Thursday, August 19, 2010

Theme Thursday : I Brush My Teeth With A Tooth Brush


I know I am late for Theme Thursday but it is a tale worth telling. And it is a true tale. Some 25 years ago what had, until then, been a gradual hearing loss suddenly accelerated and within a comparatively short period of time I became more or less totally deaf. Whilst I could still just about hear myself - and believe me, this is by far the most useful function of hearing - I was unable to hear anyone else. It was a traumatic time, not just for me but for all those who were close to me. It was quickly decided - by my unofficial support committee made up of concerned relatives, friends and medical advisers - that I should learn to lip-read as a matter of priority and as soon as I had mastered this simple skill move on to sign language. The one problem with this splendid course of therapy was that I was completely incapable of learning even the rudimentary principles of lip-reading, never mind the more complex rules of sign language. My objections were swiftly swept aside and I was enrolled into a lip-reading class at the local college.

The instructor was a rather sweet middle aged lady who had taken up good works to fill the somewhat dark winter afternoons that characterised Sheffield in the 1980s. Her class was made up of rather sweet middle aged ladies who had taken up the mantle of education in order to carry out good works at some stage in the future. And then there was me. I was the only man in the group, the only person under the age of forty, the only person who could not master the basic principles of lip-reading, and, interestingly enough, the only person who was deaf (why the others had gone to lip-reading classes I never managed to discover). I would sit at the back of the class, with a permanent look of embarrassed perplexity, and daydream about pints of beer and similar stuff. Meanwhile the rest of the class would do exercises.

The exercises comprised of the teacher choosing a common theme or subject which she would announce to the class (you can see how the ability to hear was a distinct advantage in the learning process). She would then silently mouth a series of phrases and, where appropriate make little actions to provide an extra clue to their meaning. She would point to a member of the class and they would have to say out loud what the particular phrase was (again you get an idea of the value of being able to hear). I would try to keep up with what was happening and desperately hope that the dreaded finger would not point in my direction. 

On the day in question the chosen theme was announced (to this day I am not sure what it was) and the first phrase was mouthed with all the flourish of a Shakespearean actress. The accompanying actions (a finger pushed along the front of the teeth) meant that even I worked out the phrase. The finger pointed towards a little lady on the front row who always seemed to be knitting during the lessons and had the remarkable ability to knit one, pearl one and lip-read one at the same time. "I brush my teeth with a tooth brush" she must have said because the teacher smiled and gave a cute little clap of her hands. She then started to run her fingers through her hair and mouthed out what was obviously "I brush my hair with a hair brush". This time the finger was directed at a shy lady who rarely spoke except to provide the word perfect answer at the prompt of the pointing finger. The third phrase was more problematic and was accompanied by a rather delicate brushing motion and a look of deep satisfaction on her face. 

The dreaded finger swept around to me and I desperately tried to match up the actions with the few mouth shapes I had managed to recognise. As the entire class stared in my direction I tried to find a solution to the puzzle before me. And then I had it. It was so simple once I had made the breakthrough. It was obvious. In a loud and slightly triumphal voice I shouted out "I brush my thighs with a pastry brush". 

I never attended the class again. It was the straw that broke the camels back. To this day, whenever I see anyone with a pastry brush, brushing milk or egg-white onto their freshly made pies I think of that poor lady and the shock on her face when I made that particular accusation about her private life. 

For other excellent Theme Thursday posts please visit the Theme Thursday Blog.

30 comments:

  1. Just to prove late IS better than never, I came to see your offer! Great story, Alan. Did you make it up or is it your experience? Either way, well done. Except if you are deaf, you obviously have focused on your many other talents. Bravo.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It is indeed true Francisca. The full story of my deafness (and my journey out of deafness) can be found at :
    http://newsfromnowhere1948.blogspot.com/2009/07/into-void.html

    ReplyDelete
  3. If you want to follow the story of my deafness the other three parts can be found at ;
    Part Two : http://newsfromnowhere1948.blogspot.com/2009/07/into-void-part-2-void.html
    Part Three : http://newsfromnowhere1948.blogspot.com/2009/07/into-void-part-3-experimentation.html
    And the Final Part :
    http://newsfromnowhere1948.blogspot.com/2009/07/into-void-part-4-into-my-head.html

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you, Alan. I will come back to read them. Of course you have me curious with the "out of deafness" part. Now it is my pillow time here. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh Alan, I can laugh entirely in sympathy as a fellow sufferer. If we don't laugh at ourselves there's no hope! My best lipreading malfunction (to date) was when I thought my then partner was asking me if I wanted my breasts ironing...! "No, honey... dress...D-R-E-S-S !"

