Signs, Signs, Everywhere There’s Signs

Another week and a half to go before I get the cast removed and can be unhooked from the ice pump. In the meantime that does mean I continue to be confined to this here recliner 24/7, with no real adventures possible.

So allow me to reminisce about a previous one instead…

A little while ago I was asked to give a “Careers in Radio” speech at Gallaudet University in Washington DC. Gallaudet is the oldest all-deaf college in the United States

Talk.

To deaf people.

About radio.

I should end this entry right here. I can’t top that.

This all started years ago when I was dating a girl who had two deaf brothers and a deaf sister. She wasn’t afflicted herself, nor were her parents. Her siblings just happened to luck out in the Recessive Gene Lottery.

They were a pretty cool bunch, although I have to admit it was VERY hard to not view them as “stupid” rather than the more accurate “retarded” sometimes. They even had a little terrier that they taught to follow sign language commands. (I had a lot of fun screaming counter-commands out loud while one of the deaf kids was signing “sit” or “come here”. The dog didn’t know if visual or audio took priority and froze in place every time. The deaf-os never caught on.)

I learned a few signs myself, along with that whole ridiculous hand alphabet thing. By contorting my body and comically (to them) o-ver e-nun-ci-at-ing I could usually, eventually, make myself understood. I  was at least able to master swear words and foods signs, both of which were very important to me.

So after one brother, then the other, then sis, graduated high school and shipped off to Gallaudet, girlfriend and I would occasionally drive down for a visit.

Here’s the one thing you need to know about Gallaudet University if you ever go: it is the single loudest place on the face of the earth. You interned in a howler monkey sanctuary next to a Quiverfull daycare center? You worked at a vuvuzela factory? Used to moonlight as a crash test dummy for Conrail? Pah. You were in a sensory deprivation tank compared to lunch hour at the G.U. cafeteria.

See, when you can’t hear anything, you have no idea how much noise YOU’RE making. Slamming something down – a book, your fist, a baby – is the same as gingerly placing it, as far as your concerned.  So imagine you’re in a tiled room with 8 or 9 hundred people all making those comical deaf people mouth noises – and by “making” I mean “bellowing” – while simultaneously banging on every horizontal surface trying to alert another deaf person via vibrations that they wish to converse, stomping on the ground for the same reason if there’s no other surface.

Over that din the hearing staff, teachers and scullery worms, are screaming to each other at the top of their lungs in a usually vain attempt to make themselves heard. And all this is combining to make  8 – 9 hundred tables, place settings, silverware, glassware and serving trays jump, skitter and shatter from one end of the resonating chamber to the other. Why the hell don’t they give these people plastic, and make them eat standing up? They can’t talk with their hands full.

Don’t think it’s appreciably better outside the cafeteria, either. Pretty much all the same factors are at play, just minus the toaster pizzas.

Suffice it to say that I emerged from my first visit almost deaf myself. But I was better prepared on subsequent trips, packing along a set of Army surplus earplugs, the type issued to tank crews.

But time passed, the girl and I parted ways, and I lost touch with her siblings and the rest of the arm waving crew. Probably 15 years went by before I thought of them, or Gallaudet University, again.

Then, out of the blue, I got a phone call from one of the teachers I’d developed a passing friendship with all those years ago. She’d was visiting friends in New York City and heard me on my morning show. I’m not on any social media, but I am in the phone book (to NewWifey(tm)’s ongoing consternation) so she gave me a ring. She was still at G.U., but now held a department chair.

Hey Danger, how’d you like to take a trip down to D.C. and give a careers talk?”

“What? Tell deaf kids  – deaf kids – to consider a job that doesn’t hire deaf kids? What the hell?”

We’re not asking them to consider it. We’re getting professionals from as many fields as we can, even if it’s something they can’t do. The kids need to learn about more than just their own microcosm.”

“I don’t really remember any sign language. Other than ‘dick’, ‘puke’, and a few other things.”

Don’t worry, we’ll have translators. Bring your wife, too. I’ll treat you to lunch.”

“Only if it’s not in the the cafeteria.”

What, did you lose your earplugs? Ok, fine.

So I agreed to go and give the talk. Professor Lady also threw in a room on campus for the night to sweeten the deal. A couple of Fridays later, then, NewWifey(tm) and I took the 5 hour trek down I-95 to our nation’s capitol and America’s premier institute of Higher Learning  for the deaf.

To tell them how great it is to be a hearing person, because they can listen to me on the radio. Nice.

