Deaf-Centered Topics

Snapshot: Coffee

When I wait in line at the coffeehouse (or anywhere else, really) and there’s a bunch of people chatting in front of me and laughing and sometimes horsing around, I wonder just what it is that they’re saying. The usual response I’ll get from someone who is hearing is that these conversations that they overhear—or even participate in—are usually unimportant or uninteresting. But this is an unfair way to write off what might actually be valuable to me. To know what is being said, even all the ridiculous and potentially stupid stuff, is to be exposed to the thoughts and ideas and observations of people that I would otherwise not know. And as a writer, I would benefit. As a human being, I would feel added connections to the world around me.

So I miss out, regardless of what you might think of these things you hear. It’s not so much that I want to actually always hear what’s being said, I just want to know. I’d love to be that skilled of a lipreader. Or I’d love to have glasses that caption the world for me. And sometimes, yes, I do want to hear it. It just don’t want to all the time. I think sometimes in the community we think we have to be THIS or THAT. We have to see things one way or it’s opposite. We have to want to be completely deaf and never hear or be completely hearing or always hear. I am not one or the other. I am a person who doesn’t mind being deaf most of the time because that’s who I am, but who sometimes would like to hear.

I went off on a tangent here. I meant what I said, though. I don’t want it always. I’d be content to be a skilled lipreader. While I’d also love if the world signed, opening up communication for us all, I don’t see that as ever being likely no matter how much I’d want it.

For now, I’ll wait in line and wonder. And get my coffee next, sit down, and drink.

J. Parrish Lewis was born and raised in Maryland. In his youth there, he and his brother had many adventures in the dogwood forests near his home. His nostalgia for these adventures has strongly influenced his characters, their relationships, and their perspective on the world they inhabit. He moved to California’s coast to earn his degree in communications and now lives with his family in the San Joaquin Valley. Lewis is profoundly deaf and uses American Sign Language to communicate. He enjoys hazelnut coffee, captioned movies, and walking his dog.

2 Comments

  • elaine

    Their conversation may not make sense. I would rather read an article online, write a poem as I see the surroundings, or have a friend along. Lipreading is out since interpreting services become more possible and rewarding. I could not complain we get ahead with new technologies.

  • Robert Lewis

    Whereas I usually try to tune out these conversations because they are so inane, I think I’ll have a new way of hearing them now. As you said, you just want to know and the knowing does create some kind of connection. We spend much of our action and words just working our way through the day being as light as we can. That’s what all those inline conversations are. Fluff. Comfort. The acknowledgement that the other person “gets” what you are going through. There is nothing wrong with this. Sometimes it is just the right, comforting thing. Sometimes you just want to tune it out. Certainly, and in any case, there is no one else in the world who has a right to tell you whether you should hear or not.

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