I, like most people I know, noted the passing of Nelson Mandela with sadness. Here was a man of great fortitude, willing to sacrifice the best years of his life in protest of an unjust regime so that the day might soon arrive when all South Africans were treated equally. So it was sad to see the passing of such a great man, but by no means was it a surprise. He was, after all, 95 years old which is crazy fucking old. The rule of thumb is that you aren’t truly old until you can shit on a cafeteria tray at the metropolitan museum of art and everyone just accepts it because of your age. You can get away with that shit when you’re 95, but if you try it when you’re, say, 28, you know what would happen? You’d be fined $1,700 and ordered to perform 120 hours community service, that’s what would happen. Not that I would know. (Editor’s Note: He knows.)
So it wasn’t a shock when I heard that Nelson Mandela had passed away. What was a shock was when I opened up a browser this afternoon to discover that the person hired to translate the comments of speakers at the memorial service into sign language, fucking faked the entire thing. I shit you not. This guy wasn’t just bad at signing, he didn’t know how to do it at all. But did that stop him from giving it the ol’ college try? Fuck no, he got right up there and did his best, which is all you can ask of a person, really. Unless you want to get all uptight and nitpicky about it and demand that people are actually qualified to perform the job they claim to be able to do, which apparently everyone is because there is a firestorm of moral outrage over this ass-clown and his inaccurately gesticulating fingers.
Personally, I thought it was funny as hell. I would LOVE it if someone were to show up at my memorial service and do something crazy like that. “What’s that? You want to fold origami beer cans and make balloon goats for the mourners? That would mean so much to Greg’s friends and family. Please, go right ahead!” And then the guy would just crumble up newspaper and inflate condoms to the utter confusion of everyone present. That would be hilarious.
But beyond the surreal hilarity inherent in crashing a funeral in such boneheaded fashion, I was amazed by the sheer balls on this guy. I mean, there are some jobs that you have to know that you can’t fake. Heavyweight prizefighter, for instance, or (as I found out the hard way) brain surgeon.
Real Doctor: Ok, Doctor, we’re all set. Can you tell us what technique you’re going to use?
Me: Huh? Oh, yeah, right. (Takes pull off of flask.) Umm, we’re going to remove the medulla hakuna matata so we can check it for… You know.
Real Doctor: What?!?
Me: Ok, hand me a melon baller and a couple of 9 volt lantern batteries. IT’S TIME TO GET FREAKY!!!
Real Doctor: You’re… You’re not a real brain surgeon, are you?
Me: What? Why, I’ll have you know that I attended Franks Hopkins Medical School!
Real Doctor: You mean Johns Hopkins?
Me: Uh, yeah… That place.
Real Doctor: …
Real Doctor: …
Me: Look over there! (Points across room, grabs brain, runs away)
This guy had to have known that it was highly likely that he’d get caught, but he went ahead and gave it a shot in front of an audience of billions (source: I pulled that number out of my ass). That takes an extra serving of cajones, my friends, with a side of pure, old-fashioned idiocy.
Because this is South Africa we’re talking about. If you pulled this stunt in the United States, you’d have your own reality show in three weeks, tops (although if your crime was judged to be particularly cruel or inhuman you might be forced to share it with Tila Tequila). In South Africa, you’d wind up on TV too, but only to show the authorities pulling out your teeth so they could be used to remove your testicles. On the plus side, he’d learn the sign language for “OWWWWW!” really quick once they’d removed his tongue.
I did read that this guy had been hired before to sign for the President of South Africa, so on the one hand you’d have thought that this guy would’ve have been caught sooner. On the other hand, signing for a politician isn’t exactly a high profile gig. No one really listens to politicians, anyway, so what are the odds that anyone’s paying attention to the guy with the flying fingers? Politicians have tumbled to this fact, and often give speeches consisting of pure gibberish. Hell, Ross Perot made an entire political career out of it.
“My fellow Americans: I come here before you today to tell you that my pants are filled with elderberries. I took a trout to prom my senior year of high school, because fancy pastry in the dungaree tree. Dugouts, retread tires, and a Svengali-like effect on the tubers. Icky-dicky whim-wham, and a coo-coo-kachoo. Thank you.” – H. Ross Perot, announcing his presidential candidacy, 1991.
But, wow. To crash a memorial service beamed across the globe and stand there next to every single person that spoke and fucking wing it is just batshit-insane levels of crazy. The only way it could have been worse is if the guy knew sign language and was secretly getting deaf people all over the world riled up.
Marlee Matlin: (signs to husband) What the fuck? Barack Obama just said that deaf people are the taint of humanity!!!
Deaf people would riot if they thought Obama had really said that, although they’d need some noise makers because otherwise you wouldn’t be able to hear them amassing outside.
(Off topic: Do you think Marlee Matlin’s husband talks shit to her while he’s doing her from behind in bed, just because he can? “Yeah, and THIS is for telling your mom we’re going to her house for Xmas this year, you hag!” Tell you what, I’ll call him up and ask.)
In the end, the fake sign-language guy doesn’t impact the legacy of a great man like Nelson Mandela. He’ll be an odd footnote at the end of a very long biography, if that. Chances are that he will fade into obscurity where he rightly belongs. But just to be on the safe side, ask if your surgeon has a melon baller or a 9 volt lantern battery before allowing him to open up your skull.