I don't know why these kind of things always seem to happen to me. I was sitting at home and getting ready to watch a baseball game and my wife walks in the house with a couple of friends, all carrying bags. I didn't think much of it because Sonia, my wife is an avid thrift shopper. What worried me was her sweet demeanor, as if she was going to ask a favor.
I thought to myself, "Now she KNOWS I have a cold beer and I'm in my favorite chair and she KNOWS the Rangers are playing tonight" and then I hear it...
You see, the trick to get your husband to do anything is to ask him in front of the girlfriends. I mean, no guy wants to be "That Guy" who says no. Right?
"Brrrrandon?? Can you come out back real quick?" Sigh... I leave my chair but bring my beer.
This is my tale of the very first – and last – Brazilian "Deaf" Wax.
On my back porch stood 3 ladies all in their ratty "art-making" clothes, looking at me as if I were the canvas.
"Wait a minute!" I explained, "I don't know what you ladies got going on, but my plans are set for the night."
Indeed they were. To my left a tub of Vaseline, to my right a mound of plaster gauze. Shaking my head, I knew this was about to get messy.
The project was simple, just come up with some kind of theme for Sonia's art sculpture class. Somehow the image of Brandon, a body cast and sign language came to Sonia's mind. Knowing it was going to be a hard sell, she requested the help of some lovely assistants to swab me down with Vaseline.
If you've never experienced a Vaseline rub down, it can only be described as... Pfffphhhtttt, exactly as it feels. The necessity of the Vaseline became apparent as the ladies realized they hadn't bought enough to cover my manly frame. So they huddled and came to the scientific conclusion that "x" amount of Vaseline multiplied by "y" surface area was sufficient for the job. It was a fool-proof plan.
The theme was "Deaf Pride" and the pose required me to stand still, while covered in Vaseline, with swarms of mosquitoes chewing on bits of exposed skin. It was a joyous 4 hours of being wrapped in a body cast, one wet, cold, slimy piece of gauze at a time. Holes had to be poked around my nose so I could breathe and when my face was covered I could only see blackness. It was as if I was being buried alive and unable to move. The 3 ladies rushed as fast as they could to finish the cast while I moaned in my body casket, squishing the thick Vaseline with every breath.
Then I heard the words I was yearning for: "We're done!" said Sonia. Then my heart sank, "We need to let it dry for an hour."
Frozen in a body cast while locked in the signing pose of "Deaf Pride" really gets a person thinking.... "How in the heck are they going get this off me?" and "This Vaseline better wash out of my hair or someone is gonna pay!"
At last, after an hour of listening to the lady and her lovely assistants sip on their celebratory glasses of wine while laughing at how funny I look, they snipped away the cast that bound me.
"OUUUCH! HEY, take it easy!" I yelled while the cast ripped away every bit of hair on my arm.
As I mentioned, these lovely scientists had calculated that there was enough Vaseline to cover my body and for some reason, I believed them. It was then discovered that my body mass to Vaseline ratio was way off, (a sentence that I might never use again in this lifetime) and my arms were going to suffer.
A few days later, I went out with a buddy of mine and he looked at me puzzled, "Brandon, do you shave your arms?" With a straight face I shook my head and replied, "No, I wax them."
Just like Dolly the sheep, there will be a day in the future when humans are cloned for whatever reason and I take comfort in knowing that my body cast will be a prime specimen for extracting hair DNA. Really, the inside of the cast looked like the nesting grounds of an ancient wooly mammoth.
Our neighbors came by to check on us as they had heard the screaming sounds of the extinct hairy beast. Armed with spears and rocks, they instead discovered a man in a body cast, unable to move and dripping with Vaseline.
"There goes the neighborhood!" I'm sure they uttered under their breath.
At that point, there was nothing more that could have been done. The cast had to be pulled off. The laughing pains turned into moans and the moan became annoyed yelps, then from yelps it quickly escalated to yells and then it became a series of unfortunate words directed at the lovely ladies who had every reason to worry for their safety. At last, my hair was removed along with the cast.
Was I upset about my new Brazilian "Deaf" Wax? You betcha! It was a solid week before my hair was able to blow in the wind. I had to wrap a garbage bag around my pillow because Sonia was upset at me for leaving grease stains. Image that!
The cast turned out very well and Sonia received an "A" for her project. My body double was then donated to the Kentucky Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and displayed in their office.
"Wow, it looks just like you" a KCDHH staff member jokingly said to me as I positioned the masterpiece on the wall.
"Brandon, do you shave your arms?
