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Jewish World Review June 1, 2001 / 10 Sivan, 5761

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Consumer Reports


Hearing voices

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- I'VE been hearing voices at breakfast again.

I'll be reading the newspaper, drinking my cup of tea and eating half of an English muffin, when a male voice begins broadcasting the day's major news stories. I keep reading, simultaneously listening, but carefully following my line of type. I eventually realize the voice is not Paul Harvey on the radio or Charlie Gibson on Good Morning America.

The voice is coming from across the table, behind a section of newspaper I have yet to get my paws on. The voice belongs to my husband. He belongs to that wacky group of individuals who believe a newspaper story isn't official unless you read it aloud to someone else.

There's at least one in every family. I should be able to cope with this phenomenon. I was raised in a family of out-loud readers.

When I was a small child staring down a steaming blob of lumpy oatmeal, my mother would read health and nutrition stories out loud. When I was in junior high, leaning on the table with both elbows and slurping Cheerios, she'd read Miss Manners aloud.

Of course, once I reached high school all that changed. That's when Mom began reading stories about car accidents, motorcycle accidents, drunken driver accidents, teenage vandals arrested with spray paint cans in their hands and more accidents. It was Headline News without an off button.

Sometimes Dad would pick up a copy of the Capper's Weekly and begin reading Farmer's Almanac reports while Mom excerpted current events. They'd both read aloud at the same time, which made for bizarre sentences like, "A semi-truck jackknifed on an icy section of interstate . . . causing prolonged drought conditions over much of western Kansas."

By the time I arrived at school, my brain would be so jam-packed with bits and pieces mostly of accident reports that when the teacher asked what was the main export of Brazil, I'd shoot my hand up and yell, "Three car pile-up on 65th Street, two injured, one hospitalized!" I couldn't help it. Given my early morning briefing, I was a walking police scanner.

Now, when my husband reads grizzly news stories aloud while I'm reading the fluff pieces to myself, I walk away from the table not sure what happened in the world overnight.

By the time I folded yesterday's paper, I had it in my head that the popularity of the tankini swimsuit was related to a small plane making a crash landing in Iowa. I thought there had been an earthquake that shook tall buildings in the Family Circus cartoon, and when I went to write down a recipe I'd read for a salmon salad, I listed carjacking and bank robbery as two of the main ingredients. I also made the mistake of working the Jumble while he was reading the world news digest. Trying to unscramble the letters M-E-N-O-G, I somehow managed to squeeze MIDEASTERN TERRORIST into five little blanks.

When I heard myself warning the girls that school probably would be operating on a 2-hour delay due to violent typhoons, exploding volcanoes and an outbreak of malaria, I knew it was time to lay down the law.

"We need to make a hard and fast rule banning reading aloud at the table," I announced to the man behind the local news section.

"Fine," he said,"and what does your edict say about women who read your newspaper column aloud to their husbands every week?"

"Oh," I said. "My edict also says that you are the smartest man in the world and that some rules are made to be broken."


JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here.

05/25/01 Cyborgs for Better or Worse
05/18/01 The death of Common Sense

© 2001, Lori Borgman