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Saturday, April 15, 2017

deaf prom

As the big date approached I couldn't resist playing the drama
queen on Facebook:

It's going to snow on my prom!

Prom jitters... They are serving pasta, and i'm wearing
off-white!

Time to Journey to Neverland. My date is a 19 year old hottie
in a lavender dress. I wear the pants in this relationship.

The 2nd annual Deaf Prom was held on April 8th at Quaker Square
in Akron, Ohio. The prom is an awareness and social event
sponsored by the University of Akron ASL Club.

I didn't attend my high school prom, Homecoming or any other
formal events. Boys tended not to like girls with both hearing
and vision disabilities. I never went on a date or had a
boyfriend.

It didn't bother me that I missed the prom. The 18 year old me
operated in survival mode. the less time out in the big, bad
world, the better to reduce anxiety and humiliation. I had no
desire to attend a normal teen right of passage. It didn't bother
me... and that's what bothers the adult me.

I know what you are thinking, and you are wrong. This isn't a
story about an adult going back to re-do the past she never had.
This is the tale of an adult with a sense of humor who wanted an
exciting night out with people who can speak her language -- sign
language, because, yes, she has some icky disabilities that makes
interacting with the public a challenge.

I was pretty in pink pants... dusty rose jeans, that is. If I'm
going to do something, I'll do it my way. No chance I'd buy and
wear an actual prom dress. But the cream colored sweater I wore
was kind of fancy. With dangling gold and cream earrings, a
little makeup and rose nail polish, I looked like a girl. (My
"lipstick" was Dr. Pepper flavored lip gloss... more doing it my
way.)

Miranda, a Kent State interpreter student, was my "date." She
bought us both flowers made to match our dress colors. Mine had
baby breath, lilies and flowers in purple and pink. I used the
neat magnets to attach it to my sweater. Miranda had a wardrobe
crisis when she knocked hers off and the inner magnet dropped
into her bra.

My friend Greg got dinner for me: rigatoni, a brad stick, salad
and sugar cookies. I did not make a mess of myself. Someone else
spilled his entire plate on his clothes... but the prom went on.

We were given party favors -- each person got a pair of
sunglasses with "University of Akron ASL Club" written on the
sides. A trend-setter put his on for dinner. Soon we were all
decked out in them. But an announcement was made asking us to
take off the sunglasses. They interfered with reading facial
expressions, which is a vital part of sign language.

After dinner, Miranda and I went to the night, starry sky back
drop for formal pictures... and goofy ones with us wearing bright
feather bows and another with me in Mickey Mouse ears and Miranda
in a hat with propellers. (I'm told I am smirking in that one.)

The prom guests were adults and college students, but the
atmosphere was pure high school awkwardness on the dance floor.
Everyone was waiting for someone else to start. I "jumped in" for
YMCA and the worm, plus other fast dances. I sat in my mobility
chair while Miranda and some guys helped me with the moves.

Some things have changed. Nominations for king and queen were
taken via text messages. The top five hearing nominees and top
tow deaf moved onto the final round of voting. Alex and Avery
were voted hearing prom king and queen. Louis was voted deaf king
for the second year in a row. At this point, I told Miranda I
wanted to leave right away. She just laughed.

The deaf prom queen was............... me!

I let out a huge mock, shock reaction as I went forward for my
crown. Louis and I did a slow dance together. It wasn't a dream
come true, I never dreamed I'd be prom queen. It was still pretty
cool. I accepted congratulations from my fans and smiled for
1,000 pictures.

From being a master to a prom queen at age 43... It's not
inspirational, just fun.

Angie C. Orlando
April 2017
Permission is granted to share.

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