A tired professor who is obviously not blank stares at a dejected group of uninterested students. ASL Interpretation mainly consists of students looking up stupid and pointless sentences and signing them awkwardly, complete with articles and everything. Of course, flow, technique, and emotion are all too much to ask for.
"Who actually worked on signing their song?" The professor asks, scraping a handful of dirty blonde hair back. She often talks and signs English at the same time.
I raise my hand, expecting everyone to have done this. It was supposed to be fun--pick any school-appropriate song, gloss it, and sign for the class. Easy, right? Apparently not.
Mrs. Banks, the teacher, looks at me in relief. Sometimes she'll sign exasperated jokes about the students to me. We have some sort of fluent-people bond. "Ah, John. Thank goodness. Actually, I want to show the class an experiment with you." She beckons me forward with a short and stubby finger. I meander toward the front, able to see the the complete top of her head when standing next to her. She can't be more than five feet tall. What could this teacher possibly have me do for these miscreants?
"Who has a song for him to sign on the spot? Preferably something everyone will know," she instructs.
Someone mentions a top forty song that would make her ears bleed. But I just nod and wait patiently as Mrs. Banks takes an eternity to pull the lyrics up.
"John?" I had them use the sign for "music" with my name because no one else gets the pleasure of initialing my name with the word "girl" anymore. "Can you gloss and sign this right now without ever looking at it?" Her face already tells me that she knows I can.
I've heard this song a few times and I know it has a really quick rapping part. Oh, well.
I skim the lyrics before turning around to face twenty bored faces. Some girl in the front row leans over to whisper to her neighbor; although, the words, "What a waste on a blank. Why can't normal guys ever look like that?" The girl next to her nods in agreement, glancing mournfully at me. Since when did that happen? Sure, I kept up in the gym on campus just so my stress doesn't devour me alive. But exercise can't help a face. Especially when you're a guy and can't cheat with things like makeup.
Mrs. Banks starts the music before I have much of a chance to react to those weird college girls commentary on me. Signing the basic phrases about girls, being rich, and living large isn't hard. It's not difficult to keep up with the song or remember the lyrics. What's hard about it is knowing that if I were at home, we would be making fun of this exact chart-topper right now. She wouldn't even have to hear it to know that it's a waste of space.
I'm not even thinking about what I'm doing and a surreal sort wave hits me when there's no more to translate. But what I'm not expecting is for the pretentious-looking girl to call me out, to raise her hand. Even from the front of the classroom I can see her dark brown hair thrown into a messy bun, oversized glasses, and a weird coffee mug from London on her desk.
Mrs. Banks motions for her to stand up, but her eyes remain locked on me in skepticism. I also don't expect her to break out in near-perfect ASL. "I thought that ASL is 70% facials, especially if you're conveying the message of a song to someone who cannot hear it. John--is that your name?" The look on her face tells me that she knows my name but doesn't want me to flatter myself because she remembers it. "John," she continues, "he looked pained. Nostalgic. Removed and bored out of his skull. If I'm thinking correctly--and I'm pretty certain that I am--that is not what the song wanted to be conveyed."
Mrs. Banks raises her eyebrows and purses her lips, looking at me for a response.
So I respond. "Look. I know you're oh-so-smart and more than happy to share your knowledge with the class, but don't fingerspell big words. Use the signs that were created for a reason. If you want to sound pretentious, please write me a letter criticizing my signing and I would be happy to reconsider." I flash her a spiteful smile and head back to my desk without allowing her a reply.
YOU ARE READING
Skin Deep (Featured - Completed)Teen Fiction
John is blank in a world where everything anyone says appears on their skin. They're held accountable for every secret, every demand, every sacrifice scrawled across their foreheads in bold black letters. He grew up in an insane asylum and had acc...