What Did the Football Coach Just Say!?


This is a line or a question, rather, that I got from my parents many times growing up. I was always happy to oblige as it usually allowed me to curse in front of them without any real penalty. The coaches quite often said something along the lines of "fuck this! or fuck you!" Little me is giggling reflecting on those incidents where I knew something my parents didn't. Thanks to a learned skill of lip reading I could understand those bleep moments when many did not.

I started thinking about these childhood memories this past weekend while I was in Mendoza consuming all too much wine. As I'm sure you're aware, we celebrated the Royal Wedding! I didn't get up quite as early as some to watch the procession, but I did get to see some of the ceremony.

As I was watching on a Spanish television where they're dubbing over the English language with Spanish, I realized I was at a bit of an advantage to my fellow English-speaking travelers, not because I understand Spanish particularly well but because I could lip read (which is in our spoken English, obviously). Whenever the camera was on the person speaking, I was able to understand nearly all of what was being said. And later, I remember seeing all these articles and memes where people were dissecting what Harry said to Meghan when she arrived at the altar. It didn't occur to me that this was not a 'for all to hear moment', as I had already deduced that he told her, "You look amazing. I'm so lucky..." 

Anyways, after explaining my 'ability', one girl that's traveling with me asked if I could teach her how to lip-read, and it had me thinking back to previous experiences with lip-reading and realizing that I'm not sure I even know how I learned since I've just been doing it all my life and therefore not sure I would know how to teach someone. (Challenge accepted!)

I remember my parents telling me that at a young age, before I got my new ears, that I would stare at their lips and mimic the movement. The cow goes "MOOOOOO" (cue baby Ashley making semi-fish face)! They and their friends have told me on many occasions that I would say "I can't hear you" and move their hands from their mouths or make them look at me (aka I was really trying to say "I can't see you!"). Funny how these little habits start before you're even aware of what it means to process information! 

It was basically the same thing when I went to school. I need to sit in the front because a) I'm a nerd and b) because I need to see you [to hear you]. I never really knew it as something that I was doing that nobody else was doing, precisely until my parents started asking me to decode football coaches' profanity on the TV screen. They knew this random skill I had, but I didn't, or I just never viewed it that way. 

I remember, once, asking my dad why the baseball players covered their mouths at the pitching mound huddle and why coaches on the sidelines in football covered their mouths with playbooks. "Because of stinkers like you!" is I'm sure what he would've liked to have said. Instead, he was way more calm and patient in explaining that teams would hire people to read the lips of the players and coaches for the opposing team. Gotta say I'm quite bummed to have missed out on that career opportunity and also how rude are people that that was at one point a necessary thing!?

Anyways, I was and still am the unofficial translator for any 'unheard' content on TV for my friends and family. What a prestigious position to be in, I tell ya ;)

I also think about an incident at girl scouts camp one year in which one of my fellow brownies asked me to teach her to lip read. We stayed up late while everyone else was asleep shining flashlights up on our faces in an attempt to have a conversation and hope that she was understanding what I was saying like I could understand her. Pretty sure we just said the same thing over and over again until she finally got it right! And looking back on this, I realize how inefficient this probably was because as I've gotten older and better understand the nature of learning a language and in reading people in general, mouthing words to each other without sound is not a realistic portrayal of how you move your mouth when you're actually speaking. 

I'm willing to bet a percentage of you will now go look at yourself in a mirror while mouthing a word versus speaking a word. I think you'll find that you over exaggerate the no sound mouthing versus regular speaking. So keep that in mind the next time you try to tell someone something from across the room ;)

I've found lip reading to be a particular useful skill when I want to be nosey or am just feeling depleted of devoting energy to a conversation. I've mastered the art of being indirectly involved in a conversation between people on the opposite side of the room. It's an all around win if you ask me. I get the juicy details without having to contribute verbally ;)

It's perhaps my most reliant form of communication and a unique quirk about me. We all have little habits that we adopted at a young age that contribute to the way we interact with others. Perhaps you're not even aware that it's something 'odd' because you've always done it. I think it's pretty cool to know that we all have random little mannerisms that make our processing of information different from one another!