This story that I am about to tell you is Pre-Cochlear Implant era. Before I was given my “hearing” back!
I realised with a shock that I had a large amount of friends in Durban but I didn’t know one single unattached male! All my friends were married or had that “significant other.” All except me. Which being forty-two, eight years off the dreaded 50, was not a promising prospect as far as marriage goes. Not so? I decided to take matters into my own hands.
Computer dating! In my defence, can you think of any other alternative?
I joined a website called Matchmakers. I supplied them with two photos of myself, plus a profile. In it I was totally honest. I began by saying: “I am not the usual “girl around town”. I am deaf. Having said that, don’t be frightened off! I am someone with a tremendous zest for life. Someone well worth knowing!”
I began to get answers back immediately! My first invitation was on a Sunday night with a man called Andries. Yes! Yes! Yes! It was all beginning!
Andries and I had been writing to one another for about five days. (Yeah, yeah, long time friends! I know, I know……). He had just recently separated from his wife and was in the process of getting a divorce. He had two sons and the whole process was taking it’s toll. He wrote to me: “My sons can’t accept the fact that I want a divorce. But I must. For the past sixteen years I have been unbearably lonely.”
We arranged to meet at Circus restaurant which was situated just across the road from me. I was so unbelievably nervous. This was my first date in years! I bought new eye shadow and new lipstick and I must say that when I walked across to Musgrave Centre, I looked good! I looked almost fantastic! I had no sooner sat down then I was joined by this man. Andries had arrived! He had sent me a photo of himself the night before and I recognised him instantly. Whoooow, a good looking guy!
And so, how did the evening go? It would have gone fantastically if it weren’t for one thing. This dark haired, blue eyed woman is deaf. Oh, at times,I hate this bloody disability! I know there are those who will protest very loudly that being deaf is not a major disability. But to this previously hearing person, I beg to differ. It makes things so difficult.
Nervously I explained about my ‘microphone’. Whenever I was in a very crowded environment that made hearing difficult, I bought out this little microphone and people spoke into it. It magnified their voices making it that much easier to hear them. There is something so humbling about having to explain about it. Hell, I suppose that was good for me, in a way. But I hated it.
And I then proceeded to use it. Never having met Andries before, I didn’t yet know how his mouth moved. Everyone’s mouth moves differently and the more I got to know people the better I was at understanding them. Andries was Afrikaans and I’m sure he had an accent which made it more difficult. You try being deaf and speaking to someone you’ve never met before in a crowded restaurant with only a damn microphone to help you! Also I should have warned him that often in restaurants I tended to speak too loudly, so to gesture if I did. I could then instantly drop my voice. He must have squirmed at this deaf girl, brandishing a microphone at him, shouting loudly about intimate subjects like his divorce!
“So, Andries, I’m so sorry about your divorce.” I bellowed, “Your boys must be hurting.”
“Ja, Gaynor, they…mutter,mumble…in school.”
“Oh, school. Really.” ( “Really” is something I say when I haven’t the first clue what has just been said!)
“Ja, they feel that…mutter mutter…their school friends and….mutter mutter…like it.”
(Having no idea what he had just said! )”Oh…,” taking a large sip of wine and managing to yell another “Really!
Our conversation was truly progressing well! Trying to change the subject, I bellowed: “Tell me about your work? You wrote that this weekend you were conducting workshops. How did they go?”
“On Saturday we had a…mutter mumble…but it was good for me to…mutter…mutter such a thing. It made me…mutter…mumble…mutter.”
I took another sip of wine and then bellowed, “Really!” very enthusiastically. Oh yes, this conversation was scintillating in its thrust and parry. Glory be!
Andries must have heaved a sigh of relief when I finally said good night and made my way dispiritedly back to my flat. Also, I didn’t think that men found me attractive. No, I’m serious. I thought that men were disappointed with what was presented to them.
After three similar evenings with three other men, I finally decided enough was enough. This Matchmaking was not for me. My heart aches for that forty-two year old deaf girl searching for a mate. It was destined for failure. At that time, I had too many things going against me.
It is difficult being deaf.
Often when we try to force something to happen it is doomed to failure.
Fortunately I gave men up and instead got stuck in to rehearsing my second show Gaynor Rising. I opened in Jo’burg and I then bought the production down to Durban where I performed at The Kwasuka Theatre. It was after one of my performances that I met Matthew.
Laugh….. and finally, a relationship began!