I have a hearing problem. Not like my ears are going bad from too many Creed concerts (well, they probably are) or something like that. I don't have trouble hearing quiet things. I have trouble hearing words correctly.
It's a lifelong problem. For instance, my favorite movie is The Man from Snowy River, which I saw in the theater when I was about 2 years old. And I've seen it a zillion times since then, on vhs and dvd. For years I believed that at one point a ranch foreman yelled to the ranch hands, "Anyone not ready to leave by sunup will get the entire landscape." I figured that meant that whoever wasn't ready to leave on the roundup on time would be stuck taking care of all the chores on the whole big ranch, the "entire landscape." It wasn't until years later, when I went through this phase where I'd watch my favorite movies with subtitles to pick up stuff I usually miss (or mis-hear), that I learned that he actually yells, "Anyone not ready to leave by sunup will get their tail ends kicked." Quite a difference.
I've mis-heard a lot of things in my life. For a very long time, I believed that the song "I'll be Home for Christmas" contained the lines, "Christmas Eve will find me/Wet, alone, likely." When I was little, I loved listening to the Elvis Christmas record my parents owned. Mom explained to me that that song was about soldiers who couldn't be home for Christmas because they were stuck far away fighting a war (the first time I conceived of war as a terribly evil thing). So if they were away from their families, fighting a war in the snowy winter, they were likely wet and alone, right? Yeah, well the song actually says, "Christmas Eve will find me/Where the love-light beams." I like my version better.
Another Elvis song caused me trouble for years, this time "Suspicious Minds". I was convinced the song began, "We'll call it a draw/I can't walk out." Turns out the lyrics are, "We're caught in a trap/I can't walk out." Hmph.
Most of the time I can make my mis-hearings make some sort of logical sense, as you can see. Not always. There's the celebrated case of Goldeneye. At the beginning, 006 (Sean Bean) shouts, "Closing time, James, last call." To which 007 (Pierce Brosnan) replies, "Prime your paint." That never made much sense to me. He actually says, "Buy me a pint." Good old closed-captioning, it's so helpful.
My oddest mis-hearing, however, is probably from the Temptations song "My Girl". It wasn't until after we were married that I found out from Cowboy that they're not actually singing, "I've got so much honey/Debegeezendubee." Seems what they really say is, "I've got so much honey/The bees envy me." Here I thought they were just going all Simon & Garfunkle and throwing in random nonsense words when they couldn't think of good lyrics.
Oh well. At least only rarely does this occur in conversation. Like the night I thought a co-worker had just informed me she had hemorrhoids. Turns out she really just had to have an MRI. Lucky her. At least her ears function correctly.