The Deaf Way
II Anthology: A Literary Collection by Deaf and Hard of Hearing Writers
You compromise with two weddings, the first one taking place in a deaf church. On the day that you marry, your parents weep, unable to communicate with those who clearly care for you, as a deaf person who has embraced them; your sister keeps smiling as if nothing is wrong. You send interpreters their way, but theyíre too frightened to make conversation with anyone. They canít stop watching how George and his pals carry on as if they never left school; in fact, you envy their shared past and their tight-knittedness. Your parents cannot disguise their discomfort, even with your second wedding in their church where you always sat in the third row to be able to lipread the minister.
With your husband, you find yourself more and more drawn into the deaf community. He reminds you not to pay any attention to the gossip swirling around you: Dave makes nearly twice what you make, and heís only two years out of college! You saw his paycheck. Mina has married a hearing man who canít sign shit, and she comes from a deaf-strong family! Scott, a heavy-set oralist, brings his hearing thin lover to a particularly rowdy night at the deaf bowling club! The guy has a tan so dark that his peroxided hair looks white. You saw him carrying on like a sissy in front of all those beer-toting straight bowlers. And worse yet, that bitch who stole your best friendís husband now claims to have known your boss all her life! You saw him nodding and smiling anxiously around her.
George reminds you not to pay attention to all of this.
You repeat the grumbly things he has said about this or that pal of his.
He rolls his eyes, as if to say, ďTheyíre just deaf, okay?Ē
But it is not long before you serve gossip along with toast in the morning, constantly comparing yourselves with these people.
4. Spend So Much Time With Your Deaf Friends That You Practically Have to Start Talking About Each Other. (A corollary: The Smaller the Community, the Better.)
With the birth of your first baby, you suddenly feel the overwhelming presence of deaf in-laws peeking out of the shadows, wondering whether your Eileen is hearing or not. Six months later she is found to be deaf, and there is so much jubilation on Georgeís face that he breaks into tears. You decide to stay home for a year or two, then longer when you learn of your second pregnancy. Your next baby, Robert, is hearing. You put your job on hold.
With both children you and George never use your voice. You simply sign, almost forcibly teaching your children signs instead of speech. Their eyes light up when they see you signing to them. They canít stop grasping for your fingers. You are so full of love, so full of hugs for them at every turn, that even George has to chuckle. You two no longer talk about other people, but about whatís best for your beautiful, beautiful babies. At home, you feel at peace, more so when George in his boxer shorts twaddles around with the children trying to climb up the moving mountain of their father in the living room.
Sometimes some of your deaf friends who are also mothers visit with their kids, which is always great. Naturally, everyone talks babies, but you suddenly feel a little out of it when they start discussing Al, one of your husbandís best pals. Seems that heís been having an affair with a deaf high school senior girl, and his wife, Betty, hasnít talked to him ever since she found out.