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Can you hear me now?

Rosie SorensonWhen God created Man and Woman, she might have been indulging in a wee bit of hard cider from ye olde apple tree.

“Boy, that’s a knee-slapper,” she must have said, laughing. “They’re just enough alike so they can be together, but those differences? Now, that took divine inspiration! I’d better endow them with comedy, though, or they might just kill each other.”

One day last week I stood in the hallway and called out to Steve, my sweetheart of 15 years, “Honey, did you remember to take the cat litter out of the car?” He was sitting at his desk five feet away, around a corner. No response. I repeated my question, only a teensy bit louder this time. Again, no reply. I can’t say for sure, but it’s possible I might have amped up to Dolby Surround Sound as I headed for his office.

“Geez,” he said, looking up from his computer, grinning, “You don’t have to yell.”

“Well,” I said, leaning on his file cabinet, “I was talking in a normal tone, but you didn’t answer, so I thought maybe you didn’t hear me.”

He looked up at me with that handsome face I fell in love with and said, “You only have two settings, Rosie: Mumble and Overkill.” Thank God for humor.

When I stopped laughing, I said, “Yeah, but here’s the problem, Steve. You only have two settings for listening: Dim and Dimmer.”

This morning as he was lying in bed, I tried to tell him that I wasn’t sure if I had to remain at the hospital while our neighbor Jennifer had her colonoscopy, or if I could come home and then go back to pick her up.

“You what?”

“Jennifer — I’m taking her for her colonoscopy.”

“You have to stay there?”

“No. I just said maybe they’d let me come home and…” I sighed and threw up my hands. Sometimes it’s best to put down the words so no one will get hurt.

Sensing my frustration, he said, “No, go on, I’m listening.”

“No,” I said, collapsing into myself like an aluminum camping cup. “I’m too exhausted.”

So then, Steve started channeling me, mimicking my voice in a singsongy way, “You don’t listen, you don’t listen, then when you do, I’m exhausted.” He let loose a maniacal cackle.

“That’s rude,” I said, my sides beginning to ache from laughter.

“I just thought of a name for you and me,” he said, convulsing. “Dim and Dimmer. You’re Dim, and I’m Dimmer!”

“You’re plain nuts, you know that?”

“Don’t make me laugh — I can’t listen!”

— Rosie Sorenson

Rosie Sorenson is the award-winning author of They Had Me at Meow: Tails of Love from the Homeless Cats of Buster Hollow. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles TimesChicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and others. In 2007, she won an honorable mention in the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition.

Reflections of Erma