This morning my friend Judy sent me this joke:

Last summer Ed met a woman while on vacation and fell head over heels in love with her. On the last night of his vacation, the two of them went to dinner and had a serious talk about how they would continue the relationship.

“It’s only fair to warn you, I’m a total golf nut,” Ed said to his lady friend. “I eat, sleep and breathe golf, so if that’s a problem, you’d better say so now.”

“Well, if we’re being honest with each other, here goes,” she replied. “I’m a hooker.”

“I see, Ed replied, and was quiet for a moment. Then he added, “You know, it’s probably because you’re not keeping your wrists straight when you tee off.”

Of course I laughed out loud at the punchline. A few minutes later, though, I thought about how we all listen with filters turned on, just as Ed did. He immediately translated hooker into golf-speak because that’s what he thinks about and what he cares about.

To some extent, we all do this. In my own life and work, I am making an effort to truly listen to what the other person is saying, and to try not to color my interpretation too narrowly. Of course, my life experience will affect my reception of the other person’s message in one way or another. As a matter of course, I am listening as a woman, as a mother, as an American and a Canadian, and as a writer (and now as a podcaster too!).

What do you think?


  1. And, of course, the challenge comes from not only being a hooker, or not, but from our cultural origins.

    For example, for YEARS I tried to find out what a Potter’s Field was (a line in a beloved Tom Waits song). I still haven’t found out what one is, but have given up. nd there are no doubt many Australian expressions that we fully understand every subtlety of them but that completely baffle aliens and other non-Australians.

    Ahhh, this global community is indeed a fabulous place for both misunderstanding and bridge building! Imagine, who would have thought I could strike up a friendship with someone in Canada? I’d only ever visited Montreal for a conference years ago and now I am in regular correspondence with someone from that wonderful country. Amazing, huh?!


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