Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sign On

Premonitions are not my bag. But, today after a meeting with some fellow writers I’m having second thoughts. We meet every so often in a public atrium to give constructive feedback, talk books and that sort of thing. The acoustics range from lousy to nil. And it’s hard for us to bunch closely together since there are usually ten or so of us. We take turns giving a little spiel, trying earnestly to perfect the art of voice projection. It seems futile, but we are game.

As a passing remark to my fellow scribe Janet I said, “We ought to learn sign language?” She nodded her head probably to be nice. I’m often filled with random musings. Today’s session was a bit more challenging because we were forced out of our usual haunt to the madhouse, Sony Atrium which is like being trapped in an Olympic swimming pool sans water.

We took our turns, parroted dittos of things we liked or disliked, shared insights, and sometimes blanked out. Twenty minutes into the thick of things, Janet nudged me. I figured it was my turn to go, but she shook her head and pointed out a group cattycorner to us— they were signing. I’ve heard about orgs that are sign language fluent and gather amongst themselves and finger-gab till their hearts content. I’d never seen it. It was amazing. I watched and saw an exchange between two women. They flashed what I perceived to be the same sequence for about a minute. Were they having a communication gap? The sucky acoustics didn’t matter to them. Maybe it was just a hard night to focus.

Things couldn’t get worse until they did. A flood of red shirts poured in. They shouted and ran about. They tossed a football. It was like summer camp. Bedlam. By 8:30 it was damn near impossible to pay attention and I really felt like a cup of joe. The signers still eagerly flashed their signs. They sat even closer to the shenanigans than us. I wouldn’t swear by it, but I think they drifted from whatever their original conversation had been and blabbed about the disorderlies.

We’re not meeting for another two weeks and I’m already hoping we’ll get back the better, less nutso place. Here’s a thought. We’re writers. If we can’t hear so well next time— it’s inevitable— we don’t have to feel compelled to have signing down pat. There’s time. But, in the meantime we could jot our thoughts. Sit in silence, write out our thoughts and impressions and pass them around.

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