When I was 15 years old, my parents sent me to my aunt and uncle’s house in Florida to spend a week with them in their condo. They had used to live in New Jersey, less than an hour from us and we would see them a couple of times a year. However they had moved to Florida after my uncle retired from his job as a printer so I didn’t get to see them nearly as often as I used to and they were cool so I looked forward to the trip.

My aunt (my dad’s sister) and her husband were both deaf due to childhood illnesses. My aunt had gone to school where she had been taught how to read lips and to speak so as long as I faced her when I spoke and over-pronounced my words a little, it was easy to communicate with her. My uncle, on the other hand, had been taught to use American Sign Language (ASL) – he could read lips to an extent but his speaking was not very clear and he spoke in the syntax of ASL, which is not the same as English syntax – but between that and my ability to fingerspell, I could converse with him as well, albeit much more slowly.

So I went to their house in Hallandale and each day we went somewhere or did something interesting…on a boat on the intercostal, to the beach, out to dinner at a restaurant, whatever. I remember they brought me to Albertson’s once – a supermarket of the now-defunct (or nearly defunct?) chain and, as a native New Yorker, I was intrigued at the aisle they devoted just to “tourist stuff” since our supermarkets “at home” certainly didn’t carry T-shirts and flip-flops! (I live in Florida now – I’ve since adjusted to that way of life) It’s also where I bought one of my first pieces of kitschy stuff – a container dubbed as Genuine Canned Florida Sunshine ;-).

Anyway, on one of the days I was visiting, we went somewhere further out so we were driving a particularly long distance. Conversation in the car was strained because I was in the back seat, my uncle was driving (so I couldn’t communicate with him at all), and to be able to talk with my aunt, it meant she had to turn halfway around in her seat in order to be able to read my lips which, in the long-term, is not very comfortable. So the conversations eventually ended. But we still had quite a way to drive so, being a teenager who was very into her music, I asked my aunt to turn the radio on. It took her a second or two to find and work the dial and when the station finally went on, it was queued to a Spanish-speaking station. Of course, the stations in Florida weren’t the same as the stations in Staten Island so I asked my aunt if there were any stations in the area that played Top 40. Her deadpan response was classic:

“I don’t know. We don’t listen to the radio. We’re deaf.”

Oops. 😉

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Just as a reminder, I’m still hoping to win this contest. Would you help me? Voters must be in the United States (thank-you anyway, oh fabulous and wonderful UK friends!) and only 1 vote per person. Contest ends February 7th. When you get to our story (“A Romance A Long Time In The Making”), I think you have to register but the website is generally not “spammy”. Once you’re registered, click on the green “up arrow” next to our story and it should then say “VOTED!” where the green arrow had been. If you have any questions, please let me know. Oh, and reply here so I know who to thank. And hey, if you forward this on to some friends, I’ll thank you even more. 😉

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