My jaw nearly dropped when Wolverine walked towards me for the first time.
It was like that time when Hugh Jackman worked out at my Equinox club, and when he left the club, he looked right me in the eyes and flashed an enchanting smile. I was pleasantly taken aback.
Except this one had blue eyes (I have a soft spot for blue eyes). And killer posture.
We met for marshmallow lattes but we ended up talking the whole afternoon as we walked 3+ miles around the city.
I was drawn to him but I couldn’t put my finger on why right away. The second time we met, I had the pleasure of finding out he was a phenomenal kisser. I mean, that helped a little, but that wasn’t it.
It was how well he listened and maintained eye contact with me.
The virtue of eye contact has been neglected in our look-down (at our phones) culture. Given how much effort I’m used to putting in to understand what’s happening and what’s being said in my environment, my listening skills are above average. I don’t have the luxury of looking away, and I’m glad I don’t. My experience has given me a x-ray vision for people who are/aren’t engaged.
There’s no two-facing when you’re out with a Deaf person. It’s out on the table; either you’re going to try to connect or you’re not.
Wolverine remembers the things I say. I know because he refers to it in conversation. This is not as common with people as I’d like to say. He locks eyes with me when we talk. He doesn’t hide behind his phone, even if we’re just watching a comedy.
His behavior tells me he values and enjoys our time and conversations just as much as I do. (Yes, present tense, as we’re still in touch!)
A few weeks later, he invited me to play flag football.
I love being active but I’m a solo athlete. My sports range from high school singles tennis to rock climbing to CrossFit now. I think it’s partly because, in addition to wanting to push myself, it’s just easier without the communication barriers.
Plus, I am a fitness professional, and more than a pair of good lookin’ biceps!
But I love a game of catch and knew it’d be a blast so I didn’t think twice about saying yes.
Although I was a little nervous about something else.
When the setting goes from one on one to a group, I tend to tread the situation with questions (at least with people I’m trying to impress!) How will the guy react when he notices the dynamics might change when a Deaf person is thrown in to the mix? It requires a little more empathy and inclusiveness. Is it going to turn him off? I probably shouldn’t have to worry about these things, but I’ve had my share of awkward moments.
I mentioned this to Wolverine before we went and he didn’t seem fazed.
I figured I shouldn’t be too. I decided when I went to flag football it would not be a problem and ask what I needed, like “Can you tell me what the play is again?”
I’ve been working on my approach because in the past, I felt guilty asking people to acknowledge my feelings in a group setting and make an effort to include me. When I feel left out of the conversation, I have not always advocated for myself. My good friend Emily recently told me, I need not be afraid to acknowledge the importance of my inclusion in a group setting.
Because I have no shame in who I am and what I need, it didn’t become an issue and I had an awesome evening with Wolverine and company.
In my old marketing gig, this statistic was drilled in my head:
95% human thinking is driven by unconscious influences.
We remember and react to people with emotion, regardless of how logical we think we are.
His attentiveness and body language enticed me before anything fitness. (I’m not such a meathead, after all. ;-))
And that’s why I’m still friends with Wolverine.
Even though it didn’t go in the direction I hoped, I am thrilled we’re friends because he intrigues me as a person and I look forward to learning more about him.
Wolverine claims he isn’t the best communicator. But because I was Deaf, I could appreciate his way of making me feel heard and included, whether we’re playing flag football or watching a comedy.
Here’s a workout I had him try and now you can, too!
Try to be uncool this weekend and get in a workout in to keep the good gains ahead of the bad gains, yeah?
No access to a gym? Try this:
- Squat holding a suitcase, put your dog on your back or play piggyback a little kid.
- Push-ups, chest to ground or elevated to make it harder, instead of pull-ups.
- Step-ups on a chair or table instead of box jumps.
- Swing using a milk gallon instead of a kettlebell 🙂 or lay on the ground and do glute bridges!