Monday, February 28, 2011

Formspring Q & A #16

Q: How is your speech? I mean, how well do you speak? I don't know if you do talk or not.

A: A legitimate question. Some deaf people do not speak and they do not for either one of the two reasons - they do not want to speak for whatever reason or they are unable to speak.

I do speak and I have interacted with other hearing people who have had zero experience with deaf people. I've discovered that there are three types of people when it comes to understanding my speech. Those who understand me with no difficulty, those who need to use imagination to understand me, and those who don't understand at all.

With that said, I've been told that my speech is "good" or "pretty good" for those with my level of deafness who do not rely on hearing aids to aid in communication.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Formspring Q & A #15

Q: Ever been pulled over by a cop? If so, how would you handle that? Would you be afraid?

A: Oh yeah, I have been pulled over several times by a cop. Yes, I get nervous every time no matter how many times I get pulled over. Why? I have no idea if the cop wants me out of the car with hands up or put my hands out the window or whatever. The cop could use the loudspeaker and it would not matter one bit. Can't hear!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Story series - Point A to B to A, not C, D, or E. Clear?

You've learned from last week's post that I had been driving for less than a year when I hit the Hulk. I have a better story for you and it's infinitely more entertaining. :)

I was staying at my father's for the weekend and I was in the mood to have my best friend over to hang around with. My father did not want to go get him (he lived 30 minutes away) and I told him that I would be more than happy to go. He tried to deter me by reminding me that I was low on gas and he was not paying for gas.

No matter. I was willing to go and get him and take him back home. My father sighed and said to me, "Okay. I will let you go, on one condition. You go there and get him and come back here in one hour. Got that?"

I nodded my head. In reality, I was going "Yeah, yeah, whatever." in my head. He said, as if he had sensed that, "That means no stopping for food, no getting off that road for anything, nothing. Not even to go to the bathroom. Point A to B to A, not C, D, or E. Clear?"

"Yes, I got it."

5 minutes later, I was on the road with every cent of $2.35 pumped into my tank. I got my friend 20 minutes (yep, I drove fast) after that. I told my friend about what my father said and we had better hurry back. We were back on the road and about halfway to home, he convinced me to take a quick detour to look at computer games. What's the harm as long as I got back home in one hour?

After taking a quick look-over at a store located on a road perpendicular to the road I was supposed to be on, we got in my car and got ready to exit...only to find that the road was jammed full of cars. This added to my anxiety considerably - waiting for the cross traffic to clear enough for me to get out of the parking lot meant that the safety margin would shrink exponentially.

After about two minutes of waiting, suddenly there was a clearing and I jumped for it. Made it! My friend and I celebrated and high-fived each other. (Sound of a car crashing into another) Oh, bleep. Our celebration was short-lived. I had hit a car, 100 yards from the road I was supposed to be on.

100 yards. A block. A football field.

The driver angrily motioned for me to pull into a restaurant's parking lot and I followed. All I could think about was how I was going to explain this to my fa...when the driver jumped out of the car with a rearview mirror in her hand and slammed the door on the Cadillac hard.

Funny how I noticed the rearview mirror in her hand right away. Not her face, not her build, not her age, not her fashion style...just the mirror. As she stomped her way up to me, I could see she was a young woman, about same age as me...pretty and a bit heavy on the makeup.

She started yelling at me, which made it impossible for me to understand so I calmly told her, "I'm deaf." She glared at me, turned around, and walked around my yell at my friend. I calmly said to her, "he is deaf too." and she threw her arms up and yelled in frustration before walking away from us. She went in her car and I noticed that there were 2 other young women in there. She got out and went into the restaurant.

All in the span of one minute. I took stock of the damage. My bumper was now pushed in and I could see the Cadillac's bumper was hanging a bit. I realized that I need to call my father. That's when one of the passengers came out and asked me if I go to that high school. I was stunned by not only that, but how easily I could understand her. I nodded at her and I asked how she knew that. She told me that she knew a girl there who has a deaf brother and she wondered if I was the same guy. I nodded again.

If you'll recall from my bully posts, I was the only deaf student there. Not hard to figure out. I was going to be a smart-aleck about it, but the young woman was very nice and pleasant. I was attracted to that. She asked if there was anything she could do for us and I remembered about my father. I asked her to call for me.

We chatted for a while (the driver got back in her car and never came out) and then my father showed up. Oh yeah. That look on his face. Readers, you KNOW exactly what I mean by that. Forget the Hulk. He had nothing on my father - I had to live with this one. He didn't say much to me. He didn't have to. I could feel it.

The young woman, after my dad left to talk to the driver and overheard my father ask the driver about contacting her parents, said "Oh boy, I don't want to be here when my friend's mother finds out." That's when I discovered that the driver was in bigger trouble than I was. No wonder why she was so livid and how she reacted to us.

She borrowed her mother's car...without permission and got busted for it due to my negligence. And my father? He asked me over and over and over for the next 6 months how much it cost to fix the Cadillac's bumper...and my bumper.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Story series - Holy bleep, I hit the Hulk!

June 3, 1985. That was the day I survived my encounter with the Hulk.

How could I forget that when I thought for sure that I would not live to see my birthday in 2 weeks?

I was the only junior with a driver's licence only because my mother decided to start me in 7th grade instead of 8th grade after I graduated from a school for the deaf. That made me a hot commodity with my friends and I was more than happy to drive them around because naively, I thought this was a good way to score chicks.

I was driving my friend Jack* home and I did a coasting stop (where you don't touch the pedals at all) behind a car at a red light on an upward slope of a hill...and braked...or so I thought. I made the classic blunder of not realizing which pedal I was pressing on.

