| If you're under 18, go away! What did I just tell you?
On Deaf Ears by Lucinda Gavin
Deb waved to me from a table set against a spectacular view of the
lake front. I marveled at the little sailboats and other water craft
dotting a blue Lake Michigan. I sometimes forget how much I enjoy
Chicago. I maneuvered past the sparkling tables and waiters, and I
gave the slender woman a hug. I laughed at the butterfly pats we gave
each other, as if we were still sorority girls. Deb wore a lovely
white suit with crisp notes of navy and gold, her hair was wrapped in
a French twist. Impeccable as always.
"Meg, what have you done? Every time I see you, you look more and
more like a hippy! I thought you let your ears close up, now you're
double pierced and ... oh god, one in the cartilage! Open your mouth,
I want check if you pierced your tongue!"
"Deb, I haven't pierced my tongue," I sighed. "Nothing around the nose
and mouth, but I am thinking of getting a belly ring!" I gave Deb a
"Oh, don't even talk to me. Although I have to admit I do like the
dress," Deb said as she stood back from me. Deb always felt she
needed to advise me on my fashion choices. "But honey, I don't know
if such a sexy dress is appropriate for lunch, is it?"
"Sexy!? I was just going for flattering. I mean, if I don't wear
knits, I look like a violin stuffed in a shoe box. Unlike you, I
can't afford to have dresses made."
"Is this my fault? I remember you saying you'd never become a
starving artist, but look at you."
"Graduate students, and postdocs to a lesser extent, live in genteel
poverty. I am not starving..."
"I can see that... You know, they have really good salads here."
Deb had the subtlety of a coal truck speeding down a Pennsylvania
mountain. Her scrutiny would kill my appetite anyway. We sat and
caught up during our annual lunch together. I showed pictures of my
nieces and nephews; she told me the details of her sister's latest
"Have you heard from Michael?" I offered, cautiously.
"Not since I moved back here, but I hear from his mother. I talk to
her more often than he does. Since we didn't have kids and I had my
career, it was a pretty clean break."
I didn't answer. There was nothing to say. The two of us ate in
silence for a few moments.
"Meg, guess what? In the don't-you-feel-old-now category, guess who I
saw at his nephew's Bar Mitzvah? Marc!"
"Marc? Katzen? Bar Mitzvah? Oh man... Well, his did get
"You should have seen him, he's doing very well. Pretty much running
his father's business now. The women were all over him. He was
getting more attention than little David."
"But how? He can't use a regular telephone..."
"Oh, his threw money at the problem. I couldn't believe the
setup they have for him; it's really impressive. He told me that
there are regular customers that still don't know he's hearing
impaired. Christ, I can't even tell now, except for the hearing aids.
Meg... Marc and I are going to the ballet at the end of the week." It
was Deb's turn to be sly.
"That... that's great. So you're saying he's still single?"
"Well, with the deaf thing, I think he's always been shy around
hearing women. I also think he's afraid of gold diggers... Let's face
it, he's a great catch. I don't know why you two never went out."
Once again, I had nothing to say. How do you explain missed
opportunities, even to yourself?
My middle school and high school maintained the program for the
region's hearing impaired. You would think that this would allow the
deaf kids to get adjusted to the hearing world, but that's not
entirely true. Due to their special needs, they were in separate
classes with their own set of teachers. Unfortunately, nothing
separates people more than the inability to communicate with one
another with ease. Except... There was Marc. Marc and his friend,
Kyle, were mainstreamed into the honors classes, probably at the
insistence of their parents. They were very bright kids who just
happened to be deaf.
I sat behind or beside Marc throughout that time, for alphabetical
reasons. Teachers often grouped me with Marc and Kyle, probably
assuming my shy, mousy demeanor implied a tolerant and patient
temperament. Marc knew better. He and I loved to argue. It was true,
I was patient with Marc and he was patient with me, but we would
verbally circle each other like boxers, looking for the perfect jab.
He would have me proofread his writing. When I would correct
something, Marc would ask me why it was wrong.
