Transcript of 4th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Kelly Wiseling, Wednesday, August 19, 1998 at 2:00 pm.

Dr. Balis: Hello, Kelly. How are you today?
Ms. Wiseling: I'm fine, and you?
Dr. Balis: I'm good. How was your week?
Ms. Wiseling: There's something I wanted to tell you about. This guy at work--I think I told you about Tom, he's from the Help Desk--changed his appearance. He looks like a totally different person now.
Dr. Balis: How so?
Ms. Wiseling: He has a dark suntan. And he started wearing contacts now, and he even shaves. I wonder if he has a new girlfriend, or maybe he's trying to impress Rachel. I liked him better with glasses. I always thought he was kind of cute.
Dr. Balis: Do you find him less attractive now?
Ms. Wiseling: No, not really. I guess I have a thing for tall skinny guys with glasses, but it wasn't only his appearance that attracted me to him.
Dr. Balis: What then?
Ms. Wiseling: His sense of humor--Tom's really funny. He's a little awkward sometimes, and I think that's sweet. He gestures a lot when he talks, so he's easy to understand. I think someone like that would pick up ASL quickly. And I was touched when he talked to me after that run-in with Scott Collavito. But I might be reading too much into it.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Wiseling: He seems genuine. A lot of guys are phony, they put on an act to impress people, especially women. If Tom asked me out, it would be because he really liked me. It wouldn't be because he felt sorry for me or because he thought that since I'm deaf, I must be desperate for a date and probably an easy lay. I've had boyfriends before, sort of, but they didn't really like me for myself.
Dr. Balis: What do you mean, "sort of?"
Ms. Wiseling: When I was a teenager, one of my mother's friends fixed me up with her son. I didn't like him, but it takes too much energy to fight my mother, so I went out with him. Daryl and I went to the movies and out for ice cream--high school stuff. Daryl was such a goody-goody. I knew that the only reason why he went out with me was so people would say, "What a nice boy, dating that poor little deaf girl."
Dr. Balis: You can't be sure of that.
Ms. Wiseling: You learn a lot about a person when you have sex with them. Daryl was very selfish, he never did anything for me. Nobody explained to him that "foreplay" means what you do before you knock her down and drag her by the hair into your cave. Daryl would shove it in whether I was ready or not. I used to lie there and count off to myself: one-thousand-and-one, one-thousand-and-two, waiting for it to be over. I only enjoyed it when I closed my eyes and pretended he was someone else.
Dr. Balis: How long were you and Daryl together?
Ms. Wiseling: About two years. He went to an out-of-state college. I was so glad when he left. I never even wrote to him.
Dr. Balis: Did you date while you were in college?
Ms. Wiseling: A little bit. Mostly, I concentrated on school. The first year was the hardest because I had so much catching up to do. I met this guy in one of my classes, he helped me with my ASL. We used to study together and go running. Peter and I started out as good friends. When we began having sex, it was not really a romantic thing. It was more like a necessity--we both wanted it so badly, and we each knew that the other was a safe bet. He was the first guy I really enjoyed intercourse with. All my hormones were going crazy, and I wanted it all the time.
Dr. Balis: That's normal for a college student.
Ms. Wiseling: I'm not sure if it was the sex I actually wanted or the affection. I couldn't get enough of either one. I was really curious, too. There were all these things I wanted to try. In my freshman year, when I first got a checking account, I joined one of those "book of the month clubs." I used to order the books that had "Warning: Sexually Explicit Material" next to the title--I was too embarrassed to buy them from a bookstore. At first, I felt okay exploring new things with Peter. He liked it in the beginning, but later on, he called me a nymphomaniac. In our senior year, he started avoiding me. I found out that he told his friends about what we did, in detail. They all thought I was a nymphomaniac and a slut. People used to make jokes about me all the time. All these rumors got started. Everyone thought I was the biggest whore on campus.
Dr. Balis: It sounds like Peter was threatened by your sexual demands. That's a common reaction among younger men who are insecure about their own sexuality.
Ms. Wiseling: I was really hurt by what he did. I couldn't understand why he would do that to me. He went out with another girl during his senior year, a skinny blonde. I always thought she was boring and not too smart. I hope she was terrible in bed, too.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. Have you dated since then?
Ms. Wiseling: I went out with a guy I met at DeafTech a few times. He was nice, but I was...I don't know. I think I was still fucked-up in the head after what happened with Peter. I was defensive and acted like a bitch.
Dr. Balis: Earlier, it sounded as though you were interested in dating again.
Ms. Wiseling: I go back and forth a lot. Sometimes, I think it would be nice to have someone to go to dinner with, to talk to, and to have sex with. Other times, I don't think it's worth the bother. Dating is stressful, it makes you worry all the time. I like going out and being social, I like doing things with people. I haven't done much of that lately, I've been working so much.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Ms. Wiseling: I find that once I make the first step--by smiling and saying hello--it's usually pretty easy after that. Most people at work are friendly to me.
Dr. Balis: Do you interact socially with your co-workers after work?
Ms. Wiseling: Sometimes I go to lunch with a group of them. I also go out with one of my roommates. The Deaf Center helped me find a shared housing situation. The four of us share a flat: me, two deaf women, and a hearing woman who is studying to be an interpreter. I like her best.
Dr. Balis: Why is that?
