Listening Part Two

Naptime“Listening, part two.” My voice resonates through my home office. Retroflex, subsonic liquid sounds in my mouth grate at my nerves. “You will hear about a woman who is a therpapisht at an orphanage for kit-cats.” I stop. “F-

And so, for the third time this evening, my neighbors hear the loudest English expletive since the time a car backfired while the B Monster was sleeping in my lap.

Every semester, hundreds of students take entrance exams at the university where I teach. I am in charge of creating the English entrance exams. This involves, to my horrified chagrin, a listening test that I must create and record the rubric for.

And so I spend hours in my home office recording and rerecording my voice for this ten-second introduction. Not coincidentally it is also the same period that I find hatred for every single aspect of my voice.

I talk a lot. People know this. But it’s only during the recording of my voice does it go through the awful transformations on which I focus a great deal of rage. None of these transformations do anything other than make me sound constipated, drunk or like I’m warming up for the guttural section of a Mongolian throat opera.

This evening, after exhausting the entire vulgar English lexicon in well over sixty takes, I move into a different frontier of error response. This can best be described as a deeply disturbed mix of scat singing, gibberish and slam poetry.

“Listening, part two. You will hear about a woman who is a therapist at an orphanage for cits, kitty kitty boo haggle doo mow flow diggadee boo. Frappalicious, dingle bat!”

I go on to scat about her job as a diggle doo fropp gazetter and her family, which consists of three tickly hat goober cadets and four prap happy noodle ducks. She drives a gizzy book barb corner, and on Fridays she usually skrabs the poodle tables until she quithhatlikates.

By the time I hit an acceptable take at about midnight, I have become the Cab Calloway of idiotic gibberish.

In the morning I drop off the CDs and Mp3 versions of the listening test to the boss and retire to my desk, grateful that I won’t have to hear my recorded voice for another year. At about noon, as I’m contemplating porcine tubular meats wrapped in bread and smothered in mustard is when my boss approaches. She comes in at me sideways, like a cat on the offensive. I try to look busy. “Dame,” she says. “There’s a small problem.”

Please not with the CD. Please not with the CD. Please not with the CD. Please not with the CD.

“Oh yeah?” I play it cool. My ego needs a fedora.

“It’s with the CD.”

My bowels clench. She reads my agitation, which isn’t hard as I’ve all but started weeping.

“It’s no biggie, though.” She smiles. “You’ll just do it again with Marek.”


This is a problem. The problem is not with Marek, who is our in-house audio specialist. He is friendly and soft-spoken. The problem is with whom he shares his office: the gloriously attractive Z. Z has perfected bitchy hot. Z wears skirts so short they are more like belts and blouses so low-cut they should be considered girdles. Z eats willing men for dinner and flosses her teeth with their entrails, while they thank her for her time and pay for the meal.

And now Z will be the audience to my deranged ramblings.


“He’s waiting for you now,” says the boss.

The office is cramped and I am snuggled in tight between the two desks housing Marek and Z.

Marek readies the microphone and smiles. “It’s no problem,” he says, “just tell me when you are ready.”

After five minutes of quiet, Marek suggests that instead he tells me when to go.

Now, I’m sweating.

He counts with beats of his finger; finally he points to me. “And, go.”

“Listening, part two. You will hear about a woman who works as a therapift, she is going clickety chickety goo and doesn’t hipharp on the smurf digeradoos one bit.”

The looks on Marek and Z’s faces are comparable to what I imagine the residents of Nagasaki gave the slow-moving behemoth coming towards them on August 9, 1945.

“Warm up,” I say.

“Oh,” they say in unison. They both shift in discomfort.

It all ends twelve takes later. That’s about twenty-five minutes to record a ten-second introduction. Marek and Z are now sweating, but at least they have started breathing again. It isn’t easy listening to the babblings of a lunatic on the life of a harmless woman who works as a therapist at a cat orphanage.

Marek searches through his online Czech to English translator.

“That is a,” he checks again, “wrap?”

“I am very sorry,” I say.

I leave the office and scat about Marek and Z on my way down for my hot dog. He is a doo hoppin cripple duck. She, a froghouse chittlebug.


  1. #1 by Nate on September 23, 2011 - 7:21 pm

    I’m crying I’m laughing so hard. I love your Blog, Damien. Please don’t ever stop.

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