10:58 a.m. - January 05, 2003
It's okay for me to say this because tomorrow I'm a linguist again! Tomorrow morning I am moving a few books (a few! ha) back into my allotted space and will have lunch with my advisor and his wife, likely talking about his research, where I left off on mine - his pet interest and the (sole?) reason why I'm his pet as well - wait, do you know what my research is? I'm studying the acquisition of language by adolescents and adults from both a cognitive science (the basic how of the brain's language-learning equation, involving hard-wiring and specialized functions within the brain) and second-language learning perspective, which permits me to work on my own specialty (acquisition of a visual/spatial language) while searching for the key that would assist second-language learners to more readily acquire language, whether spoken or signed (think strategic and commercial value). I'm excited but not idealistic; I do not want to stay here for another three years but frankly, I needed something to fill my time.
So last night read late and watched Lord of the Rings on that DVD thing I got for Christmas and subsequently fell asleep late, only to be woken by the doorbell ping ping ping pinging and then the sound of the side gate opening, enough to make me wonder Who the hell is in my backyard? It was my father and his Lady Friend on an Important Matter regarding my sister and her boyfriend (The Great Idiot), who, now that they are on five years together, have everybody scratching their heads wondering When? My father's Important Matter was to ask me what he could do to encourage the Great Idiot to learn ASL since the Idiot has shown zero interest and even less aptitude since he thinks the sign for Hello is a military salute. A tough one, that, because as my father said, the Idiot (my father doesn't refer him as such) cannot communicate with the rest of the family excepting my sister, brother, and myself and that is a Shame.
I didn't know what to say. I couldn't explain that the Idiot views deafness as something distasteful and worries that my sister will bear Deaf children, how he just doesn't get it, blissfully unaware that in our family he's the odd one out, nobody else. My father said All your girlfriends could sign and Jeff's girlfriends could sign, and Lisa's old boyfriends could sign but not her fiance, the one who's been around so often there is no excuse. My sister is aware of my father's concern and I've heard her (a) encourage and (b) lambast him, how he still can't sign How are you; but he's the Great Idiot, someone who thinks the middle finger is the sign for fuck (please. You have to distinguish between the verb, the noun, the adjective and then the case as well, and this is more complicated than a single finger) and who also thinks the urban legend This is the ASL sign for bullshit is accurate when it's simply an inside joke to make hearing people look foolish and look foolish he does.
So I advised my father to become agressive, to do something with himself and the Great Idiot where communication cannot be avoided, which I pictured as a ropes course over a canyon (heee) and not what my father had in mind and subsequently announced: He's taking the Lady Friend, my sister, and the Great Idiot on a Deaf-only Carribbean cruise and Thank you very much for my input, That should do it.
Uh, what about me? And he said You already know how to sign.
Yes, I agree. I need a gun.