(Digression: What's so bad about bribery anyway? You know, in some countries, bribery is such the everyday occurrence, that people are allowed to claim bribes as a legitimate expense on tax forms. Seriously! End of digression.)
Anyway, today, said minion asked said Solipsist, "How do you like the muffins?"
The Solipsist, in a bit of a rush and admittedly a bit punchy, heard "How do you like my face?"
Thinking this was an odd question and richly deserving of a snarky answer, YNSHC replied, "Your face? It's no worse than usual, I suppose."
Clarifications followed, and a good laugh was had by all. (And, yes, the next time the minion offers muffins, the Solipsist WILL be sure to run a tox screen on them before ingesting).
This got YNSHC thinking about the phenomenon of mishearing. We all have our favorite examples. From pop music, of course, you have "'Scuse me, while I kiss this guy" and "There's a bathroom on the right." Once, YNSHC was having dinner with some friends at a semi-trendy New York restaurant. One friend, speaking about the restaurant and its famous clientele, pointed at a booth and said, "I once saw Dennis Miller over there." What the rest of the table heard, though, was, "[mumble, mumble] Juan is smelly over there." It was one of those great you-had-to-be-there moments, but the rest of the table convulsed with laughter for the next three courses.
What causes these moments of aural dyslexia? Obviously, unfamiliar accents and failure to enunciate are culprits. That explains WHY people don't always understand what is being said to them. But what fascinates the Solipsist is the automatic impulse to translate. That is, we don't hear NOTHING when we mishear; we hear SOMETHING, and our brains quickly convert what we've heard into something resembling a coherent (if odd) message. Even though there was no "Juan," three people--without discussing it amongst themselves--translated a mumbled statement into a judgment on this non-person's hygiene. Even though the minion had no reason to ask his boss about his face, the boss--rather than hearing "nothing" or just coming to the realization that he had not heard--"heard" the odd question.
Our brains' need for order is apparently so great that they will impose order on not just the disorderly, but on the thoroughly order-less. It supports the idea that there is no objective reality, only a series of random events with order imposed by these wonderful little computers in our heads.
Maybe the Solipsist is just reading too much into things. But that kind of proves the point, no?