The Secret Deafie is a series of anonymous columns written by different writers. Our sixth contributor tells us about an uncomfortable chat-up attempt in a cafe…
One thing I sometimes get from non-deaf men is disbelief that I’m deaf.
In my pre-children, non-motherhood days it used to happen at the pub, now sometimes it happens at informal business meetings. Or, as it recently did, in a coffee shop.
I was in between meetings, waiting at a coffee shop to check on my emails, when the guy at the next table started chatting to me. When this happens, it’s usually a funny quip that I mishear, so I replied: “Sorry, I am severely deaf, I didn’t hear that.”
His reaction to that is a wide-eyed look on his face. “Really?” He said. “But you don’t seem…er… I couldn’t tell!”
“Well, I don’t want to wear a badge to warn people!” I replied. “If you speak clearly and let me lip-read, I’m fine”. I tried to smile to mask my irritation.
He had a wispy goatee beard that forced me to focus hard on his mouth in order to make sense of what he was saying.
“You lip-read? Really? Oh yes, I notice that now.”
So I smiled politely and turned back to my coffee and my laptop. Then I realised that he was still talking to me.
“I said, it’s fascinating that you lip-read, the fact that you’re looking at my lips … it makes me feel sexy.” He smiled widely, his eyes glinting.
“ Er… well, I don’t mean to make you feel sexy, well if you do, good for you… “
He raised an eyebrow. “You don’t mind making me feel sexy?”
“I have to lip-read otherwise I won’t understand a word you’re saying,” I said.
“No… I can’t believe that you’re deaf, you don’t sound deaf,” he said. “There you go… you’re staring at my lips again. You fancy me really, don’t you?”
“Er, no, sorry,” I said. “I don’t mean to be rude but I’m looking at your lips so I can lip-read what you are saying. I don’t think my husband would be impressed by this conversation.”
“But you can’t be married as well!” His face dropped.
“Why not? I am.” I say, raising my left hand to show him my wedding ring.
“Is your husband deaf too?” He asked, suspiciously.
“By coincidence he is, we didn’t seek out deaf people, it just happened.”
“Will your children be deaf then?!” He asks.
I was unsure if I was hearing correctly. “My children are not deaf… I have two and they are hearing.”
“You’re making this up,” he said. “I can take a hint if you’re not interested. There is no need to make stuff up”. He looked comically angry now.
“But I didn’t start this conversation!” I reply.
He got up, giving me a dirty look. “Yes, you did, making me feel sorry for you, telling me that you’re deaf. Very clever! You kept looking at me, and you said you don’t mind making me feel sexy. You were leading me on. Then you make up that not only are you deaf, you’re also married to a deaf man and funnily enough, have non-deaf children. As if! You’re not even using sign language!!! I’m not stupid!”
He then mouthed “Good bye!” and walked out in a strop, hitting a few chairs on the way. Everyone turned to look at him.
I just sat there, taking it all in. Relieved that he’d gone, I started giggling to myself.
Now, I thought. What’s the email address for that Limping Chicken website?
Do you have a story or experience you’d like to share? If you’d like to write a Secret Deafie column, just email email@example.com uk deaf news british deaf news website uk deaf news uk deaf news uk deaf news
The Limping Chicken is the UK’s deaf blogs and news website, and is the world’s most popular deaf blog. It is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
Please note that the views of the writers are their own, and not necessarily the views of the Editor or site as a whole. Read our disclaimer here.
- Phonak: innovative technology and products in hearing acoustics
- Ai-Media: Remote captioning. 5 tips for travelling with hearing loss!
- Bellman & Symfon: home alerting solutions
- Deaf Umbrella: sign language interpreting and communications support
- Clarion: BSL/English interpreting and employment services
- Appa: Communication services for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people
- Signature: Find out about the Signature conference here.
- SignVideo: Instant BSL video interpreting online
- 121 Captions: captioning and speech-to-text services
- Hearing Direct: Online hearing aids
- The National Theatre: Captioned and BSL accessible theatre in London
- Doncaster School for the Deaf: education for Deaf children
- SignLive: Online video interpreting for Deaf people
- Royal School for the Deaf, Derby: Residential education for deaf children
- RAD Tax Advice: Tax and Tax Credit info for Deaf people
- Deaf Independent: Deaf care and support services
- Signworld: online BSL learning and teaching materials
- Performance Interpreting: BSL interpreting at concerts
- National Deaf Children's Society: The leading charity for deaf children
- DCAL: Find out how to study at the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre, London
- cSeeker: Deaf-led educational communication support service
- Signed Culture: Advocating for BSL access to arts and culture
- Sarah Gatford: BSL interpreting, training and consultancy
- SignHealth: healthcare charity for Deaf people
- CJ Interpreting: communication support in BSL
- Sign Solutions:, language and learning
- Action Deafness Communications: sign language and Red Dot online video interpreting
- BSLcourses.co.uk: Provider of online BSL courses
- British Society for Mental Health and Deafness: Promoting positive mental health for deaf people
- deafPLUS: Money advice line in BSL
- Hamilton Lodge School in Brighton: education for Deaf children
- Lipspeaker UK: specialist lipspeaking support
- Ozen: Australian hearing aid specialists
- Elmfield School, Bristol: Inclusive education for Deaf pupils
- Exeter Deaf Academy: education for Deaf children