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?
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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.
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