Face to face, I might ask people to repeat things, if I wasn't concentrating; even if what they said wasn't important and I've already caught the gist of it.
It's trickier if I miss part of a lecture or talk, perhaps because I lose focus, or because, say, someone behind me coughs. I can hardly keep putting my hand up to interrupt the speaker.
It's equally important to me not to miss dialogue on screen. Modern technology renders television an easy medium to manipulate - and so makes it almost impossible to resist this aural compulsion.
With the facility to pause and rewind even live television broadcasts, I find myself going back over the same short section of programme again and again, trying to catch exactly what was said.
Sometimes even this doesn't help. Increasingly, actors seem to mumble, and if they also have an accent, I might as well be listening to Swahili. Regional accents can be hard enough, but I also watch a lot of American series, which only compounds the problem.
|Frasier Crane in Frasier: Motor Skills (Season 8, Episode 11)|
Photo: Peter Gettins Photography
That's where technology comes in once more; with subtitles. If a couple of re-runs of a scene don't help, I switch on the subtitles, rewind and have another go. Often, though, they're slow to kick in and I reach the sticking point before the words appear on screen. I have to rewind yet again, a bit further, to reveal the mystery dialogue.
At which point, I often discover that this has:
1. Contributed nothing to the plot (or the comedy, if the show has a comic element), or
2. Is still incomprehensible, as the words are an Americanism, a made-up science-fiction term, or specialist terminology in a subject I know nothing about.
This happened recently during an old episode of Frasier, where the scrambled words transpired to be 'shoulder noogie'. From an internet search, my best guess is that a 'noogie' is a painful poke or jab. Perhaps one of my readers Stateside can confirm?
Inevitably, this habit drags out the time it takes to watch anything and also ruins a story's momentum. So, lately, I've been trying to resist this urge and just pick up what I miss as the story unfolds.
Besides, it's only television: how much of it is really of any importance? No doubt I'm better off spending the time I reclaim in the real world.
* * *
I haven't encountered another OCD sufferer with this compulsion. If you have OCD, is this something you can relate to?