"It just doesn't sound right."
He hated that answer; He wanted to know exactly. Marc hated making
mistakes, especially when it came to language. Marc was unbelievably
determined. I felt lazy and ill focused compared to him. I tried to
learn sign language and only got as far as the alphabet. Marc
wouldn't help me. He said he wouldn't answer if I tried to use sign
language. It wasn't coming easily so I quit. I always felt bad about
that, but Marc probably would tell me, "See? That just proves my
"I don't know why you two never went out..."
Marc and I were both late bloomers. We were both very short when we
entered high school, and looked very young. I would call Marc "cute"
just to annoy him. He was cute; the dark curly hair setting off the
smooth pale skin. Marc had thick, long lashes that women would kill
for. Instead of his growth hitting between freshman and
sophomore year, it came the next summer, and the summer after that. I
remember the first day of senior year. Marc and I usually didn't see
each other over summers, and I wanted to see him so we could catch up.
I watched the deaf kids get off their bus and did not see Marc. I
hoped he wasn't sick, but I didn't see Kyle either. Then, Kyle stepped
out of a car with a few of the other deaf kids. Driving to school,
the unmistakable mark of high school status. I waved to Kyle, and he
"Have you seen Marc?"
"He's got a car now, but he might be here a little later, since he has
to drive from Skokie."
"Okay, thanks, see you in class."
During attendance, Marc was still missing, and I was feeling anxious.
The class buzzed with summer gossip, plans, and the elation of
becoming seniors. The door opened, and a walked through the door.
Marc was now six foot tall, with shoulders... He wore the preppy
uniform of a polo shirt, chinos, and loafers. His unruly curls were
cut close and neat. I stared at him with a thoroughly foreign
experience; I lusted after Marc. I heard the gasps of the other in the room. I was not alone in this. Marc looked at me, and I
smiled, probably with every thought and feeling projected on my face.
I'm a great actress, but I'm terrible at poker. Marc smiled back, and
I felt the heat rise and pounding in my chest. Deb laughed at me.
"Geez, Meg, do you think you can get *more* red?"
The rest of the class laughed, which just made it worse. Marc slipped
into the desk behind me. His legs now extended on either side of me,
and he leaned forward. I turned a little to face him. Marc put his
hand on my arm as he spoke in my ear.
"I'm going to have to plan for the traffic," Marc said softly.
My jaw was slack, the blood was pounding in my ears. I had felt his
warm breath and his now deep voice resonate through me. His hand was
still on my arm, and I didn't want it move. Marc leaned back and took
his hand away. I was about ready to cry. I had trouble looking him
in the eyes.
"Marc, you look..." I said as I stared at his shirt.
"My made me wear this. She says I'm too for t-shirts. Meg,
do you have rehearsal or anything after school?"
I snapped at him, "It's the first day of school, why would I have
"Fine, I won't show you my car."
"Oh, I'm sorry. Sure, I'd like to see your car."
I had trouble talking to him that day. The other in class did
not have that problem. They were quite pleased with Marc's
transformation, and to my young, insecure eyes, he seemed to be
enjoying it far too much. I didn't recognize the attempts he made to
include me; I just saw the subtle glances from the girls. Glances
that told me I was out of my league, little girl. I was willing to
accept their judgment.
At the end of the day, the final bell rang. I walked to the door,
ready to go home and cry on my bed. Marc was lost to me. A strong
hand took hold of my arm and stopped me.
"I thought you wanted to see my car."
I looked up at him. There was Marc, the Marc excited about a
new toy. I was looking into a man's face, but I finally saw my friend
in his eyes. I felt lighter. It was going to be okay. We walked out
of the school and through the parking lot. To one side was a neat row
of cars, all with the letters declaring 'Deaf Driver.'
"That's mine," said Marc as he pointed to a Toyota.
"Wow, it's nice."
"It's for too, according to and Dad, but I have to drive
Noah around. That's the deal. Want to go driving in it?"
