The battle was going on in my head as I approached him. Joe and I had just dined 'al fresco' having home made crates from a hot dog stand on the street. They have way higher class hot dog stands here! We were both in a good mood and decided that we'd walk a few more blocks looking at some of the shops on the street before we turned back towards the hotel.
When we crossed to the other side of the street, we turned round and headed back. As soon as we'd made the turn. I saw him. The cutest little boy laughing and talking with his mother. His wheelchair was obviously lovingly cared for. The frame was a deep, and quite beautiful, red, polished to a luster. The wheels, the spokes and the frame just shone.
I wanted to say something to the kid. Something about his wheelchair. Something friendly. Something that made a bit of a connection wheelchair user to wheelchair user. But I also didn't want to intrude on his day. I didn't know how he, or his mother, would take a casual remark from strangers.
Then I thought, 'But I'll bet they get casual remarks from strangers all the time, a wheelchair, any wheelchair, being a magnet for social inappropriateness.' My goal was to make a casual remark without being inappropriate.
As we went by I said, 'I love the red frame of your wheelchair.' He turned, quickly to see who had spoken, and stared at me, in shock. I didn't think he was staring at me because of my size or for any other reason, he just looked at me, hard but with gentleness, as we passed. We were just going into a store, the door had been opened. When he called out:\
'I love the red! My dad polishes my chair every night! I can go anywhere in my chair!!!' His eyes were bright. Really bright! His grin was hug. Really huge!
I called back that I wish I had a cool chair like that one.
He clapped his hands in excitement.
I called 'bye.'
He called 'bye.'
His mother mouthed the words 'Thank you.'
She didn't have too.
She really didn't have too.