Gary Gardner (grgardner) wrote,
Gary Gardner

The Sound Of Silence

I made a new friend Saturday night -- without either of us speaking a word.  Dano is deaf.  We've seen each other at a Seattle nightclub a few times - he's always smiled at me, and waved.  He usually is standing in the corner with a few other deaf folks and they have very spirited and animated sign language conversations.  I often joke that when the bar gets hot and stuffy that I'm going to go stand by the deaf crowd and cool off from the breeze created by all their hand movements. 

Saturday night I decided to meet a few friends who were in town out at the bar, and because it was so nice I rode the bike.  Dano waved as I came in and went to the coat check to check in my big heavy motorcycle jacket.  After I did that he came up and made a sign like riding a motorcycle -- his fists in the air, cranking the throttle.  I nodded yes I rode.  He pointed to the door I guess asking if the bike was out there, so I nodded yes.  He gave me a look that I took as if asking  "can we look at it?" and I nodded and motioned to the door and he followed me.  I had left the red LED engine spotlights on to show it off as it was parked right outside the front door.  He saw the bike and let out an "AHHH" and gave me a thumbs up with a huge smile.  So I sat on the bike and patted the back seat with my hands and invited him to hop on.  At first he was a bit hesitant, but I motioned "come on" and patted the seat again.  He grinned and climbed on and started the bike up.  Now this bike is LOUD, but I'm sure he couldn't hear a thing, but I bet he felt the big V-Twin rev up because he let out a laugh - makng a sound almost like an infant would.  It's the only sound I've ever heard him make other than the "Ahh" when he saw the bike.  

I backed the bike out, and although he didn't have a helmet, we went a few blocks to a local park and did the loop around it.  He huged me tight and I could here him laughing with pure joy as we rode around for about 10 minutes and I'd rev the engine at the stop lights.  When we got back to the bar he hopped off, jumped up and down, and practiaclly danced with delight as he waited for me to stop the bike and climb off.  He grabbed me by the hand and pulled me back into the bar to the middle of the deaf group and started to widly sign.  They signed back, and introduced me to his boyfriend who is somewhat able to speak and who said I had made his night.  He was grinning still, as I made a swooping gentleman's bow and waved so I could go see my friends. 

A bit later I was ready to go, so I got my jacket from the coat check and Dano came up with a sad look and grabbed my coat and tried to sign something I couldn't understand, and I gave him a puzzled look. He got out a device like a small phone with a keyboard and typed out a note on the screen.  "You go now?"  And I nodded yes.  He grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the deaf group again where there was much signing and a very "loud" but silent conversation.  He got his boyfriends camera which he pointed to me and to the door, and then lead the entire group of deaf folks out.  He wanted to show it to them and have a picture on the bike.  So surounded by a group of deaf folks, I watched as Dano pointed at the red lights, gave a thumbs up, and I climbed on, started the bike and all of them put their hands on the tank to feel the vibrations.  I invited Dano to join me and there was no hesitation whatsoever this time, as he hopped right on and handed the camera to his boyfriend.    
Have you ever seen a bigger smile?  I turned around and said "want to go again?"  He nodded wildly yes, so once again we did the loop to the park and around, him hugging me tight and laughing out loud the whole way.  When we got back to the bar I asked him to email me the picture, so I gave him my phone (yes, I know -- he can text however) and email address. 

Sunday afternoon I got a text from him "Hi, it's Dano - thanks again for the ride on your bike, it was so much fun."  Well now I know his name!  So I texted him back, and said it was my pleasure and anytime he wanted to go for a ride to let me know.  He asked if I was serious and I texted back "hell yeah!".  Well, long and short of it, later that afternoon I rode up to Dano's house with a helmet for him this time and we took off again.  This time we went out around the foothills of the Cascades and down near Enumclaw where we saw Mt. Rainier.  When we came around a corner and there was the Mountain looming in front of us he tapped my shoulder and gave me a thumbs up and signaled to stop so he could take a picture.  It was one of those picture perfect Washington days and the Mountain was out in all it's glory.
We continued on our way, and actually spent about 3 hours and did well over 120 miles Sunday afternoon.  Neither of us said a word.  I was alone with my thoughts as I usually am on the bike - even when riding with someone like Tony who would be on his bike.  When riding with someone you communicate (with hand signals) or chat when stopped at traffic signals, whether they be a passenger or a fellow rider.  But this time there was no talking --  however I wasn't alone at all.  The only sound I heard was the bike and the wind -- he heard nothing at all, but I know he felt the wind in his face, the sun on his skin, and breathed deep the smell of the springtime just like I did.  He held tight on to me, gave me shoulder rubs when we stopped at stoplights, laughed when we went fast around curves, sighed when he saw Mt. Rainier and waved at all the bikers we passed like a he'd been riding all his life.    I think we both hated it when I turned back towards his house but i had to get back home and packed up for the final week of the Legislative session in Olympia.  

When we pulled up to his house he gave me a big long hug.  I got out my phone and typed out a message -- "We'll do this again soon".  He lit up and grinned, and before I got home there was a text message saying "I'm free next Saturday before 4pm".  Weather permitting, I think my new friend and I will go ride and enjoy the sound of silence.

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