Sunday, January 09, 2011

I'm Down With That!

When is just 'being' an act of rebellion?

We went to the opera again today. It's broadcast live from the Met in New York City to cinemas around the world. We attend fairly regularly. Joe loves opera. I love Joe. Do the math. I'll admit that I like most of what I see and hear, a few I've just hated. But by and large it's a pleasant outing.

Part of what I enjoy about the experience is the people watching. This audience isn't like the one that's queuing up to see 'Tron'. It's older. It's more monied. It considers itself 'cultured' with a capitol K. I'm by far and away not the only person with a disability there. In fact there are walkers and canes and wheelchairs and hearing aids and comb overs everywhere you look.

Some of the conversations are hysterical. Two older women were standing at the bottom of the stairs going up to the rows behind the wheelchair seating and discussing their tickets. (Tickets are sold to exact seats, it's much more pretentious than 'general seating'.) They were trying to decide who should sit on which side. One has a weaker bladder the other needed to stretch her leg out into the aisle. I thought for a second there was going to be 'old lady smackdown wrestling' over the aisle seat. Eventually pee won over knee and up they went.

Then, to the obvious shock of everyone around us, in came a guy of about 50 who had Down Syndrome. The whole section hushed, many probably thinking, 'Poor dear, he's lost'. He sat with a woman a little older than him three seats down from me in the same row. It was clear that he was where he was supposed to be except he wasn't supposed to be where he was supposed to be. When the interior of the Met was projected onto the screen he said to the woman he was with, not loudly but excitedly, 'When I went to the Met in New York I used to sit up there!' The woman squinted at the screen and asked, 'Where?' 'Up there,' he said, 'in the Gods.'

I could almost hear the nudge nudge sounds that had been going on die down. This guy had been to the Met. Regularly. We were sitting in a movie theatre. He relaxed back into his seat and got ready for the performance. He was smartly dressed in a suit jacket, white shirt and tie.

He looked good.

But that wasn't the surprise.

He looked like he belonged.

And that, any way you slice it, is rebelliously political.

Forgive me for saying this but, man, I'm down with that.


Anonymous said...

The wheeliecrone says -
Yes, indeed!
People without disabilities like all sorts of different things. People with disabilities like all sorts of different things. There you go.

Andrea S. said...

I'm down with that ... ditto!

Anonymous said...

Me too.. ditto, I'm down with that!!!
How cool. Dave how come your eyes are so wide open to see such amazing things going on in the world?! Is Canada more exciting than the UK? Or am I just walking around with my eyes shut? x

Sher said...

This, believe it or not, is my favorite post so far. I love when people affected by disability are where they are supposed to be while being where they are not supposed to be. This post has put a smile on my face this Monday morning....not easy to do. Thank you for always pointing out the profound that can be in every day if we look.

P.S. I would have paid to see the old lady smackdown...and in my experience, pee wins over almost anything! Have a great day.

ivanova said...

That's so great! That man was where he was supposed to be.

I also love the description of the old lady smackdown. I have seen my mom and my aunt have that exact, identical conversation many times. Aisle seats are like gold to them!

Anonymous said...

I love it when I walk in anywhere with my 3 kids with DS. People always expect us to be lost....but we aren't. Why shouldn't people with DS enjoy the opera or art museum or a play? I take my kids, 2 teenagers and a daughter 22 to these events all the time. susan