"But I have to catch my bus..."
"I'll drive you home, nutbrain. Come on."
In the car, I began talking about my summer, but Marc stopped me.
"Meg, I can't read your lips while I'm driving, wait until we stop."
So I sat and watched Marc, getting used to the look of him. Slowly, I
relaxed and began to enjoy looking at him, imagining the potential in
those shoulders and those big hands. While we stopped at a light,
Marc returned my gaze and smiled. I couldn't imagine Marc smiling
like that unless I had snot showing or he was plotting a trick.
"What's wrong?" I cried.
"Nothing's wrong." His smile got bigger.
"Then why are you smiling at me like that?"
Marc's smile just kept getting bigger, but he wouldn't talk to me. He
was driving. Marc pulled the car into a convenience store.
"Come on, I want some pop."
I followed him in and stood with him by the refrigerated case. I
heard a woman having a difficult time at the register. Her voice had
a familiar lispy, nasal quality.
"That woman over there is deaf, I think she needs help," I whispered
Marc looked over and walked to the register. After a few brief signs,
the misunderstanding was cleared up. I saw the woman bring her hand
from her mouth forward, meaning "Thank you." Marc had a thoughtful
look on his face when we left the store.
"How can you tell when people are deaf? Can you hear the difference?"
"Of course, it's like you've got a cold all the time or something. I
guess it's so you can feel the vibrations in your sinuses."
"Can you teach me not to do that?"
"Marc, how am I supposed to do that?"
"I don't know. Just help me, please?"
We got back in the car, and I tried to think about it as Marc drove.
I tried to imitate the sound of a deaf person, to figure out what was
different. I realized Marc was driving us to the forest preserve. It
was a pretty day, and he parked the car under the shade of a cluster
of trees. He began to open the car door to get out, but I touched his
arm to stop him.
"If we're going to practice this, we might as well do it in the car.
I don't want to have everyone hear us 'ooh' and 'ahh.'"
"Okay, so show me how deaf people talk."
It was awkward at first, trying to think of things to say while Marc
watched me talk. We discussed the things the speech therapist told
him to do. Marc moved in closely to try and see any visual
differences. I became aware of his body so near mine, but it felt
comfortable and familiar, not like that morning. Then I watched him,
tried to see if his breath was moving more or less than mine. Marc
seemed frustrated with himself, which only seemed to motivate him
more. He kept telling me to face him directly, but the car was too
cramped. Suddenly, he opened the car door, went around to the other
side and practically yanked me out of the passenger's seat. He stood
in front of me, but he was a full head taller now, so I had to lean
back to look at him. Marc took hold of my waist and lifted me onto
the hood of the car. He leaned his arms on either side of me and
looked straight at me.
"Now I can see your face."
I was stunned. I just stared at him, looking into his eyes, wondering
why I never noticed how they were such a pretty crystal blue. I
looked at his mouth, not knowing yet what such a pair of full,
sensuous lips could do to me. I'm sure my mouth just hung open.
"I... I guess you should look at my tongue again. Does it look
different when I talk like this?... or like this?"
Marc watched my mouth intently. I was nervous and my heart was
pounding and I licked my lips. Marc blinked and looked at me, in my
eyes. I was overwhelmed by his presence, leaning over me the way he
was. This wasn't Marc, Marc was small, he was safe. He was still
looking at me, searching for something. He leaned closer and tilted
his head. Marc returned his gaze to my mouth. I didn't move, I knew
what Marc wanted now. I didn't want to breath.
I couldn't believe how soft his lips were. I don't know about other
women, but I think of as hard, or at least firm. I love this
little surprise of smooth, yielding flesh. I could have counted the
heart beats during the time Marc's lips just rested against mine,
demanding only that I stay right where I was. I could have counted
them if my brain had been functioning at all. Marc began kissing me,
leaning over me, and I let him. In my own mind, I was still a child,
but I wanted this to kiss me. He leaned further into me, and I
grabbed onto him before I fell back on to the hood of the car. Marc
grunted as he tried to adjust to my weight, wrapping one arm around my
waist. He broke the kiss and looked at me.
