Really? You're dating an interpreter? Of course you are. How original of you. Don't mind my eye rolling here, do go on and tell me all about how ahmazing this interpreter is that you're dating and having sex with. Good. For. You.
Except... really? Are you sure you want to be dating that interpreter. Because you do know what you are getting yourself into right? And odds are, this isn't going to end very well. Interpreters and Deaf folks dating one another is generally speaking, not one for the record books in terms of longevity. Yes, I know. You are the exception. This time is different. They're not like that. They "get it."
Oh, honey. That look on my face? Yes, that's pity coupled with a little oh-dear.
Because here's what wisdom, experience, and observation have taught me: Sometimes Very Bad Ideas are kind of fun at first, but unless you two break the mold, this is going to unfold in one of several, but predictable ways.
There are always types too. Lets figure out which type you are dating and/or having sex with.
1. The New ASL Student (Who Wants to Become an Interpreter)This one shouldn't even be included in this list, because technically they're not interpreters. Except in their enthusiasm for the signs they are learning, they have convinced themselves that THEY WILL BECOME AN INTERPRETER. Adorable. For like two seconds. Because after you are done having sex with them, you will realize you have.nothing.to.talk.about. Because lets be real, they can't really sign that well can they? So moving right along here....
2. The New ITP Student
This one is a lot like the New ASL Student but with slightly more street cred. They may have staying power here. At this point you need to figure out a couple things like: Are they with you just for status and bragging rights? Because nothing says status in an ITP class like an ITP student interrupting her teacher "No, that's not true. My Deaf girlfriend said..." Trust me, this is a real thing. Hard to believe but it's.a.real.thing.
So you're not being used for status? Awesome. Second thing to figure out - Now are they actually any good? This is an important point and maybe a little difficult to ascertain if you're eyeballs deep in their nether regions, you might not be paying attention to what they're saying.
Are.they.any.good? I don't mean in bed, can they freaking sign? Are they fluent? Because if they're good, and they're good in bed, and decent human beings... and they rock your world in a very special way, you'll want to consider keeping them around. However... the rubber hits the road if they become the next type-
3. The Shitty Interpreter:It's really awkward (for the rest of us) when they suck. And they're always with a specific kind of Deaf person too. The one who teaches ASL in bars, the one who collects newbie signers like action figures they line up on the bedroom windowsill. These are the Deaf folks who pimp out their ASL the way some people use walking a dog through the park to attract girlfriends. There are boundary issues for days and days- because their Deaf partner will tell them "OF COURSE you are ready to interpret that play." They are so not ready to interpret that play. That shit is just awkward. What do you say to either one of them "You suck and you're stupid?" People, c'mon, just staawwwwp.
4. The Helper InterpreterThere is a special breed of hearing people that flock to helper roles in the Deaf community- teachers, audiologists, interpreters. You can identify them by their cloying sweetness and naivete. For some reason a bunch of them are white, young girls from upper middle class backgrounds who grew up notoriously sheltered. They just want to help poor Deaf folks. You come across this type? You Fucking Run. Because they will help you incessantly. You'll never get a word in edgewise. They'll tell you all about the real world (which is ironic considering their own limited experience.) They'll always know what is best for you, what you should wear, what you should say, where you should work, what you should do with your life. After all, they're just trying to help you. You want a paternalistic relationship with unequal power dynamics? Have at it. You don't? Motherfucking.Run.
5. The Church InterpreterSigh. The Church Interpreter is a sad breed of interpreters who date Deaf folks to save them. They're a bit like the Helper Interpreter and the Shitty Interpreter combined into a potent cocktail of Oh Hell No They Didn't. If an interpreter admits to volunteer interpreting for their own church, and it is clear that their talents are not God-Given (i.e. they suck).... and they're super religious.... I'm fairly certain this is going to be a dud for you in every way. You two can pray about it together, if you like, but it might be easier all the way around to skip this one.
6. The Really Good and/or Hot InterpreterSomehow, against the odds, you are dating the Holy Grail of interpreters- you are dating THE interpreter in the community. The hot one. The good one. (Or if you hit the mother load: the Hot -and- Good Interpreter). Yeah. This on the surface sounds like a good idea. Yeah. Except its not. Because every one will either:
1. hate you
2. envy you
Why is that? Because of scarcity principles. The more rare these mythical creatures are (the really good/hot interpreter), the higher their stock rises. And you'd better be some kind of special if you want to keep these ones around and interested for the long-term. Or super secure.. Because they will have more panties thrown at them than Taylor Swift and Adam Levine, combined. Save yourself the heartbreak and settle for a good, but not amazing, interpreter.
Also objectifying? Super creepy. If you're with them because of their status... you know that's not okay, right? They are real human beings with actual feelings. Don't date the hot/good interpreter unless you like the person they are behind the job/image. They can smell star fuckers and see you coming from a mile away.
7. The 9 to 5 InterpreterThese are the interpreters who swore they would never date a Deaf person. Because Deaf people are kind of jacked up and they have too much vicarious trauma to not be triggered by the way you breathe (too loudly). They clock in at their jobs, clock out, go home and have a beer and don't see another Deaf person again until their next job at the Social Security Administration, or at school the next day, or in a tiny booth waiting for the next Deaf caller. For them, interpreting is a job. It pays the bills. For them Deaf folks are work.
They would never in a million years consider bringing work home with them and into their beds. That wouldn't be professional, nor would it be fun.
Buts lets say they have a few too many beers one night, their better judgement gets left behind on the job... and you two hook up.
They're going to make you stay home with them. And hell no they won't go with you to the Deaf Club, because socializing with Deaf folks would violate their professional boundaries that they've worked so hard to maintain. Your friends will never see them and they'll become like unicorns- oft head of, but never seen- a fantasy of your own making.
8. The CODA Interpreter
Oh. Shit. You are in trouble. First of all, they probably sign better than you, which just hurts in a special kind of way. Second, they KNOW the shit you are going to do. They can call it in their sleep. You're going to call them from the other room. You're going to ask them to make phone calls for them. You're going to ask them to interpret for their doctor appointments. You're going to drag them to every goddamned Deaf event. They.know.that.shit. They grew up with that special brand of fucked-up-ness that Deaf people do behind closed doors. They have baggage and trauma for days, that you are going to specifically trigger, constantly. And let me tell you, they are going to tell you ALL about it. All the time. They are the authority on Deaf folks. They are more Deaf than you are. And every time you try to call them out on their hearing privilege, they're going to tell you just how long and hard their hearts bleed Deaf. You can't win. Do yourself a favor, buy them earplugs (trust me on this), and get yourself some soft slippers that don't shuffle. You'll thank me later. And if you are determined to date an interpreter, this is the best one out of the bunch.
Or...Just date Deaf folks and save yourself the grief people.