Sunday, July 25, 2010
TAKE A PICTURE -- IT LASTS LONGER
“Mom, why is everyone staring at us,” my daughter asked me the other night, as we were eating at Cici’s Pizza.
“I’m guessing they’re seeing us sign to each other and are curious,” I responded.
After all, sign language is such a beautiful language, right? (groan)
Day in and day out, I am inevitably approached by hearing people who claim, “Oh, I wish I knew how to sign. It’s so beautiful!” And it is. I love my language, don’t get me wrong. But, man, oh, man, I just get so tired of having people say it to me. I mean, how many people, when noticing two people speaking, say, Italian, to each other, approach them and try to tell them how beautiful the language is? And come to think of it, how many people in that same situation would go stand within hearing distance and eavesdrop on the two Italians just because “it’s so cool”? Comparatively speaking, I’m betting it is few.
I’m guessing that, because ASL is visual, we get more attention when using it than people who use other foreign languages that are spoken. That’s totally understandable, too. And then there’s the “unusual” factor. Many hearing people have not knowingly encountered a deaf person. So, when they actually get to see one—using their language, no less—it’s captivating. “Wow! It’s an actual, real-live deaf person!”
I suppose I can’t be too judgmental here, because, I’ve done the same thing. When I see people who are “different” than the “norm,” I’m apt to look. I’ve even found myself staring once or twice. Was I embarrassed? Absolutely. Was I wrong? Absolutely.
Although I can understand the curiosity of seeing something that you don’t see often (or possibly have never seen before), it gets so tiring to always BE that thing. I’m sure other groups feel it, too. How many Amish people, when entering a city, get tired of being the center of attention because of the way they’re dressed? How many quadriplegics get frustrated when they attempt to go out with friends and family and everyone in their vicinity wants to watch and see how they do, well, everything? And how many little people become angered because everyone wants to see what they look like and how they accommodate for their size?
It’s no different with us deafies. Just once I would love to go out with my family into a public place and not feel like we’re the Saturday matinee. I feel like I should be selling popcorn, for Pete’s sake. I know it’s beautiful, people. OK? Thank you! But please stop staring!
I think I’ve decided what I’m going to do about this, though. I try to be lucrative, you know. So I’ve decided to start stocking up on disposable cameras. Now, when I do venture out and get as much attention as the five o’clock news, I can simply approach the person(s), hand them one, and charge them ten bucks. Seems fair to me.