He had the stupidest grin on his face. I knew that grin, the "I won
this one, Meg, and I'm going to gloat for three weeks" grin. I hated
that grin. I would soon recognize it in other as the "I'm gonna
get some" grin. recycle grins.
"Why are you looking at me that way?" I snapped. I snapped a lot as a
teenager. Some people called it feisty, when really it was just
"I have to look at you to read your lips," Marc was still smiling.
"But I wasn't saying anything."
Marc still had his arm around my waist, and I still had one around
him. I could feel him breathe as he stood over me. I heard someone
shout in the distance, I looked and saw they were approaching the
parking lot. Marc followed my gaze, and pulled away from me. I slid
off the car hood and Marc put his hand on the open car door. Instead
of letting me get in the front seat, he pulled the lever to release
the seat back, indicating that I should get in the back seat of his
two-door. I stopped. I was scared. This was all too new. Marc
touched my arm, and I looked up at him. He looked scared too.
Parts of my body I hadn't known existed were buzzing. I was aching
with an unspecified need, and as little as I knew, I was aware that I
might find what I was looking for in that back seat. I ducked down
into the Japanese manufactured cave of sexual discovery. Marc
followed close behind, and I jumped at the loud metallic slam of the
car door. The shade of the trees darkened our little space, and
Marc's shadowy form soon covered me.
Let me just say, I've been extraordinarily lucky with my lovers, if I
can believe what other women tell me. Selfish apparently do not
bother with me. For a teenager, Marc was remarkably considerate.
Marc attacked my throat with those sensuous lips of his, and I began
moaning shamelessly. He stopped and looked down at me.
"I can feel that, I can feel your voice against my mouth. Do it
This one sentence has encouraged me to be a rather noisy lover ever
since. I relished the weight of his body pressing down on mine.
Something within me suggested that wrapping my legs around his hips
would feel really good. This evoked an animal-like groan from Marc
which, in turn, tweaked those aching, unidentified parts of mine. The
young slid his body up mine to look down at me. Marc kissed me
full on the lips, spreading mine with his tongue. Until this point,
French kissing had only been described to me. Like I said, I was a
late-bloomer. At first, I was grossed out by the slimy, drooly feel
of it, but Marc's warm rough tongue felt good against my own. In
fact, it felt very good, and soon I joined Marc in a new duel,
welcoming his tongue into every warm, wet corner.
Marc's hands were everywhere, and I didn't mind at all. I pulled up
his shirt, and he sat up to pull it over his head. Marc reached to
tug at mine and stopped. I was a little too lust crazed to notice
that he didn't want to press his advantage. I pulled my t-shirt over
my head and laid myself back on the car seat. Marc climbed on top of
me; I shuddered as those damn lips traveled over my shoulders and
traced the outline of my bra. He brought his hands up to my breasts,
and with the first squeeze, I planted my feet and began rocking my
hips. The bastard stopped again and looked up at me, resting his chin
on my sternum with that same stupid grin.
"Take off your bra"
Every boundary crossed just made me hungry for more. Bra, jeans,
panties were ultimately discarded. We covered ourselves with the
emergency blanket, hoping the cops wouldn't find us. By the time
Magic Lips had arrived between my legs, he was cramped at one end of
the back seat. I gestured for him to out, and I laid myself
opposite, offering to him my aching mound. I couldn't see his cock in
the darkness but I could smell it. I heard myself cry out in short
urgent gasps as Marc grabbed my hips and devoured me. The cry was
sharp when his tongue rode roughly over my clitoris. I wondered if he
had heard, but my response was understood by some other means, because
the Marc pushed my legs farther apart and rubbed his tongue back
and forth across the nub. He rested his free hand on my belly,
stroking me each time my diaphragm jumped with my gasps.
Through this erotic haze Marc had placed me in, I remembered his cock
and its scent. I reached out to touch it. It jumped. He jumped.
