tales of a girl in the city

avril 15, 2005

I Also Know Sign Language

I was on the subway this weekend, watching two deaf people have a conversation in sign language.

"To learn," I thought to myself, watching the girl bring one hand to her forehead, as though pulling knowledge from the air and putting it into her head. "That means 'to learn'.'"

I suddenly felt very excited as I watched to see if I recognized any other words.

I didn't.

Considering that the extent of my sign language knowledge is limited to three songs learned in middle school chorus, one of which is "Bridge Over Troubled Water," this was not surprising.

What is surprising, however--and not a little scary--is that knowing the sign language for a few sixth and seventh grade chorus ditties sometimes makes me feel like I actually know sign language. As in, I think I could have a conversation in sign with a deaf person if I wanted.

Which, obviously, is totally ridiculous and untrue. Except if I and some deaf people were attempting to cross a raging river, and I intended to lay myself over it so that they could use me as a bridge. Then I would be golden.

For those who are having trouble fully conceptualizing just how golden I would be in such a situation, I have written out the following scene.

Editorial note: The following takes place entirely in sign language. Dashes are used to indicate silent moments of signing in which none of the signs used happen to coincide with a "Simon and Garfunkel" lyric, and Kathryn has no idea what is going on.

High winds and pelting rain barrage the tired Kathryn and her two deaf companions as they come upon the torrential waters of a river that has become swollen in a flood. It is imperative that Kathryn and her friends get to the other side.

Kathryn*signing*: I am weary.

In spite of their exhaustion, Kathryn watches as her companions try in vain to cross the river. However, her friends are thwarted each time because their legs aren't long enough to allow them to do a running jump. (In addition to being hearing impaired, they are, unfortunately, also short.)

Kathryn *not knowing what else to sign*: Feeling small?

Kathryn's Deaf Companions begin to cry out of frustration and hopelessness.

Deaf Companions *stating the obvious*: --------- tears are in ---- eyes.

Making one last attempt to run and jump over the river, her Deaf Companions trip on the now slippery ground.

Kathryn *trying a more compassionate angle*: I will comfort you.

They hug.

Kathryn: I'm on your side, oh, when times get rough.

All look dejected. River continues to swirl violently past.

Kathryn *suddenly experiencing an epiphany*: I'll be your bridge o'er troubled water!!

Kathryn's Deaf Companions look confused. They do not yet understand her plan.

Kathryn *explaining patiently*: Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down.

Demonstrating, Kathryn stretches herself out between the two banks of the river. Now fully grasping her intentions, the two Deaf Companions climb across her back and travel to safety. Upon reaching the other side, they begin to sign happily. Kathryn understands none of what they say, because her happy sign language vocabulary is limited, as all of the songs she knows how to sign are sad. Except for that song that asks over and over again, "Are you sleeping, Brother John?". But Kathryn already knows that neither of her Companions are sleeping, and she feels stupid calling them 'Brother John,' since their names are Frank and Elizabeth. So she just scrambles after them to safety and stands there smiling while they go on and on.

Deaf Companions: --------------- friend ------------ bridge ---------------------------------------------troubled water--------------------! ----- friend ----------------------- bridge ----------------- troubled water ----------------- ! ----------------------------------------- friend ------------- !! --------------- friend ------------------ !!

They finish by looking at her expectangly. Naturally they now think she is fluent in sign language. Because she clearly almost is.

Feeling obligated to respond in some way, Kathryn searches her sign language vocabulary for a sentiment that rings of positivity and relief. Finally, she hits upon the lyrics from the only other song she knows.

Kathryn *signing*: The greatest love of all is easy to achieve. Learning to love yourself can be the greatest love of all.

Her Deaf Companions, though slightly confused, are totally impressed and grateful.




Told you.


avril 08, 2005

Questions Anyone?

I need inspiration. Someone ask me some questions in the comment box. Or tell me what you've always wanted to read about here on Bellow. Anything. It's beautiful outside and I'm in a huge office, still traumatized by the swimsuit shopping I did yesterday. Help is needed.