(foot presses down, engine revs, *thunk!*)

The driver looked back at me through the rearview mirror and motioned with his hand, pointing at a convenience store. I held up my hand and nodded.

We pulled into the parking lot and the Hulk emerged. Not the green-skinned, barely clad pissed-off type. No. He was HUGE - not obese...but MUSCLED. In my testosterone-fuled mind, he looked to be 6 feet 6 inches tall with 250 pounds of muscles packed on his frame.

He finally arrived at my window, leaned down to look at me better, paused, and cocked his head a if I had stumped him...and he said, "Are you John*?"

I started thinking rapidly..."If I say yes, will he beat me up? If I say no, will he beat me up?"

Before I could answer the Hulk, my friend Jack* jumped in with an affirmation to my identity. I looked at Jack* in could he betray me?!? Before I could say something to my friend about getting his ride revoked permanently, I realized I still had the Hulk to deal with and I looked back at him.

Then...the Hulk inexplicably said, "Never mind. It's okay." and walked back to his car. Jack* and I looked at each other in disbelief. I looked at the Hulk's car uncomprehendingly, and then the car drove off. I looked back at Jack* and said, "What the bleep was that?!?" Jack* shrugged.

The mystery was solved 2 days later when I visited my dad. He casually asked me how my driving experience had been so far.

"Fine, still learning."
"Good. No problem with your car?"
"Other than the steering wheel shaking at 60 mph, no."
"Ah yeah. Any accident so far?"
I didn't want to tell him the truth - "Hm, no."
"You sure?"
That's when I got suspicious - "Come on, Dad. How did you know?"
He grinned and said, "You don't know who you hit two days ago?"

I told him that I didn't recognize the guy and my dad laughed.

"Dad, who was it? The driver was huge. Who?"
"You really didn't know who?"
"No! Tell me!"
"That was our neighbor's son, Larry*."

Now I know who the guy was could I when I was THIS CLOSE to peeing in my pants at the sight of the Hulk?

*Names changed to protect the inoccent parties. ;p

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bullying at home

Someone e-mailed me to ask this question - "Were you ever bullied at home? I would think you were. Is that too painful to discuss?"

No, not painful to discuss at all. I just talked about three instances of bullying at high school. Didn't talk about grade school (actually I did, you can read about it in my spitting war post) or my deaf school, let alone at home. Good question.

In Bully #2 post, I wrote about having been in fights. Most of the fights occurred near my house. The biggest one involved 3 boys jumping on me. As you will recall in Bully post #2, I made the leader pay by making the brick wall meet his head.

All of that paled in comparison to the kid who lived next door to me. I was a day older than him, but he had major issues - his mother left when he was a baby, he was 4th of 6 children, he had an older brother who was sadistic, his dad kept marrying his secretaries (his mom was one, his 1st stepmom was one, his 2nd stepmom was one, etc.), he got in fights with anyone and everyone, was held back in school twice before dropping out as a sophomore and he frequently stole things.

Took me a long time to figure out that he was friends with me only to take advantage of me. I didn't know better and I finally had enough of him when I was a junior. The breaking point happened that May when he cooked up some elaborate explanation about how he needed my car and how he would make a lot of money with my help.

After loading a full case of vodka bottles into the trunk of my car, he told me to drive to a certain location. I asked him how he got a whole case and he claimed that he took it from his father. I knew that his father doesn't drink vodka and I pressed him on that, but he stuck to his story.

After arriving at the destination, it dawned on me how he intended to make money with the case. We were at a prom party (this was BEFORE chaperones were commonplace in the mid 80's) and I felt sick to my stomach...he was trying to sell liquor to kids without regard to how they may or may not arrive home safely...or how the date may not turn out well while under the influence of alcohol.

Luckily for me, the night got cold and I managed to convince him that I would drive him back here after I went home to get my jacket. He had not sold any bottle yet and he went with me because he knew that I knew I was the getaway driver. He had no way of escaping if he stayed behind and got busted.

The moment I went into my house was the moment I told my mother what was going on. She immediately called his father and asked that we all meet in their living room. The son glared at me as we came in. She then told his father that there was a case of vodka in the trunk of my car and his own son was trying to sell them to the kids at the prom party.

His response? "I want to call the police and press charges on your son for trying to sell liquor."

My mother was shocked, but recovered quickly and said, "Want to bet whose fingerprints the police will find on the bottles? Want to bet what the witnesses will say who tried to sell them liquor? In fact, I wonder how YOUR son got a case of vodka. Hmm?"

The father just sat there.

Then he tried to blame me for putting ideas in his son's head. I was stunned by that. How could he say such things about me? I lived next door with the family for about 10 years and he said that? My mother explained to me afterward that he was in denial. He did not want to admit that his own son was so screwed up like that.

About 5-7 months later, he was arrested for burglary at an electronic store along with 2 other friends and not surprisingly, he made one of his friends the patsy by fingering him as the ringleader. After I found out about that, I went to the patsy and said, "I know you were not the ringleader." He felt better about that, but the look on his if this...whatever it was...would be permanently etched into his face...I didn't and still don't know exactly what his thought was at that moment.

Out of curiousity, I covertly checked out the son on Facebook 2 months ago...wasn't hard with an unusual last name like his. He didn't list any family (I was unable to locate his siblings), didn't seem to have kids, his status showed that he is not in a relationship, and has 2,000+ friends. He looks THIN and looks old (remember...I am just one day older than him). Pathetic.