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It's Not Important

by Branden Huxtable

Originally published in the January 1998 issue of the CSCDHH GA Newsletter

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I read in DEAFDIGEST about a deaf man (now in his 80s) who came home for Thanksgiving. His hearing family started to talk rather seriously about something, but told him it was "not important." The next day, he happened to read the obituary section about the death of his grandfather. The editor of DEAFDIGEST had a similar experience about his grandmother's death.

Occasionally, I find myself with family or friends sitting around talking. Some of them interpret for me, but I try not to burden them especially if everyone is talking too fast. I much prefer one-on-one conversations because I can at least relax rather than trying to understand a large group, especially if they jabber away like normal hearing people. However, if I do get stuck in a large group, I try to understand what is happening some of the time by sitting with those who are willing to interpret a little bit. If not, people may suddenly laugh, or the conversation may get serious and I'll never know why. If I just ask a nearby hearing person, their answers sometimes frustrate me.

"It's not important." Could I decide if it's important? If someone else decides for me what is important, I lose control of what it is that I want. What is not important to some people is important to others. Even if no one says anything important, small-talk helps people to get to know each other, relax and possibly get closer to one another.

I would very much like that. The times when no one tells me the fun stuff, I feel left out, ignored and very bored.

"I'll tell you later." Will anyone remember two hours later?

Possibly not. What if the conversation went on for an hour? How much detail would be forgotten? Also, half the reason something may be funny or relevant is because it's happening now. Conversations lose something, especially my participation, when someone tries to explain later.

"We're talking about 'such-and-such.' Thanks, but what about it? I want more than a general idea. I want more than a teaser. I want to know more about what people think and feel about 'such-and-such.' With only a knowledge of topic, I feel frustrated because I cannot participate and contribute my thoughts along with everyone else. I'm left hanging there.

So, how should I handle people like them? It has to do with relationships and empathy, but I'll tell you later. It's not important.

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