Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I had an episode with my ear and a minor surgical procedure was necessary. Over the telephone, to a concerned relative, I sketched the scenario.
I remarked on the most difficult aspect, that the least sound from the medical instruments had been tremendously magnified- hardly surprising, given that the event took place inside my ear.
"So the doctor likely didn't hear any of what you heard," my relative mused with a little shudder.
"No, probably not," I agreed. "Just me."
"It's like that old saying," she continued, "if a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?"
My relative, it has to be said, is a good deal better at offering soothing words than she is at delving unsolicited into tangled abstractions.
"It depends," I answered, unable to resist, "but you forgot to mention something important."
"You didn't say whether anybody was in the forest at the time. That's a crucial part of the riddle."
"Oh," said my relative softly. I could tell, through a bandaged ear, that she was laughing and that there were tears dancing in her eyes.
"Still," she pressed, in an instant of enthusiasm she would soon come to regret, "it was a good allergy, wasn't it?"
More tears followed, but they stemmed from me this time.
"Yes. Yes it was," I said when I was able. "It was very good. You could even go so far as to say it was a good analogy."
If a well-meaning relative mangles and melts words without meaning to, where only one functioning ear is witness to the blunder- did it happen?
Posted by Phyllis Hunt McGowan at 1:19 PM