I have been blaming my trouble understanding people with accents to my hearing loss. Thinking about this, I realize that I have ALWAYS had problems with accents. (With the exception of Finnish accents--which the accents around here are based on.) And one time this problem came very close to me being embarrassed beyond belief.
After I graduated from high school, I tried college for about a minute and a half. Realizing that this wasn't quite what I wanted at the time, I quit and looked for work. Finally, after several months, I was hired to work in a dental office as an assistant. This office, for some reason, was the one recommended whenever any of the students at the university needed dental work. The university is (and was) a world-class engineering school and attracted students from all over the world. One day, I had one of these foreign students as a patient.
I don't remember the young man's name--and it doesn't really matter in the telling of this story. While waiting for the dentist to come in and do an exam, I tried to make the young man comfortable and less nervous. We began talking. I found out that he was from Kuwait and that he was to return home shortly, after getting his degree. His country was paying for him to attend school, as they did for anyone who wanted an education. The only stipulation was that they must return home after getting their degrees. He either said, or implied, that money was very plentiful for him. While talking, he made a remark about how much he liked blonde hair, indicating my waist-length hair. For the most part, I was pretty sure I understood everything he was saying, even with his very strong accent. However, I did do some of the 'smile and nod your head like you understand' thing that most people do when they don't want to ask someone to repeat what they are saying. It was shortly after that I realized I didn't quite 'get' all that he said, that he was telling me how he was looking for a wife to bring back home to Kuwait with him. I also realized that he was implying that I would be a good candidate for the job! It most certainly didn't take me too long to let him know that K was very much in the picture for me and that we were serious about our relationship. Undeterred, the young man invited me to visit him in Kuwait whenever I wanted. He promised to give me a camel as a gift if I ever made it to his country. Obviously, I never made it to Kuwait, but I sure wouldn't have minded having a camel as a pet. :)