13 Lip Readers Share Things They Accidentally ‘Heard’ And Weren’t Supposed To

  1. While watching President Reagan’s televised funeral in 2004, at the very end when Nancy Reagan laid her head on his coffin and said goodbye, I think the media turned off the microphones to give her privacy because there were no closed captions for this part, but I clearly saw her say, “Goodbye, Ronnie. I love you.” I was not a fan of Reagan, but it was a poignant moment.
  2. At one of my previous jobs, the VP of my division was often late for and/or missed meetings, much to my manager’s chagrin. On one instance, my manager decided to stop waiting for him and start the meeting without him. My manager: “OK, so David is at a sweat lodge.” I mis-lipread that as “David sweats a lot.” My manager: “Have you guys ever done that?” Me: “Umm, no, I wear deodorant.” — silence around the conference room. Finally a coworker figured out what happened and said, “Oh no, she said ‘sweat lodge,’ not ‘sweats a lot!'”
  3. This isn’t so much a mis-lip-reading, but more of a context error: friends went traveling in Africa for a few months, and when they got back, a group of us went out to eat while they regaled us with stories of their trip. I turned away from them for a few minutes to make a comment to the person sitting next to me, and turned back in time to see them say, “… and while we were in Mombasa, we had really bad crabs.” Without missing a beat, I said, “Damn, I’ve heard those things itch like a motherfucker. How did you get rid of them?” There was an uncomfortable silence around the table for a few minutes while people tried to process what I said, until someone figured out I’d misunderstood the type of crabs they meant. “No, not pubic crabs; the kind of crabs you eat!” Ooops.
  4. There was the time back in college when I said to my roommate, “I’m going to the store. Do we need anything?” She responded, “Dryer sheets.” I thought she said trucker cheese and I was very confused for a few seconds.
  5. Of course, there have been a few times when people were making fun of the way I talk, not realizing that I can read their lips, and I went over and gave them a piece of my mind.


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