excerpt from Lend Me Your Ear continued…
But I didn’t know this. I thought the ear was a symbol of all the scenes of eavesdropping that appear in the film, nothing more, nothing less. I thought the severed ear and the blue velvet forged some artistic link to van Gogh and to Picasso’s blue period. This was the sense I made with one sense missing.

So, when the pieces began to fit together and I began, late in my twenties, to understand that I understood precious little of movies beyond the roar of the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park or the catchy little tunes of the latest animated Disney “classic,” I just stopped going. I had better things to do with my time than hog down a Three Musketeers and bad popcorn. There were other options for dates—especially since my dates now preferred to actually talk about the movie after it was over with, trying out their latest readings in critical theory on the poor, defenseless film over coffee, a drink, dessert. I couldn’t hold up my end of the conversation, so I let it stop before it could begin.


I could not always stop conversations before they began, though. (If a genie were ever to grant me three wishes, this would definitely be one of them.) And more times than enough, I found myself pressured into passing and then greatly pressured by my passing. Some days, you see, I could pass; some days I could almost pass; some other days the almost got yanked out from under me.

My first high school sweetheart was, now that I look back, a real sweetheart; when he could have yanked, he didn’t. He let me pass, and he let me do so with grace, saving my hidden deaf face, as it were.

What first attracted me to him was his gentle manner, his quiet, soft-spoken demeanor. It was that demeanor, of course, that doomed our relationship. He was a senior, I only a sophomore—and although I felt enormously comfortable around him (maybe because he didn’t talk much, so I didn’t have to listen much?), I wanted greatly to impress him. Apparently I did so, because a short month after dating several times, we were cruising main (the only option in Tribune besides “parking”—which only bad girls or longtime steadies did—or going to the movies) and Steve asked me to go steady with him, to wear his gigantic senior class ring. Actually, he asked three times. I didn’t hear a one of them. But by the third time—even across the cavernous distance of his big Buick’s front seat in the dark of a December night—I could see that he was saying something, trying hard to say something.

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