Like Chinese Food And Cheese


Some talented, devoted people can learn to do this and some are like me.


 I spent Saturday night at a political event. This is something I would never normally do unless I was physically dragged or possibly for significant cash. There was overtime pay involved so, there I was. Despite knowing I was bringing home money for vacation, I was miserable most of the night. Luckily, the event’s sign language interpreters saved the evening for me.    

Signing Looks Like A Dance To Me…

Like events many of you have probably been to, this one had interpreters on stage to help the deaf and hard of hearing enjoy the messages delivered by the speakers. Despite a brief effort a long time ago to learn American Sign Language, I can’t read sign. All the same, I enjoy watching the interpreters in situations like this. Done well, it looks like a bit like a dance to me.    

Two women seemed to share the duty of signing; they took turns on one end of the stage. When I got the chance, I would watch them work. They made the time pass a little more tolerably.    

The man played his fiddle so hard I felt sorry for the instrument.


 …Except When Charlie Daniels Is Present.

The last part of the evening was a performance by  The Charlie Daniels Band. They took the stage and started with a long instrumental introduction to a song. As Charlie Daniels stepped up to begin singing, I saw something at the side of the stage. It was one of the sign language interpreters. It seemed she was going to interpret the songs for her audience. This truly had potential.    

The idea of having the songs interpreted seemed to run into an unanticipated snag. Daniels’ accent, the cadence of his speech, his tone and the sound quality made him hard for the people in the arena to understand. Apparently the effect was the same on stage. He started singing and the interpreter stood there. She watched and listened. Her hands were still and mute. It was clear she could not pick out the words he was singing. I saw her look to the side, presumably at the other interpreter. I thought she was going to leave the stage. To her credit, she didn’t. She stayed with her hands folded, listening for the opportunity to use her skills. Periodically she’d pick up a word or phrase, smile, and her hands would sing along with the band. Mostly though she stood there smiling.    

The end of the first song came. I anticipated that would also end the work of the interpreters. Not so! The other interpreter took her turn, with similar results. Throughout Daniels’ performance the interpreters hung in there, trying like mad to catch a word or phrase to sign. They didn’t have much luck.    

Chinese Food And Cheese

Daniels announced he’d play one more song, then launched into his hit, The Devil Went Down To Georgia.  If the interpreter on stage knew the song or  had rehearsed the one song she could be sure Daniels and his band would play I’ll never know. I just know I saw a grin and singing hands. It looked as if she got the better part of the words out and was very happy about it.    

All in all, I got a lot of nothing out of the night, except for an appreciation for two women who just would not give up. Well done ladies. Relentless spirit is always good to find.    

About a year ago, my son imparted some wisdom upon me that just seemed to fit here. “Some good things just don’t go well together” he told me, “like Chinese food and cheese.”    

’nuff said.    

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20 Comments on “Like Chinese Food And Cheese”

  1. queensgirl says:

    You said your boy was wise. Indeed. 🙂

    My fifth grade teacher taught us the alphabet in sign language and a few signs, and I’ve learned a couple more at work; some of the kids are non-verbal.

    • omawarisan says:

      I apparently don’t have any sort of ability to pick up languages. I tried learning Italian, no luck. Tried learning sign twice, including when I had an assignment that got me into the schools including one with a significant hearing impaired population. No luck. I bet you surprise yourself on what you pick up because of your work with those kids.

  2. wordofabe says:

    I have never thought about that before, but now that you mention it, I’ve never eaten cheese with my Chinese food. How do they survive without it?

    We have a sign language volunteer that helps out with some of our music presentations. I don’t know that there has ever been anyone attending who needed it, but she enjoys doing it and someday there just might be someone who can appreciate it. Like you did. 🙂

    • omawarisan says:

      It never occurred to me either until he brought it up. Now that I think of it, Kung Pao Chicken Au Gratin is not an appealing thought.

      Tell your volunteer I said hey!

  3. Roger's Place says:

    I love watching people talk with each other in sign language. I don’t know signing but you can tell a lot from body language and facial expressions. I once watched a couple at a restaurant have an angry dispute that many signs later turned into making up, then lighter chit-chat while eating their dinner.

    You have a smart son.

    • omawarisan says:

      Roger, it would take me an hour to explain the idea your example just gave me for a communication class I teach, but thank you!

      I do have a smart son. Mercifully, all my genes are recessive.

  4. pattypunker says:

    i once saw signers at a grateful dead concert and thought it looked like dancing as well. then just last week i saw two teen skateboarders on the train signing each other and thought they were the coolest people i’ve ever seen.

    pickles and peanut butter should never be mixed either. your son makes a great point.

    • omawarisan says:

      Someone once told me that deaf people go to concerts because of the vibration, that somehow that experience is somewhat like what hearing the music is to the rest of us. But they could have been messing with me too. No idea how you’d sign Jerry’s playing. wow.

      Pickles and peanut butter…yyyeeesh.

  5. KathiD says:

    Perhaps the signers could be useful in interpreting Soulja Boy’s text messages.

    • omawarisan says:

      They just couldn’t pick up what daniels was saying. With The Boy, they’d have to wonder if he was saying what they heard because it doesnt make sense!

  6. jammer5 says:

    Having moved to Kansas from California, it took me six months to figure out the Kansas motorists were waving and not flipping me off, as they do regularly in California. My bgffl, with whom I’m not with anymore, laughed her collective off when I flipped one back, and she told me what they were doing. Try driving below the steering wheel as you try to hide. Very bad 🙂

  7. planetross says:

    On the subject of … a type of sign language: my brother was trying to get a taxi in Indonesia and all the taxis kept driving by him. He asked a local why they weren’t stopping for him and they said because he had his arms folded across his chest. That’s supposedly a sign that you are angry and don’t want to be bothered.

  8. linlah says:

    My new “step-sister” in law – wahtever – signs for a living and I’m in awe of her. It is a dance.

  9. HippieCahier says:

    I wonder if Omawarison was speaking from experience. Regardless, Chinese food and cheese is a most excellent analogy. I plan to plagiarize it often. Just like I can’t shake the notion of “kidney list” friend. You fellas have a way with words.

    • omawarisan says:

      He hasn’t mentioned having Chicken Fried Rice Parmesan before so I’m thinking he’s just using the imagination I’m proud of.

      Oh yeah, gotta love my kidney list friends. I’m glad you like the idea!

  10. […] very wise once told me that some good things are not meant to go together, like Chinese food and cheese. This does not apply here. Pretzel rolls are meant to […]

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