But actually the “talk” went very well. The kids paid attention, laughed at my jokes (“Knock knock.” “Who’s there?” “A deaf person.” “A deaf person who?” “What?“) and asked pertinent questions at the end (“What does ‘listen’ mean?“).  Even the meal afterwards was nice. And quiet.

NewWifey(tm) had a good time too. She got to make fun of people who had no idea she was making fun of them, and she got free food. Show me a woman who doesn’t consider that heaven.

Afterwards we repaired to the room the professor procured for us. It was a vacant dorm room on the second floor of a student apartment building, sparsely furnished but clean. Bunk beds. I claimed top.

Unfortunately, unlike the restaurant, it was anything but quiet. With deaf kids above, below, and to either side of us, it sounded like they’d put us up at a bowling alley. There was no way we were gonna be able to sleep.

I was just about to suggest we bag the dorm and find a Motel-6 when NewWifey(tm) said, “Let’s fuck.”

“WHAT?” I said.”Now? Here? In a student dorm room?”

Why not? It’s not like anyone’s gonna hear us. C’mon, we can play a role playing game. I’ll be the little deaf girl, and you can be the fat middle aged guy she wants to fuck.

“Why am I always typecast?”

Shut up . Take your clothes off.

What could I do? The poor girl was deaf.

I gotta hand it to NewWifey(tm), she’s a quick study. She was waving her hands around and grunting incoherently just like a native. I really felt like I was taking advantage of some poor differently-abled waif. We let it all hang out, bouncing off walls and furnishings without any care that people in adjacent rooms would catch on.

And they didn’t. Until….

NewWifey(tm) had just climbed up onto the to top bunk and was lying over the side on her back with her head down by my waist, locking her feet into the headboard slats so she could work hands free. I was standing in front of her, cordless Hitachi Magic Wand ready to go.

And then the door opened.

We heard the “snick” of a lock behind us, then a quick creak of door hinges. And just like that there were three young deaf ladies in the room with us, staring open mouthed at NewWifey(tm) hanging upside down and naked from a bunk bed, and me apparently about to bludgeon her with a miniature Louisville Slugger.

We found out later that there had been a mix up at the front desk. The three girls – visiting students from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in New York – were supposed to bunk in the room next to ours. But were given our spare swipe card by mistake.

And that’s how NewWifey(tm) learned the signs for “Oh my god!” “Ewwww!” and “RAPE!!

Have a good night kids , ya hear?

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21 thoughts on “Signs, Signs, Everywhere There’s Signs

  1. Awww, you and NewWifey(TM) have the most romantic vacations in the most exotic places. I’m sure you’ll never live it down… er, never forget the touching experience. Right?

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      1. As much as I’d like to feign ignorance of Goop, I suppose that’s an appropriate level of notoriety for you. I admit only to knowing what Goop is – not to actually reading the dreck written by a pseudo-has-been-performer whose best claim to fame was taking her top off in a Shakespeare film. Then again, I guess it’s a good match for your shenanigans, so go you!

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      1. I work with Deaf children for a living, so I’m used to the banging and yelling. Although we teach ours to tap shoulders. I have one particular kid where I go in to his class and tell him (in sign) he is making my ears hurt because he is yelling and he doesn’t realise lol.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. How about that! You must have quite a bit of skill, not to mention the patience of a saint. Good for you.

          I made fun of them here (since that’s my job), but in real life I found the deaf community to be a fascinating one, filled with incredibly talented individuals. I felt fortunate that I was able to share in their lives, even if it was only in some small way, for those years I was with that girl.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. This brings back memories of the night I got very drunk in the teachers quarters of a posh boys boarding school, mistook the boys dorm for a toilet (rest room) and threw up over a rich kid’s bed, before staggering back to the teachers flat, finishing off all the drinks on the table, and doing something I’d like to be able to forget with someone I’d like to be able to erase from the planet. And that was only the tail end of the night. The next morning I drank all the booze left in the bottles and was carried home to my mum. I had to crawl up the stairs on my elbows and knees. Happy days…
    After three days in bed I’d almost recovered.

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  3. I was watching a homeless deaf guy by the side of the road yesterday. He was asking for food. Somebody finally “got” what he was saying and handed him something from Burger King. His “thank you” was said over and over. I melted into the seat.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your poor seat 😦 This brings back memories of the night I got very drunk in the teachers quarters of a posh boys boarding school, mistook the boys dorm for a toilet (rest room) and threw up over a rich kid’s bed, before staggering back to the teachers flat, finishing off all the drinks on the table, and doing something I’d like to be able to forget with someone I’d like to be able to erase from the planet.

    Liked by 1 person

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