There’s something to be said about the occasional booze fueled jaunt across campus, weaving in and out among the students and screaming lyrics as they come into your head, but all I will say is that you really don’t need booze to enjoy this kind of jaunt.
Talking to oneself has the special merit of keeping yaboes from talking to you. Some people learn from experience, but strangers don’t know you as well as “friends” or “family” and may want to chat about all sorts of interesting topics like the weather or Jesus Christ Home Channel Edition. The Christ-Masters hang around the streets usually and they are always helpfully handing out orange pocket Bibles and saying things like, “Have you heard of Jesus?” Away from the street are the other helpful bunch, sometimes the Army sometimes the Marines, facilitating every American’s right to kill and be killed by Iraqis. “How are you doing today?” they’ll ask. I sometimes think they regret it when my full attention turns on them and they see my eyes pin-wheeling in my head from lack of sleep and whatever tune happens to be falling through my head.
“FINE!” I might scream if I’m feeling festive. “Bone dry!” if I’m not. What’s cool about these guys is that they give away free water bottles and will stand there and listen as you ramble on about how David Petraeus is the best general the country ever had based on how cool the guy’s name is. “Just say it,” I’ll tell them. “Pe-tra-us.” Sometimes I can get the entire booth chanting “Pe-tra-us.” Sounds cool, gets looks from the passing students.
But sometimes I just don’t feel like talking to either of these groups. I’ve already got enough Bibles, six or seven, not counting the Books of Mormon, Bhagavad Gitas, and Qurans I have floating about. And how many bottles with US Army stars do I need? Maybe they should start handing out baseball caps or something.
The simplest way to generate an uncomfortable silence with anybody who comes up to ask you a question is to pretend like you don’t understand what they are saying. This is compounded when you can’t even hear what they are saying.
“How’s it going?” the military kid asks me as I head into the Student Union Building.
I turn and look at the table spread out with pamphlets and water bottles, give a amiable nod, strike an amenable posture, and then sign “?WHAT THIS ALL IS?”
The military kid looks around for help and not finding any says, “I’m sorry I don’t know sign language.”
“OH THAT O-K ?YOU FROM M-I-L-I-T-A-R-Y?”
“I have some… uh…” gesturing at the table.
“O-K GOOD. I WORRY WAS YOU NOT WOULD HAVE PAPER TO READ ?YES?”
Trying to mime the sign READ: “Um… pamphlet?” he points at the pamphlets. “Does this mean pamphlet?”
At this point most will begin to raise their voice and the kid doesn’t disappoint me.
“Pamphlet?” he asks leaning forward.
“SORRY,” I sign. “I CANNOT HEAR WHAT YOU ARE SAYING!”
“I don’t… I.. don’t…”
“?WHAT YOU DON’T? I CANNOT HEAR YOU.”
I’m pretty sure the military doesn’t recruit deaf people.
“Do you know about Jesus?”
“?YOU ARE WHO?”
“Umm… Jesus?” brandishes Bible. “You know about Je-sus?”
“OH YEAH. JESUS. ?WHAT ABOUT JESUS?”
“YES I KNOW JESUS. ?YOU KNOW JESUS?”
“We’re… well we’re… trying to spread the Good News today and…”
“?WHAT?” WHAT is a good one because it’s instantly recognizable as sign language to most people. IS is another good one. I try to use both often.
“Uh, the Good News. The Go-od New-es.”
“SORRY I DO NOT READ LIPS.”
“The… Bible?” questioning look.
“NO READ LIPS! ?WHAT DO NOT YOU UNDERSTAND?”
I’m pretty sure Jesus doesn’t recruit deaf people.
Time wasting isn’t the only thing a healthy diet of ASL can bring. At a local market:
“Do you have a ticket?”
“SORRY I DO NOT UNDERSTAND.”
Incredulous look. “Okay. Um. What cut of beef do you want?”
“THAT,” (simple point).
I think my quality of life has gone up. I no longer have to wait in lines, I no longer have to talk to anybody, I can impress my friends and neighbors by getting free stuff. It’s awesome.
At the movies:
“SORRY ?THIS WHERE LINE BEGINS?”
“NO. GET BACK TO BEGINNING LIKE THEY ALL.”