The South African Series

Pee-pee, the Deaf Guy

One of the characters at the afterschool program is a dude missing all kinds of teeth The ones he is left with have been browned by years of poor oral hygiene. His name is Pee-pee. Rumor has it that Pee-pee was born deaf, and gained part of his hearing late last year after he was prayed for. Pee-pee bears all the hallmarks of a guy with a disability (or in this case, former disability), meaning that he over compensates for that deficiency by striving to be ‘cool’. He walks with an unnatural limp, sags his pants and never, but NEVER, leaves his home without a cap perfectly slanted to the side of his oblong head. He is also very eager to show his affection. The first time he was introduced to us, he snatched Liya from my arms and to her surprise (and I think horror), planted an enthusiastic kiss on her cheek. I thought his mouth was going to engulf her head. She seemed unsure what to do next, and met his slobbery, gap toothed smile with a wary stare.

Pee-pee, being hitherto 100% deaf, must not know that you don’t have to shout to get one’s attention – at least not at the decibel that he employs. I wonder if the clicks were the only audible sound he was able to make out as a child, growing up among Xhosas. Pee-pee uses the same inflection for the same words in the same pattern every time he wants to express himself.

He says:

Ooo goo *click*!

The then does an exuberant pantomime to accompany his sentence, to illustrate what he’s trying to communicate. Generally, one of the township kids will try to interpret what he’s saying. If you don’t look him directly in the eye while he’s talking, he’ll thump you in your chest: or in my case, my breast.

The first time Pee-pee used his fore and middle fingers to poke me in my cleavage, it was the day of the welcome performance. I was alarmed, to say the least.

“What the – ?!?!”

Happily, I caught myself before I finished the sentence. This might have been a theater/library, but it was still a church.

“Ooo goo *click*,” he exclaimed.


“Oooo goo *click*! Ooo gooooooo *click*!” he repeated.

After a 3 minute game of township charades, we deciphered that he was asking if Michael was my husband.

“No, no,” said Michael, pointing to Marshall. “That’s her husband.”

“Ahhh…,” said Pee-pee.

Then he did something that can only be described as revolting. He covered the side of his mouth with his left hand to hide it from Michael’s view, stuck his massive tongue into his cheek and forcefully began to stroke it.

“Oh! GROSS!” I screamed. “Eww Pee-pee…ewww!”

He stopped making the gesture and looked at me blankly.

“Oooo goo *click*!” he shouted.

I took the liberty of interpreting that as “I’m sorry”, however I’m willing to wager he meant “What? Everyone does it.”