"All right, on this page are snaps of a cat I grew fond of during one of my aborted marriages," Harold said. "Her name was Chloe. She was likely part Siamese. Pure white coat, blue eyes. And stone cold deaf."
"Yes, I've heard all white, blue-eyed cats are deaf," James said.
"Not quite accurate, lad. I looked into the subject."
"I'd be astonished if you hadn't."
"I learned that congenital deafness is extremely rare in non-white cats, which represent 95 percent of the general cat population. Now, only five percent of cats are white. And fifteen to forty percent of these white cats have one or two blue eyes. Of those white cats with one or two blue eyes, between 60 and 80 percent are deaf. About 20 percent have normal hearing…"
"ZZZZZZZZZZ," James said.
The professor laughed. "Sorry."
"So you grew attached to this cute little thing."
"Yes. And in a round-about way Chloe and I had something in common."
"No, something related to her deafness."
"You can hear perfectly well, sir. Unless you are a master lip reader."
"Yes, my hearing is OK. But allow me to elucidate the connection. Assume for the sake of this discussion Chloe had self-awareness. It would be therefore certain that from her perspective deafness was a normal state. Furthermore she could have no real concept of deafness, largely because she had never heard any sound."
"In other words she had nothing to compare her deafness to."
"Right. Which leads me to the connection. As you know, I grew up from birth without a mother. And everyone always said to me, 'Oh, you poor boy. It must have been terrible not having a mom.' They would never understand me when I'd reply, 'No, it wasn't terrible at all. You can't miss something you've never had.'"
"So this must be one of your ex-wives."
"Yes. The concert pianist. Look at those hands! I loved them."
"And she was an enormously gifted musician. Her interpretation of the Diabelli Variations was, in my opinion, superior to that of Daniel Berenboim."
"You miss her?"
Harold squinted. "Oh, hell no. Not at all. It's something I never permit myself."