People confuse me.
We are in Dublin now and glad the travel is finally over for a few days. Tomorrow I start doing a series of workshops for Down Syndrome Ireland and I'm looking forward to talking with people about the services here and hopefully provide some insights through my training. But it was Saturday night and I had Sunday off. We stopped into a very crowded hotel bar for a drink after going shopping at Tesco. I love Tesco.
Most people sat around tall tables on tall chairs. I was in my wheelchair so the table was fairly high but it served as a place to set my drink and for Joe and I to congregate around. Beside us was a group of young people. You could tell they'd grow up to be business people because they had that look about them - the I want to be a giant of industry kind of hunger. The woman, wearing a suit that was both conservative and sexy, was getting quite drunk. She was going on and on about how 'weird' she was because of something minor. Something not really weird.
A guy at the table countered, "That's nothing ..." and went on to explain what made him different, unique, bizarre - and again it was something mundane. Not worth recounting. But then the whole table got into their converstation about how different they were. It was like they wanted to assure themselves that they weren't just normal, mundane, ordinary people.
Then into the bar came a guy with cerebral palsy. He wasn't using a wheelchair and as he walked he was a jumble of knees and elbows and shoulders. He walked with effort. With determination. With purpose. He headed towards a table and when he got there he stood against it. Braced. An island that rescued him from the sense that he could topple at any moment. As he gathered himself for the assault on the bar for a drink, I noticed that I was not the only one to notice him.
The table next to me, silenced. They stared, almost gawked at him. It surprised me, they hadn't gawked at me. But then, I realized, in my chair I sit quietly. I look like a fat guy sitting down. I just have 'sitting down syndrome'. I'm not sure they even really noticed me as they were deep in their 'God, I'm just so crazy' conversation.
Cerebral Palsy firmly in check the guy made his way to the bar and ordered a drink. I suddenly remembered a comic with CP telling a story where he was explaining to a cop that he was not drunk he had 'cerebral palsy' and the cop said, "That's an awfully big word to say when you're drunk." I smiled.
They couldn't tear their eyes from him. One subtly shook his head. The woman glanced away with a mixture of pity and disgust.
Just a minute ago they wanted to assure themselve that they were different.
They just proved how incredibly normal they were.