November 8th, 2010

Interesting words

"From a bubbling lava, from the vague pulp of a star, from a living cell miraculously fertilized, we have issued forth and have raised ourselves to the writing of catatas and the weighing of nebulae."
Antoine de St. Exupery

136 - Eerie silence

Last night I was reminded of something very strange that happened years ago. While I was having coffee, several people were signing a conversation in ASL, and that side of the table was very quiet, unlike the rest of Starbuck's. That brought back a Twilight Zone moment.

Probably thirty years ago, I was driving home to Seattle and ended up having breakfast in Coer d'Alene. I went to a Denny's and ordered the usual. The place was full of people eating. It didn't take long before I realized that the only sound in the restaurant was the tinkle and clicking of forks and knives. It was amazingly strange. I saw people interacting, laughing, chuckling. But not a sound. It turned out that everyone but I was at a convention of deaf people whose main means of interacting was ASL. When the waitress and I talked about it we both felt as though we had farted loudly in church.

I found it fascinating and disturbing at the same time. Only the waitresses and I spoke openly. All the other customers were happily in their own worlds, and their world that day included Denny's. I was the outsider, the person who could not interact with the general population.

I seldom think of that morning these days, but it is as vivid as ever.