Friday, June 15, 2007

Or Maybe He Was Just Giving Me The Finger

I saw something the other day that has had me scratchin’ my noggin ever since. It doesn’t fall in the category of “stupid.” But it does fall in the category of “unusual.” Mostly because I’ve never seen anything like it before.

I was cruising around town on my daily mission (spreading joy and wonder is a full-time job!) when I saw it. A deaf guy walking down the street. Talking to himself. In sign language.

Now, anyone who lives in an urban environment sees/hears people talking to themselves on the street on a daily basis. It can be amusing, nonsensical, threatening or just plain sad. And it’s usually accompanied by a request for money and an assault on the olfactory system.

This fellow appeared to be in complete control of his faculties. He was perfectly well-dressed and groomed. But he was walking down the street signing to himself.

Is this common? We have a fairly large deaf population here in Austin. And I’ve been exposed to a few folks socially who happened to be deaf. I even have a former employee who moonlighted as a deaf interpreter. Man, if I could have Samantha Stevensed him into my car at that moment I would have. Not only could he have told me whether the behavior was common on not, he could have eavesdropped for me.

I mean, seriously, once I got over the initial curiosity factor, I was DYING to know what was prompting his soliloquy. Missed the bus? Jilted by a lover? Fucked up a job interview? Rehearsing for a play? Swarm of flies?

Or maybe just reciting his grocery list over and over again, so he wouldn’t forget. Cheese, bread, beer, condoms. Cheese, bread, beer, condoms. Okay, so that’s MY grocery list, but you get the point.

And then there’s the whole “mirror factor.” If you’re signing to yourself, do you have to do it in mirror image, so you’ll know what you’re talking about? Or would it be like listening to a record played backward?

Shit, I’ll probably be muttering to myself about this all day.

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