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The old FSL stink eye

Walkin'

I got especially nervous after we joined the church across thover added an exponential component and she cleaned for two solid weeks.
“Poor Pearl is stuck in her kennel for 10 days,” Sabra said into the phone as I walked into the kitchen.
Since our beloved Labradoodle tore the ligament in her knee recently, I’ve heard her tell the story many times, not leaving out any detail. In a nutshell, the dog was operated on a week ago Friday and has to stay in her kennel and wear the cone of shame for a full two weeks. Then, she has another four months of a gradually increasing regimen of leash walks and other therapy to regain her strength. If all goes well, she’ll be healed, but never back to a full 100 percent of herself, around the first of the year. When Sabra tells it (which she has done many times), the story is much longer and detailed.
So, I knew what she was saying by heart but didn’t know whom she was talking to on the phone, so I used FSL (Fleck Sign Language) to ask her. FSL is very much like American Sign Language (ASL) except no one else really knows how to speak it, other than Sabra and I. It’s the secret, non-verbal communication developed when you live with someone for many years. My sign for “who” is a furled brow combined with a shrug of the shoulders while placing my hands open and in front.
Sabra got the message instantly, somehow managing to mouth silently, “it’s your mom,” without missing a beat in her extensive narrative of the saga of Pearl. I was pleased to hear this for a couple of reasons.
For one thing, it meant Mom was wearing her hearing aid. She had to be, she’s pretty much stone deaf and Sabra wasn’t repeating herself. It also saved me the trouble of calling Mom to tell her I planned to visit in a couple days.
Actually it’s no trouble at all for me to call my parents, I just push the button on my smart phone and say, “call Mom.” But phone calls have become quite the hassle for Mom and Dad, as I witnessed on my most recent visit. Dad, who is about to turn 92, is still pretty spry but uses a walker, and Mom, as detailed, is hard of hearing. So when the phone rings, Dad starts making his way to the receiver, at about a 10th of a mile an hour, while hollering at Mom, “The phone is ringing!”
They are both very diligent people and, come hell or high water, they are going to answer the phone. With a little luck, they arrive at the same time on the 11th ring, one ring shy of the answering machine kicking in. This timing is actually perfect as they’ve begun to use the machine to screen calls. A telemarketer from Jamaica has been Jamaicing them crazy, to the point where they called the local police. The cops told them the obvious: there’s nothing they can do. So the folks make their mad, if somewhat slow, dash to the phone every time it rings.
So while Sabra continued telling her story, I FSL-ed I was going to make a grilled ham and cheese with a side of coleslaw for lunch and asked her if she wanted one. She pantomimed back while continuing to talk that she did, but I should take extra care to cut any excess fat from the meat in her sandwich. To describe all the nuances of body parts and motions needed to conclude this silent conversation would require volumes of writing. Suffice it to say, by the time it was concluded, neither of us needed to exercise for the remainder of the day.
For the next hour or so, I was able to make and eat said sandwich while listening to Sabra go through the infinitesimal details of what happened. My favorite part of the story is the beginning, where Sabra acts out how Pearl was walking when she jumped awkwardly from her own shadow. She does a startled Pearl perfectly.
Anyway, when she got to the end of the epic tale, she handed the phone to me and said, “Here, your mom wants to talk to you.” We exchanged pleasantries for a few minutes before the conversation lagged. To keep it going Mom asked, “So I haven’t heard anything about Pearl lately, how’s she been?”
Got to go, I’m getting the FSL equivalent of the stink eye.