Being invited to a party isn’t something that regularly occurs for me. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m kind of reclusive and keep most of my socializing at home. People don’t know my face as well as they know my name from Deaf Expressions and such. But I was invited to a party with Kenny and I was a little reluctant. I mean, I would be the only deaf person there. Sure, Kenny would be there and he always happily interprets for me, but this party was to have a bunch of his friends and I didn’t want to make him interpret the entire time. Hence, I knew that there would be times when I would be on my own.
Prepared with a pen and notebook to write to people when necessary, I bundled up the nerve to get out of the car and approach the house with Kenny that night. It was a beautiful house. Small, but very nice and I knew the people who lived there, the people having the party, were nice, too. Kathy and Jack had socialized with Kenny and me a few times. Well, not Jack. He always seemed to have somewhere else to be. But Kathy tried to have conversations when she dropped off her kid to play with my kid or I saw her at school. Mostly it was just a wave of the hand though.
Being at the party was pretty cool. I like dancing. No, there wasn’t actual dancing, but I got to see a move that I think teenagers would get a kick out of and maybe make into the new fad thing to do on the dance floor.
Just like any other party, Kenny and I would approach people and they would smile and we would smile and they would speak and Kenny would interpret to me what they said and they would begin bowing. Yes, that’s right: Bowing. But before the bowing, this huge smile would come on their faces. Much like the Joker in Batman. Their eyes would widen like a deer in the headlights, too. Now, put this huge smile and these bug eyes together and you get something not unlike what you would see in a horror film right before this smiling person stabbed you to death. Kind of a Chucky the Doll sort of thing.
But smiling and opening your eyes so wide they almost fall out of their head wasn’t enough. I could tell that, as soon as they realized there was a deafie in their midst, they needed the conversation to be over as soon as possible. This is when the bowing would begin. It happened the same way every single time: They would say something very short. Next, they’d watch Kenny interpret it. Then they’d watch me for my reaction. Finally they’d start nodding and bowing. Ta-da! They’d appear to say! Mission accomplished! I communicated with the Deaf chick! I am a saint! IT IS FINISHED! Then they’d start to slowly back away (bowing as they backed up, of course) until they bumped into someone else. Having to apologize (but of course—that’s the right thing to do), they’d turn to that other person, start a conversation, and that would be the end of it. Goodbye.
After a few of these encounters, I assured Kenny it was fine for him to go chat with some old friends and I found myself a comfy chair and huge alcoholic beverage and proceeded to sit there, doodling in my notebook. Every now and then someone would come up to me and start to talk. I would give them my biggest smile, letting them know I was Deaf, but had pen and paper to write on if we needed it, and watch them slowly bow away. It got to be so much that I felt like royalty. All I needed was a purple sash and one of those Princess rings you can get on QVC for only $29.95.