Lip Reading

Being mostly deaf, I have learned to read lips. I didn’t train to do it, I just developed it on my own. It makes communicating a lot easier but I also “hear.”what people say about me when they think I’m out of earshot. One thing lip-reading has taught me is that people can be really ugly when they speak.

“I don’t know if he’s retarded or stupid.”

“Well, no one else in the family is retarded so he must be stupid.”

“No one else in the family is stupid, either.”

“Yea, well, there is that. Uh, oh, here he comes. Act nice.”

I, of course, “heard."what they said. I could walk up and tell them,

“I’m not retarded or stupid. I just act that way so you two won’t feel so inferior.”

I don’t because I’m not positive I’m smarter than them. I’m only a little sure I’m not stupid. I’m positive I’m not retarded. Reasonably positive. I don’t live in a group home.

Some people are amazed at my ability to size people up. I do that by reading their lips, seeing what they’re really saying and acting like I ’just know.” It makes people think I’m more street smart than I am.

Fact is, I’m street stupid.

People with accents are a big problem. They form their letter differently. The fact that they might also be speaking a different language is no help either. I ran into that a lot when I moved to the South. I “heard."words I knew didn’t exist. I thought I was getting stupid as I got older. Then my wife explained it to me and I felt a lot better. Now I can almost make out what these Southerners are saying. That is, I can make out the words. Can’t make any sense out them but then neither can they. It’s all a big pretense.


The Curies

Madame Marie Curie was excited at the success of her experiment. This wasn’t going to be like the dog. She presented a paper at the convention about how she trained a dog to eat when it heard a bell. Then she spoke of how the dog would salivate when it heard a bell, whether it ate or not.

She was hooted off the podium. Cries of “Foolish!.” “Silly woman!.” and “Who cares!.” rang in her ears. She came home and burned all her notes. Later, she denied she gave the paper or that she was even at the convention. This one, though, would make her reputation. She had a reputation now and this one would make it a good one. Have to tell Pierre.

Pierre was working in his garden. It was quiet and peaceful there. It was also on the opposite side of the house from Marie’s lab. He liked to come here and trim his roses. He needed to be careful not to-


-stick a thorn through his thumb! Sacre Bleu! That hurts. What’s that silly, foolish woman excited about now? Hope it doesn’t concern dogs.

“Pierre! Come quickly, my husband.”

My husband? No one talks like that in real life. Marie needs to get out of the lab more often. Not with Pierre though. Hope I’m not going to have a bunch of drooling dogs slobbering all over me, he thought.

“Yes, Marie? What do you want, love of my life?.” There, two can do that.

“Pierre, stand in front of that photographic plate. I have the most exciting thing to show you.”

Pierre went and stood in front of the plate while Marie took his picture. Hope she knows that photography has already been discovered. She took the negative and pinned it in front of a light. Marie told him to look at it and tell her what he saw. Pierre saw a picture of a skeleton. Big deal!

“Marie, it’s a picture of a skeleton.”

“No, my dear Pierre, it’s your skeleton. Isn’t it exciting? Think of the uses for this to doctors! Now, they can be more than just a step up from barbers. Now we won’t have to cut people open to see their insides.”

Pierre liked cutting people open. It’s what he did. As far as the barbering, he liked the way old Dr. Cousteu trimmed his hair.

“With a little less coating of the pitch derivative, I can see the outlines of your organs .” Marie told him.

Nice, real nice. So what? Other than as a party trick what’s the value of seeing the outline of a person’s organs? Oh, Marie! Another one of your dog ideas. Perhaps it’s the smell of the pitch. It’s pretty bad. Not as bad as a perforated bowel but close.

As they went to bed that night Marie was still excited. She was so excited that she glowed.



Mr. Po Po

Mr. Po Po felt he needed a rest. Taking care of the Po Po Nation was a huge responsibility. Mr. Po Po took his duties seriously. Up at noon for an hour, sometimes two, of decision making. Then, exhausted, lounging around the pool to restore himself for dinner out and all night playing DOOM! Yes, a break was needed. He told his second in command, Lalulinda to arrange a cruise. As he was fond of saying, “ Mr. Po Po doesn’t do details.”

Lalulinda made all the arrangements in her usual good fashion. Of course, Mr. Po Po couldn’t just pick up and go. He had to have a retinue. There was Rondanonono, the Moral Force; Lady Sondra, a former mud-wrestler, as Security Chief; Paul de Arrogant, the Keeper of the Flame; and Jaques, the Shaman of the Ancient Rites. They were all gathered at the dock wearing their native clothes; Shorts, bright blouses, flowered hats, and hiking boots for the females; shorts, white socks, and black dress shoes for the males.

Mr. Po Po walked up the gangplank with his normal dignity. The steward asked his name. Mr. Po Po looked at him incredulously. Name? That’s like asking the President’s name on Air Force One, and the President was a nobody. Mr. Po Po ignored the steward and went on board. The steward started to go after him until Lady Sondra grabbed him by the neck. Lalulinda explained things and got everything under control.

That night was karaoke night in the Piano Lounge. Mr. Po Po was there naturally. He also did his Frank Sinatra song. It was just like Frank, except that Mr. Po Po had a range more than three notes. There were murmurs in the audience such as, “My God, Even Frank couldn’t do Sinatra better. Mr. Po Po lead the ladies in a rendition of “Tie a Yellow Ribbon.” that brought tears to people’s eyes.

In the Bahamas, Jaques decided to fly. He signed up after Mr. Po Po assured him that it would increase his chances of meeting God a little bit sooner. He was quite a sight, flying through the air behind the boat. Then the boat’s engine sputtered and conked out. Jaques was also quite a sight as he made his emergency landing. Mr. Po Po told him it was the best belly flop he’d ever witnessed.

Rondanonono entered them all in the Knobby Knee Contest. She just knew one of them would win. Paul de Arrogant was placing bets. Then he won. Then he went for a swim. Then the crew fished him out of the ocean. He returned the money at the behest of Mr.. Po Po. Mr. Po Po told him, “ Never count your money in front of the suckers.”

They always sat at the Captains Table as a matter of right. The Captain didn’t want to offend the Po Po Nation. The Po Po’s could be very rough when they got their dander’s up. They once got so upset at a restaurant that they refused to leave a tip! Heads rolled on that one. Not literally. Well, maybe literally. They get the finest service there now for sure.

At dinner the waiter asked Mr. Po Po if he’d like a drink. Mr. Po Po considered that for a while. Then he made a decision. “ Mr. Po Po wants a sweet drink.."The waiter asked him what kind of sweet drink he’d like.

“Not a Whiskey Sour.”

“Yes, sir. But what sweet drink in particular.”

“Not a martini.”

Lalulinda held up a card with Banana Daiquiri written on it. The waiter nodded and took everyone else’s order. He brought their drinks back and waited for approval. Mr. Po Po tasted his and was pleased.

As they got back to the home port the Customs people were waiting to do their jobs. There weren’t enough of them, it was hot and they weren’t going to quickly. Mr. Po Po observed this for a short time. Then he stood on a table, spread his arms wide and cried out,

“Let my people go.”


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