    ReplyDelete
  6. Heh, heh! Yeah, I can see why you might not ever want to attend that class again. Did you ever find out what she was really trying to say?

    ReplyDelete
  7. But what if you had inadvertently hit upon the truth, Alan? Hmmm

    ReplyDelete
  8. alan you have me in tears...i brush my thighs...lol....oh my. smiles. happy tt friend!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Roy : I discovered later that what she had said was "I brush my PIES with a pastry brush" (or at least that is what she claims she said)

    ReplyDelete
  10. hilarious, you couldn't make it up.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This coming Thanksgiving, when I baste the turkey, I will think of you Alan, and say "I brush my thighs with a pastry brush".

    Thanks for the giggles. What a great story.

    ReplyDelete
  12. it is true everything is better with butter - even thighs!

    thanks for the tickle

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks for this post; I can laugh now but it doesn't sound as though it was great for you just then. What I am curious about is why the ladies were in the class - where they predicting their own deafness do you think or in the case of one lady, it was somewhere to do her knitting in the company of others.

    ReplyDelete
  14. It's a wonderful, funny tale! I bet you have never looked at a pastry brush the same way again!

    I love your story..in fact, you were telling it back when I first found your blog!

    ReplyDelete
  15. think i can never ever look again at a pastry brush and not thinking of your story...enjoyed it!

    ReplyDelete
  16. That is awesome! Well, the thighs and the pastry brush part.

    Hmm... I think you may have inspired a story. Hope you don't mind.

    HAH! Check out this word verification:

    vocrob
    the theft of words

    ReplyDelete
  17. Jeff : Mind, I'm flattered.

    ReplyDelete
  18. hahaha... thanks for the laugh... your tale is hilarious, specially because it has really happened!

    Thanks for sharing it with us, it suits perfectly this Thursday theme.

    loveNlight
    Gabi

    ReplyDelete
  19. Could it be that the hearing aspirant lip readers were from MI6?

    ReplyDelete
  20. Oh . . my .. . God . . I'm going to read this to Jeff in a Yorkshire accent because it's fucking hilarious. Sorry but I've just got home from work and almost fell off my chair laughing I can imaging you in your sitting room re-telling this. I remember you posting about your deafness. Terrible thing but you retell it with such humour. Funny, funny man. Your word capture is 'worifies' which also sounds awesome in a Yorkshire accent.

    ReplyDelete
  21. It Could Have Been Worse.......you could have wandered into a Cookery Class by mistake.......

    ReplyDelete
  22. Alan, I laughed out loud, which I rarely do! ... mouthed with all the flourish of a Shakespearean actress.... they DO that!!!
    I am dearly sorry for the humiliation, but the retelling was a hoot. (or, do you sat wheeze?) -J

    ReplyDelete
  23. I wish I could have seen THAT. So hilarious. The teacher must have been a complete idiot.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Amazing, entertaining story! What a delight; it brightened my day immensely.

    My TT post is here.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hi Alan,
    Your post is hilarious. I am ddeaf with no hearing in my right ear and less than 50% in the left. I went lip reading class about 20 years. I don't think i learned much either. 2005 i learned sign language as i vounteered for the deaf olympics. I have almost lost the art of sig language as you need to be doing it all the time to keep up with it.
    Anyway i have had some funny things my family have said and misheard. I will look up your original posts.

    ReplyDelete
  26. hi alan,
    this is a great story, i read all the posts about your deafness and implant. it's fantastic that you regained your hearing, or at least enough to function better.

    as for your lip reading, pies looks different to thighs so i suspect you might just have been trying to make the class more interesting ;)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Alan, I laughed at this post but I felt like I should be crying, too, at the sadness of your situation.

    I read the other posts about your deafness and the cochlear implant. We have a friend who does implants and other friends who have received them. I was left wondering how you adjusted to the implant.

    ReplyDelete
  28. As you were saying about selective hearing in your previous post Void I remembered how i tried to use selective hearing. I am employed as a cleaner in an aged care hostel. One of the residents always complained about how i did things. One day i thought i'm not going to listen to her today. She was going on as usual about things and the staff not giving her a hot enough wheat bag for her back. So went on doing my work when she said "You really must get a better hearing aid dear" So that idea had back fired.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Is it really happen that you brush your teeth with such a big paint brush. This is unbelievable.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hopped over here from jeffscape. Great story. You seem to be able to handle the difficulties of life with charm. Was it ok that I was laughing my ass off? I'll be sure to grab my pastry brush next time...never mind.

    ReplyDelete