Sunday, April 17, 2016

Not You - No Matter How You See It

Image description: A knot of wood beside a fluffly sheep with the words 'knot' and 'ewe' under their pictures.
Yesterday we went to see 'The Jungle Book' with the Ruby and Sadie. Their dad and his girlfriend were going to meet up with us at the theatre and were running a bit late. We decided, all of us together, that Ruby and Sadie would come with me to get our seats and settle in, we'd carry the popcorn and pop because we had lots of hands, and Joe would wait for everyone to arrive.

The Jungle Book was playing in a salon that had convoluted access. Everyone else entered the back of the room up a set of stairs, we come around through a secret passageway that winds through the back and ends at a door at the front of the room. I don't like 'separate entrances' but, in this case, not enough to boycott their use. They at least have done everything to make this passageway completely accessible, with auto door openers and ramps where needed.

The kids push the door opener and we enter, in spot light. The room is darkened and the hallway behind us is brightly lit. The kids go through first, I direct them to go in front of the screen to the far side of the cinema and then we go up to the row that we are going to sit in. They grab their seats, help me with what I'm carrying and settle in.

Two elderly women are sitting two rows behind us and are furiously whispering to one another. They are talking about me and about Ruby and Sadie beside me. Their disapproval is heard in their tone, their anger in the words they choose. They cannot understand me being there, in the theatre, alone with the two girls. First, I am a man. Second, I have a disability. I turn to look at them, I want to give them the message, "I can hear you." No surprise that they know and don't care. They are working themselves up into a state.

The girls are wrapped up in watching the trailers and thankfully do not notice. I can't stop listening to them. Whoever first gave the advice 'just ignore them' had no idea just how impossible that is to do. A few seconds later, everyone else arrived and there was another bustle of activity around our seats, and once everyone was quietly seated, the commentary behind me had stopped.

There's a lot of different things I'd like to say about what happened there. I could write about the assumptions that people make about others and how ignorance and prejudice place meaning on situations that inherently have none. Beyond what there is to us, there is no meaning to us being together, we just are, we just do, and we are just fine. If there is another meaning, it's positive. But even that positive meaning would be looking at the situation through a lens. It needs no lens. An adult is taking a couple of kids to a movie. That's ALL!!

What I do want to say is that I get really tired of people narrating my life. I feel like I'm in a movie where, in every scene, there is a switch of narrator. The fact that my difference is BIG draws commentary. Constant commentary. Those women, sitting behind me, were just two in a long day of commentary by others.

Why do people, when they see disability, have to put it into a context that they understand and then build a story around it to create commentary? Inspirporn is simply commentary about, mostly, nothing. Like what happened with me in the theatre, a hostile lens created hostile commentary about, mostly, nothing.

I live my life to create stories and memories for me.

Not. You.

3 comments:

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

What horrible old biddies!

May God have mercy on their souls. There's nothing else one can say about people who know nothing and still feel they have to have an opinion and proclaim it loudly.

I'm so glad the girls were unaware - it is so rude of those women to speak about any of you.

Janet Romero said...

"Why do people, when they see 'disability', have to put it into a context that they understand and then build a story around it to create commentary?" That question is a very powerful question, and one in which the word "disability" could be replaced with other words to describe characteristics that lead to marginalization. Thank you for your daily posts!!

Frank_V said...

One day, me, my wife, and 3 year old daughter were taking a walk in downtown Montreal. While we waited for a traffic light to change, I cuddled my darling daughter's head, making sure she stayed safe next to me. When the light changed, we crossed the street together.

When we got to the other side, it was then that I saw a man, who was GLARING at me. And then, he wagged his finger at me, and shook his head, in that universal language that said: NO no, you should not be doing THAT! It momentarily made me feel like a dirty old man, until I recovered my senses.

"I'm her FATHER!!" I wanted to scream at him, but instead, decided to walk away peacefully, knowing OUR family was by far in a much happier place than this guy was.