Friday, September 12, 2014
Smile -- There Are Deaf People Nearby
"Smile!" The photographer yells just as he's going to take the shot.
"Smile," your mother says. "You look so miserable!"
"Oh, no! Here comes Ashley. Just smile and nod."
There are several different kinds of smiles and a hundred more reasons to smile. But are they real? I mean are you genuinely happy and do the sides of your mouth naturally turn up when you feel that way?
Nowadays, one can't know whether the person you're next to is actually honestly smiling or if they're faking it (or if they're constipated). And if you're "different" than the immediate crowd maybe the question shouldn't be, "Wow! I wonder what fantastic thing she's smiling about," but rather, "Why is she smiling so hard at me?" It's true!
When I walk into a place with people around, as soon as I start signing and people realize I'm deaf, they start to smile at me as they pass by. That wouldn't be such a big deal if they knew me or were just smiling naturally, but no! The people start to metamorphosis into plastics--mannequins--with, "Please don't talk to me," glaring from their eyes. It's frightening!
I guess I should be used to it after all this time, but it scares me! And this makes me have the same eyes glaring back, echoing, "Please don't talk to me!" In fact, if it's a bunch of people in the same vicinity, I might fart or something to get those terrifying faces to leave. (That DOES work, by the way.)
So here's some advice--
if you're around people, deaf or otherwise, who make you feel awkward, try not to fell obligated to smile. If you make eye contact, give them a small polite smile and then leave them alone. That's what I would prefer. Or maybe just ignore us all together. Now, if you are a skilled signer,that's different. Then by all means, approach me!
Smiles are there to help people express pleasure or happiness. Don't feel the need to do it just because you're nervous. Wait a few minutes and maybe something will happen to give you a genuine reason to smile.