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Not paying attention merits attention

March 18, 2012
By JANICE R. KIASKI - Herald-Star community editor ( , The Herald-Star

"I wasn't paying a bit of attention."

Better Half shook his head as he verbalized the truth.

I turned to look at him seated behind the wheel, a smidgen of shock on my face.

I could feel that frown line between my eyebrows deepen.

"You weren't listening to me?" I processed the admission out loud, startled that he had absorbed none of the blah-blah-blah blabber of information I'd been spewing as we motored around town to do some of this, some of that.

I had relayed in laborious detail the fascinating twists and turns of my day, from an explosion of oatmeal in the microwave at work to the nail in my back left tire that made it imitate a pancake by day's end.

"Nope. I wasn't," he confirmed.

And here I thought he was being extra attentive, having interpreted his silence as intense interest.

I might have been none the wiser, I guess, had I not posed a question at one point in my monologue.

It was a question followed by a brief silence, a silence no doubt that came as a relief probably to Better Half's beleaguered ears.

Truthfully, I don't even remember the question, just his guilty plea.

He was busted, a student failing the teacher's pop quiz.

"I wasn't paying a bit of attention," I revisited the comment.

Not "I didn't hear exactly what you said."

Not "I missed some of that - could you repeat yourself, please."

Not "Did you say what I think you said?"

It was an outright case of "I'm just not hearing you - on purpose."


I might have been one angry how-dare-you-not-listen-to-me Mrs. had I not found this so incredibly funny.

It was also a little ironic because, hello, sometimes I'm pretty proficient at not paying attention to what Better Half says. On purpose. Repeat offender. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.

So I couldn't help but laugh at his casual confession.

And I couldn't help but chuckle to myself at how husbands and wife, men and women, communicate or don't communicate with each other as the relationship evolves through the years.

There are those early days of hanging on each other's words, convinced every sentence uttered is fresh and funny, remarkably original and clever and worthy to hang behind a refrigerator magnet for all the world to see or at least anyone in the kitchen.

There are those times of communicating without words spoken at all, reading each other's mind, knowing what the other person is thinking just because.

There are those times of actually talking, too, having honest-to-goodness, back-and-forth dialogue.

And there are those times of one person talking and the other person not listening.

That's the way it goes.

You clean up the oatmeal mess.

Fix the flat.

Life goes on - whether you're paying a little attention or none at all.

(Kiaski, a resident of Steubenville, is a staff columnist and features writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and community editor for the Herald-Star. She can be contacted at

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