During one of my insomnia nights, I decided to grab my laptop and read some online news. There was an interesting article (and I cannot find it now, so I have to wonder if I dreamed the whole thing) on the frequency differences between the voices of men and the voices of women. Apparently, a male voice ranges between 100 to 150 Hz while a female voice ranges between170 to 220 Hz.
For those of you, like myself, who did not major in voice frequency in college, Hz or Hertz (not the car rental company) is the unit of measure of frequency and is defined as the number of complete cycles per second. When applied to voices, Hz helps to register things like pitch. I think I did learn about the Hz unit in a Physics class somewhere between the 10th grade and my college graduation, but I truly believe that the knowledge I gained during those years has somehow leaked out of my brain and is lost forever.
Anyway, after stumbling through this article, I did start to think about the whole difference in frequency thing, and I started to wonder if it was behind my husband’s lack of listening skills where I am concerned. I don’t mean to pick on him, but he has this nasty habit that I call “tunnel hearing”. Similar to tunnel vision, which is when a person can only see what is directly in front of him, my version of tunnel hearing is when a person can only hear what is directly in front of him. I can literally stand two feet to the side of my husband and ask him a question, and he will not respond. He is not being rude or insensitive; he cannot hear me. At one point in our marriage, I made him go see a hearing specialist. I thought all the years of listening to hard rock had finally taken its toll, but he passed the tests with flying colors. Go figure. So, I started to ask my friends if they experienced the same phenomenon as I do. This is what I found out.
First: A lot of men do suffer from tunnel hearing. It’s so prevalent that I am thinking of starting a non-profit for it. The funny and puzzling thing about tunnel hearing is that it only affects the communication between men and women. Men hear other men when they are right next to them; they can hear other men across a crowded bar; and they can even hear other men across a packed stadium during the Super Bowl. But a wife standing six inches to his side has not a chance in hell of being heard.
Second: Most men can adjust their hearing to their wives’ voice frequencies so that they can hear certain statements – even at a distance – and are able to respond to these statements without any prodding. These statements are (and not in any particular order):
- I had a slight incident with your car today that requires some minor bodywork.
- The Cable is out, and they said it might take a day or two for them to get it back.
- Do you want to have sex tonight?
As you might guess, number three is the statement that requires the least voice frequency sensitivity. I found out from my totally unscientific and undocumented research that men can be lost in the woods, miles from civilization, but when they hear those words, even if they do not know if they are meant for them, they will find their way home without help from a compass or GPS. The funny thing about voice frequency is that it never seems to affect single men. They seem to hear everything their girlfriends or dates say to them. Unmarried men never ask, “Did you say something?” Or “I did not hear you. What was that?” And the single women never seem to have to say, “Did you hear me? Or my personal favorite – “What did I just say to you? Do you even know?”
I have a theory on this married man – single man thing too in case anyone was wondering. I think when men get married and put on a wedding ring, the metal in the ring interacts with voice frequency and causes the tunnel hearing effect. I think it is a chemistry or physics thing. No ring – no problem: wedding ring – big problem. Someday, they may find a cure for tunnel hearing. Until then, I will just bide my time and repeat my questions over and over again and be happy when I get a response.
photo by DavidDave