Thursday 17 July 2008

I'm deaf, please speak slowly

In my experience of being deaf, (hahahaha, ahem sorry but I just mistyped that as ‘dead’), you come across several species of people and often, right from the start, it’s easy to work out what breed a person is.

First, there’s the ‘Ears’. Lovely Housemate is one of these, as is School-Best-Friend-and-Head-Girl and NikNak. These wonderful people don’t think twice about making phone calls for me, queuing up in shops and listening for the all important bag question and generally hearing out for everything that I don’t.

Then, there’s the ‘proactive doers’. These people want to fix situations for me that I find difficult, don’t like seeing me upset about being deaf, and often appear to move heaven and earth to make life easier. Not surprisingly my parents are the King and Queen of this category… long may they reign.

In third place, there are the non-believers. They’re a rare species and have the endearing qualities of a female praying mantis right after she’s mated. I have encountered quite a few of these in my lifetime, including the Special Needs person at my uni, which was incredibly frustrating as she wouldn’t sort out any support for me as she thought I was faking it. I actually can’t remember her name, but I can remember her face – think of the ugliest character ever created by Roald Dahl and times it by 10 and you’re halfway there.

Then, there’s the really special species, pungent, disgusting and rarer than the likelihood of Jesus being born in Stonehouse. Luckily, I have met very few of these, but unfortunately I had the misfortune of coming across one when I was just 16 and my hearing was on its way out.

There I was at a line dancing evening with Friend-Who-Outed-Me-As-Deaf, Jen, (no laughing about the line dancing – I defy you to try it and not like it) and I had bought a raffle ticket. At the end of the night, the compère started to call the winners… and I was one, except I didn’t hear him call my number.

Jen finally nudged me to let me know I’d won and I went up to collect my prize. The guy, clearly frustrated by my slow reactions asked me, using the microphone if I was stupid, and I whispered to him that I was deaf, as I was quite shy about it in those days. The next thing I heard was his voice booming down the mic saying, ‘so you are stupid then.’

To this day I still wonder how long the surgery would have taken to remove the microphone from his small intestine and I guess, if I ever meet him again, I’ll be able to let you know.

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