Ms. Wiseling: It's not just because Angie is a hearing person--I know that's what the two deaf girls say behind my back, but that's not true. I don't like those girls. They talk about Angie, too, when she's not home. They make fun of her, they say she's a bad interpreter. There are some deaf people who don't like hearing people who join the deaf community, even those who work as teachers and interpreters. Some hearing people are accepted if they have a family member who is deaf and they are good at ASL.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Ms. Wiseling: It's more of the Deaf Power bullshit I heard at Gallaudet. The deaf community needs hearing people, too--they contribute a lot as interpreters and teachers, and they also add diversity to the group. It doesn't make sense to greet a newcomer to the deaf community with hostility.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Wiseling: I don't spend a lot of time with Angie, though. She has a boyfriend. Everyone except me has a boyfriend.
Dr. Balis: Would you like a boyfriend also?
Ms. Wiseling: Yes, but I don't know where to start. I'm new here, and I don't know many people.
Dr. Balis: You mentioned Tom...
Ms. Wiseling: I thought about that, but Tom only has eyes for Rachel. I can tell by the way he looks at her, he's got quite a crush on her. I don't see what's so great about Rachel. She's pretty, I guess. Maybe I'm jealous.
Dr. Balis: Some men find it difficult to approach a woman.
Ms. Wiseling: I can't make the first step and approach Tom. I couldn't do that. I can talk to him at work, but I couldn't ask him out. Lately, I can't even talk to him about work-related stuff.
Dr. Balis: Why is that?
Ms. Wiseling: Sometimes, I'm uncomfortable around people I'm attracted to.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. You don't have to ask him out on a date. You can suggest going out for coffee. Get to know him. Maybe you can become friends...
Ms. Wiseling: What if he doesn't like me? I don't want to make a fool of myself, throwing myself at someone who's not interested. Even worse, what if he says yes only because he doesn't want to hurt my feelings? I don't want a pity date.
Dr. Balis: It's hard to get to know someone. But it's always self-defeating to play "what if" games. You and Tom could hit it off and became good friends.
Ms. Wiseling: Yeah, but there are a lot of jerks out there pretending to be nice guys--like Daryl. Did you see that movie, "In the Company of Men?" Both of those guys were awful, but Chad--the handsome blond--was total scum. I hate to admit it, but I probably would have fallen for Chad. He put on such a convincing act. He knew all the right things to say and do.
Dr. Balis: How do you feel about the way the deaf woman was portrayed in that movie?
Ms. Wiseling: I know some deaf people who didn't like the performance of Stacy Edwards, the actress who played the deaf woman, because she isn't really deaf. Some deaf activists find that's as offensive as Al Jolson putting on blackface or Mickey Rooney playing the Japanese landlord in "Breakfast at Tiffany's."
Dr. Balis: How do you feel about it?
Ms. Wiseling: Deaf activists complain about everything. I thought Stacy Edwards was very believable; she signed and acted like a deaf person. She acted well with her eyes and facial expressions. The character Christine didn't seem like a passive victim to me. She was a real person with faults, and quirks, and a sense of humor. I thought she spoke eloquently about the isolation experienced by deaf people.
Dr. Balis: What were your impressions of the film in general?
Ms. Wiseling: Many people were shocked by it. I wasn't. I've known a lot of guys, hearing and deaf, who are like that. I thought the point of the movie was that men are reduced to that kind of ruthlessness from working in a corporate environment--they have to be that way to survive. That's why the movie was titled, "In the Company of Men." Sometimes I wonder if SII is like that. I haven't been there long enough to figure it out.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Wiseling: I also think that the movie was saying that men like Chad are deeply unhappy and always will be. There's a scene near the end where he's sitting alone in front of the TV, smoking and laughing. He was laughing, but he wasn't happy. It was a bitter and lonely scene. He had alienated everyone to preserve himself.
Dr. Balis: That's very insightful.
Ms. Wiseling: I saw that movie several times. I also want to see "Beyond Silence," a foreign film about deaf parents who have a hearing daughter. I'm not sure if it's still playing.
Dr. Balis: I'm not sure.
Ms. Wiseling: You might be right, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: About what?
Ms. Wiseling: I should approach Tom. If it works out, it works out. But I don't want people at work to know, especially if it turns out badly.
Dr. Balis: They don't necessarily have to find out.
Ms. Wiseling: They will, they always do. Office workers notice everything. That would be terrible--if Tom rejected me and the whole office knew. I would just die.
Dr. Balis: That's just a worst-case scenario.
Ms. Wiseling: Yeah, but I don't know if it's worth the risk. It's kind of nice to have a secret crush. You can create all these fantasies about someone you like.
Dr. Balis: It sounds like you have a very rich inner life.
Ms. Wiseling: Yes, that's because I don't have much of an outer life. Daydreams are sometimes better than the real thing.
Dr. Balis: Sometimes they can be.
Ms. Wiseling: Time for me to go?
Dr. Balis: Yes, I'm afraid so.
Ms. Wiseling: I spent the whole time talking about men! What a waste.
Dr. Balis: We're a complicated and fascinating subject.
Ms. Wiseling: Ha! Don't flatter yourself. You're nothing more than big baboons without fur.
Dr. Balis: Or the distinctive purple bottoms.
Ms. Wiseling: Hey, that's pretty good.
Dr. Balis: Have a good week.
Ms. Wiseling: You too, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: Goodbye, Kelly.
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