A few years ago my parents and I shared a meal with my paternal grandparents. While any meal at "Nanny and Papaw's" was an adventure, this time was especially entertaining. At the time, my grandfather and my father shared a hunting lease, and over lunch the subject of making deer sausage came up.
My papaw proclaimed boldly that when grinding meat, the proportion of deer meat to sausage meat was 50-50. This was all well and good until my grandmother politely corrected him, telling all of us that he was mistaken and the correct proportion was actually half and half.
For a moment, no one spoke, then in no uncertain terms my grandfather informed her that she was wrong and the correct proportion was 50-50, as he'd originally stated.
My grandmother, this time more adamantly, responded by telling all at the table that it was most certainly half and half.
This discussion, between two people well into their seventh decade, went on for several minutes while the rest of the family exchanged confused glances and tried not to laugh. Finally, my father interrupted the conversation long enough to tell his parents that they were both saying the same thing. Always one to get in the last word, my grandfather pointed his finger and triumphantly told my grandmother, "See, I told you, woman!"
We all might get a laugh out of how quickly and how far off my grandparent's argument went, but if I'm honest, my wife and I have been guilty of some of the same types of communication errors. Disagreements over how I pronounce the word applicable, whether toilet paper should go over or under (the obvious answer is over), and the often-repeated phrase "When did we discuss that?" are all telltale signs that my elderly grandparents aren't the only ones who've dealt with a failure to communicate.1