Sunday, January 1, 2012

Deer in the Headlights

"YOU AMERICAN?" the MC asked me in front of a room full of celebrating Christmas diners. I stood there like a deer in the headlights waiting for the next move. Immersed in Deaf culture for the first time, I vaguely understood the question.

My first semester ASL instructor scurried up to the front to save me. They chatted. There was a signed explanation to the audience, then applause as my mind played catch-up in the event swirling around me. I was a beginner, just learning sign language, here to support the community. Or something like that.

I made my way back to my seat as my dinner partner smiled -- acknowledging my return to more familiar ground. I looked in the envelope with the door prize I had been given and glanced quickly at the pizza coupon inside. "Oh, it's Canadian", I thought to myself, still pondering the earlier query about my cultural affiliation.