Marc stopped for a moment and then continued licking me. The hand on
my belly moved to my head, stroking my hair, indicating its approval.
I leaned my head forward and could smell it more strongly, but I
couldn't see it. I gently tried to grasp it in the dark. Another
jump, another pause, more approval. I slid my hand up the shaft and
Marc made a little cry. The hand on my head pushed me forward, and I
understood. I felt the tip brush against my cheek as I put it into my
mouth. As I began sucking, it was Marc's turn to moan and gasp. The
hand moved to my forehead and pushed me away.
"No... too much... wait..."
I was confused and wanted to protest, but Marc wouldn't have heard me.
Instead, Marc pressed his lips around my clitoris and hard. I
let out a piercing wail and pressed a foot against the car door,
squeezing and shuddering. My face was hot, and I was sweating. I
slumped against Marc's smooth body, trembling. The hand pressed
I covered Marc's cock with my mouth, rubbing my tongue against the
warm flesh. I tasted the salty fluid almost immediately. As I tried
to a little of it, a gush came forth hitting the back of my
throat. I coughed. It was over. I sat up and wiped my face with the
blanket. Marc looked up at me with that grin, and I figured the
stupid grin maybe wasn't so stupid. He rubbed my exposed back and
traced my spine down past the small of my back. I shuddered again, I
"We have to go, before the cops find us."
We dressed silently and rode silently. I was too overwhelmed to know
what to think. My body was still ringing. I was still a child who
simply reacted to things. I didn't plan or consider consequences. At
his request, I drew a map for Marc to follow to get me home. I barely
spoke to my that night. I went to bed early, but that wasn't
The next day at school, I was panicked. Could people see a difference
in me? I had to go to an officer's meeting for drama club before
first period, so I couldn't talk to Marc. I sat next to Deb during
the meeting, but she didn't say anything. She was my best friend.
Couldn't she see the difference? I was hurt. It was stupid, but I
was and stupid.
I was in a foul mood by the beginning of first period. When I walked
into the room, several were seated around Marc. He was smiling
and blushing at a that was sitting at my desk! Marc looked up at
me and saw the scowl. He looked frightened. The in my desk
looked up at me and responded to my frown with a "What's the matter
with you?" look.
"You know, Kruger, you really have to get over yourself," she said.
Marc didn't say anything.
It was the beginning of the end. After school, Marc tried to talk to
me. He said we were invited to a party at Jenny Wilson's that
weekend. No, *he* had been invited to her party, I replied. I
wouldn't listen. My eyes burned, but I wouldn't cry. Not in front of
him, not in front of anyone.
"You're not making sense, Meg. People like you. They think you're
funny, when you're not getting mad for no reason. Don't turn around,
I can't see you talk!"
"I can't compete with those other girls, Marc!"
"Compete? Meg, you don't understand what it's like to be a guy... I
trust you, not them. You don't know how good you have it with me,
another guy would have..."
"Would have what?"
"See, you don't know, you really don't know. I went too fast. Maybe
this was a mistake..."
Once he said our time together was a mistake, I stopped listening.
Marc tried, but his words fell on deaf ears. Time passed. No one
questioned our strained friendship. Marc's new appeal was enough of
an explanation. My performances on stage had earned me a sort of
counter-culture popularity, and I blossomed in its glow. We had even
tried to rekindle our friendship a few times, but it wouldn't take. I
had grown suspicious, and even I could see that Marc resented that. He
didn't deserve that, but I didn't know. I didn't understand. I
Deb was staring at me.
"You're still a daydreamer."
"Daydreamer, absent-minded professor, ADD, call it what you will," I
"Why don't you go with Marc to the ballet? How long will you be in
"I don't know, Deb. Our lives are so different now."
"I'm not telling you to marry him, just to catch up. See an friend." Deb's voice had softened. She was concerned.
Deb was right. It couldn't hurt. The worst that would happen is that
nothing would change. I had to 'get over myself' someday.
"Okay, go ahead and call him."