've ever seen it~

  2. I have the same hearing problem at my salon. I thought it was a short circuit between my feet and my ear drums

  3. Working with foreign docs has made me pretty good with accents..except for one Korean doc. He will tell a story and, like you, I find myself laughing or smiling or my fav: "Oh, really, that sounds great"..to whatever he's saying. One day I thought he was telling me about something he did in Canada..except it was about his new "calendar"..I gave up ever understanding him after that.

  4. This reads like a Jerry Seinfeld monlogue, super k. Have you tried writing to Ann Landers? :) For years I was a customer at a salon used primarily by women. Based on numerous conversations I overheard while having my hair cut and styled I offer this advice. Next time that woman gives you a pedicure and begins one of her long stories, in addition to nodding, smiling, frowning and stroking your chin, there is a 99% chance of accuracy if you occasionally interject with remarks like "That bastard!" and "I hope she kicked him to the curb!"

    I'm sure your pedicurist realizes there is a language barrier and makes allowances for inappropriate responses on your part. If the problem is mostly that she speaks too softly you should tell her that you are hard of hearing and ask if she could speak up a little. By framing it as your problem instead of hers you will achieve the desired outcome w/o offending her.

  5. What I think is even funnier is when my husband and I are talking to someone in passing and they go on and on with a story and then when we walk away we turn to each other and say, "What did they say?" and neither one of us has a clue. Then we laugh and laugh because the whole time we've been nodding our heads during the conversation.

    Do you get what I'm saying? :)

    And, chocolate peanut butter smoothie?? That sounds like drinking sin..

  6. I can't hear, and I admit it. The things I think I hear are so funny, as are the things I think I see (my sight is poor, too). I adore being such a mess. It keeps my life hilarious. In between pedicures, I recommend rubbing body butter on your feet after you shower or bathe. But then you have to put on socks or everything on the floor sticks to your feet! Yuck!

    Janie Junebug

  7. that's funny...I just nod and email and say yes....who know to what?!

  8. Oh, how I do understand!! Of course I REALLY AM hard of hearing. I even went to the great expense of getting hearing aids. Do I use them all the time? Heck no, the only time I do is when I really want to hear something on TV as well as watch it. those darned things make my ear canals itch. Why am I so allergic to everything?

    Having said all that, I think it's great that you have someone who can really keep your feet looking lovely. Do you know that I have only had one pedicure in my whole life, and that one only because my daughter Jayne, who lives in Salt Lake insisted that I get one with her. All I can say about it is that I thought it all a bit strange.

  9. Oh I related am related am ARE. My theory is those of us who attended at least two or more concerts/dances with amplifiers are now paying for it with deafness. My husband keeps complaining I'm not answering him, and my only saving grace is my daughter when she's with us going "yes she did, you don't hear her"! Of course I often don't hear him either. It's a miracle we even know what is going on with each other some days...
    Enjoy your mani/pedis!

  10. I usually do well, but I had Filipino gardeners when I was young, and I had so much trouble understanding them that it was embarrassing. I would always allow myself to ask them to repeat what they were saying two times. After that, I just pretended I understood and did my best...


  11. I used to work on a landscaping crew and frequently sat in between guys who were learning to speak English through the radio. We laughed a lot about our situation and sometimes just ate our sandwiches in sweaty silence. I miss those days.

  12. So decadent (foot madssage...ahhh!)...and so FUNNY! Like Yay said, working with foreign docs you get used to understanding...or pretending! Love your cartoons...well said!

  13. P>S> Thanks so much for your encouragement and support!


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