3 Bridges Sign Language Services
Love you Mom... Thumbs up Dad
It never dawned on me that having deaf parents was anything special. I never hid the fact that my parents couldn't hear but I didn't openly discuss it with my friends. In fact, most of my classmates growing up had no idea I used another language when I went home. My teachers would be cast into the awkward position of meeting my folks for the first time, not knowing how to communicate with a deaf person. Then they would always seem to apologize for the awkwardness and they would sit shocked, watching me or my sister interpret the meeting. Parent/Teacher night always proved to be entertaining.
The other day, I was listening to the radio while driving to an assignment and I heard a comedian introduced as a funny guy who had deaf parents. He was a CODA, (Child of Deaf Adults) and the announcer went on with a hint of curiosity and mild excitement as he questioned the guy about this odd concept. "Wow, what was that like?", and "So you know sign language, cool" It got me thinking, maybe it is pretty cool after all. Frankly, I am so used to the concept of having deaf parents that it has always been normal but its easy to forgot that my normal is miles away from average.
It was GREAT having deaf parents! Really, I would recommend it to anyone "shopping" the idea around. Not only do you get to learn a cool language with your hands or be apart of some fascinating culture, you get to be as loud as you want! Granted, the luster of being loud diminishes as we get older. At 16, the last thing I wanted was to draw attention to myself but at age 7, I was yelling, "THUNDER CATS, THUNDER CATS, HOOOOOO!!!" at any and every public outing. I never got in trouble, my father never told me to be quiet, and in my mind I was free to be a Thunder Cat! It makes sense now looking back, my sister never liked being seen with me in public... Sigh, hearing people.
I was in 8th grade when that new Snoop Dogg album came out! I was so excited and had my Mother take me to the mall to buy the new cassette tape, (folks born in the 90's, Cassettes was pre CD and post 8-Track). Let me tell you, I was the coolest kid on the planet. The whole school could hear us coming a block away, my Mom driving me to school blasting some S-N-OO-P, D-O-GG-Y, D-O-GG, you see! Windows rolled down in that 1985 Chrysler 5th Avenue and she would drop me off right at the front steps! Some days, I would just leave the music on and let her drive away. I always wondered about the looks she would get in that small Texas town. My friends would come up to me and say, "Man, your mom is awesome!!" I know, she was pretty cool and she didn't even know it. Sorry Mom
Although I never really identified myself as a CODA, they actually have meetings at local, state, and national levels for gatherings to discuss all things pertaining to children of deaf adults. It really is a special group of folks that by birth are thrust into two cultures and at a young age are required to interpret between them. What is normal? I didn't think it was odd when my father required us to watch television without sound for a couple of hours a day. We weren't allowed to use our voice at dinner and all family discussions were by hands only! Punishments usually included reading some kind of deaf history book from my father's massive library and then writing a book report before all was forgiven. Needless to say, I quickly became an expert on Laurent Clerc, (If you don't know of him, you didn't have deaf parents). Am I normal? No. Are my parents methods of punishment normal? No. But it has given me a deep respect for the culture and language that I share with my family, deaf Americans, and other CODAs.
When I look back at my upbringing, I have come to the conclusion that being different has taught me to be more understanding. I was raised in two worlds, one hearing and one deaf. They both gave me perspective and an appreciation for what I have and who I am. So I might not have realized it before but yeah, being a CODA is pretty cool... But as I learned from the Johnny Cash song, "A Boy Named Sue" down the road when my son gets in trouble, I think I'll have him read.... A FICTION, A BIOGRAPHY, A SELF HELP! Anything but Laurent Clerc!!
3 Bridges Sign Language Services
I would like to welcome every one to please check out our new website at www.3bridgesaustin.com. There is also a very informative PAGE that goes into great detail about the legacy of my Grandfather, Lloyd Bridges and my Uncle, Jim Scoggins. It is the history of the establishment of the Texas Commission for the Deaf and the roles that Lloyd and Jim played in the creation. If you have the time, give it a read.
We are very excited about our new website and Facebook page so please give us a like and give us a boost! You will also find information about an upcoming workshop in Austin, Texas on November 17, 2012. Dr. Byron Bridges will be presenting, "ASL Deconstructed" for those that are wanting to improve their signing skills. You can register HERE and come join us as we Deconstruct ASL.
Thank you all for your support as we continue to grow and serve Central Texas. It has been our honor to work with our Deaf Community in providing outstanding interpreting! Please contact us with any questions or comments that you may have. This will be the first of many "BLOGS" so follow if you have the time and I will do my best to keep it interesting!
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2028 E. Ben White Blvd. Suite 240-1233
Austin, TX 78741
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