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The Normand and Normand SwitchThe Normand and Normand Switch

The Normand and Normand Switch

Kirk Simoneau

Red Shoe Reader

Whenever December comes around, I always think about my parents. It was about this time of year back in the ‘60s when they met and had their first date.

Both of my parents are deaf, and they happened to be invited to the same wedding for a mutual deaf friend. My dad, Normand, showed up with his best friend, who is also named Normand, because he didn’t want to go alone. At one point during the reception, they spotted a beautiful young woman — my mom, who is just as beautiful today.

My dad has always been very shy and his best friend is not, so it was the bolder Normand who made the first move. He went up to my mom, chatted with her for a while, and ended up getting her address — for obvious reasons, deaf people didn’t exchange phone numbers before texting existed.

After the wedding, while the two Normands were driving home, my dad persuaded his friend, saying, “Hey, you know you get all the girls. Let me have Linda’s address so I can talk to her.” And like any good best friend, he conceded and handed the address over to my dad.

So, my dad wrote her a letter, but identified himself in it as “Normand from the wedding.” When my mom got the letter and read it, she naturally thought it was from Dad’s friend. They ended up writing each other back and forth for a long while before my dad finally screwed up his courage enough to ask her out on a date, and he was overjoyed when she agreed.“

When my mom got the letter and read it, she naturally thought it was from Dad’s friend.

When it came time for the date, my dad was both nervous and excited. He drove from Nashua to my mom’s place to pick her up. But when he arrived at the address, Dad got a bad case of first-date jitters and began doubting if he was at the right place. In order to be absolutely certain, he walked over to the house and started peeking through the windows to see if he could catch a glimpse of my mom and determine if he was at the correct location.

All the while, Dad was blissfully unaware of how much noise he was making while stamping through rose bushes and knocking things over.

My mom’s father heard all the racket outside and went to have a look. I can imagine the look Grandpa must’ve had on his face when he saw a strange man rifling through his plants and peering through the windows of his home.

Understandably, my grandfather was downright furious. He got hold of my dad, picking him up by the collar, and yelled, “Who the hell are you?!”

In both his broken verbal English and sign, my terrified dad tried to explain, “I’m here for Linda! I’m her date.” Grandpa then dragged Dad inside and asked my mom, “Do you know this man?” Linda took one look at him and signs to her father, “I have never seen this guy in my life.” Of course, she had never been privy to the “Normand” switch. My dad then very awkwardly had to explain the misunderstanding and convince Mom that it was he who she had been talking to all this time — and therefore, he was the one she was truly interested in. In the end, Mom believed him and my grandfather still let them go out.

You might be wondering where two deaf people like them go for a first date. Well, my parents went to see “The Sound of Music” on stage. You’d think that going to a musical wouldn’t be a deaf person’s first choice, but my dad had it all worked out.

Whenever someone asked him, “Why would you take a deaf woman to ‘The Sound of Music?’” Dad just winked and nudged them, saying, “You know why I took her.”

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