Monday, October 17, 2016


Brainz is an on-line, e-mail writing group. Each month the Brainz moderator sends us a word and we each write a short piece on the theme and email it back to him.  He then compiles all the responses and re-sends it to us. Wanna join? It's not for slackers. If you don't participate, you are ejected from the game. There's a private FaceBook group - "The Brainz Group". Contact them. Tell 'em Jean Yeager sent you and you will receive a whole bunch of absolutely nothing.

The word for October 2016 - "SOUND"

It is always a surprise when the Brainz word of the month comes along.  I am reminded of a word exercise we would do in a University of Chicago “Story Workshop” in which our instructor Betty Shiflett would say, “Reach back for the surprise word.” Then, we would go around the circle sounding our “surprise” words. Of course, some students would come prepared and say surprise words such as “bougainvillea” (always on everybody’s surprise word list) and Betty would quickly say, “Another...” This totally surprised the person with the prepared response into silence. I found that mostly the second surprise word response, the surprise  surprise word was very much more spontaneous and led to a stronger visual scene.
So, when “SOUND” came this month I immediately thought I’d re-write a blog post I wrote months ago, “Love Is A Tone (Heart To Heart)”.  Typical for a slacker. I’m too busy. Let me re-write.
That was my first response. But, I had a stern talking with myself, gave myself a pep talk and decided to reach back for the surprise surprise response. It will at least be spontaneous even if it lacks any literary sense or social relevancy as with most of my work.
I have no idea why the second response to the word SOUND was a memory of my deaf guy routine which is my typical response when I am accosted by a panhandler. They are usually drunk with a hand out, bleary eyed, really disheveled. They usually hit me on my way into the supermarket. You know, “Gotta quarter?”
Then I go into my deaf-guy routine.  An anti-SOUND response. I clap my hands loudly. Look stern. Waggle my right index finger ferociously and then make a series of sign-language looking gestures designed to convince the poor drunk panhandler that I can’t hear and am a damn aggressive deaf guy.
Usually they look fearful, apologetic or mutter “Geezus, this a-hole is worse off than I am!” and walk away.  I once had one guy who went into a gorilla routine making huge gestures like an ape, actually dancing around in the parking lot.  I couldn’t help myself, I applauded and said, “That’s great!” He said, “Quarter?” I went back into the deaf guy routine. He shot me a finger and walked away. A soundless conversation.
Last time I sent into my deaf guy routine, my daughter Hallie, an American Sign Language translator, was with me. Afterwards, I asked her if my gestures were in any way close to genuine sign-language words.  She said “yes”, the rough translation was: “Can we mambo through the banana patch.”
Copyright 2016 - Jean W. Yeager - All Rights Reserved


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