Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sunday in New York with Pat

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

"One in 50 is autistic. Deal with it, A******s!" yelled a mother to the restaurant at large, dragging out her child while we were at dinner this evening.

Initially, her kid wasn't so much the problem; it was her friend's child, sitting at the other end of the table, screaming as loud as he could and setting off the autistic one.

The mother of the randomly naughty child said to our table, "Everyone was a child once."

"Yeah, but we didn't dare act like that at a restaurant," responded one of our friends.

"I guess we should just stay on the east side," said the woman, in a tone that sounded a bit desperate and condescending at once.

"The thing that bugs me sometimes," I said after they left, "is how people think that regardless of whether or not we are related to their children, everyone on earth is supposed to help take care of their kids, and cheerfully."

"Right, we didn't need to deal with her autistic kid," said one of my friends, who said he has an autistic nephew, "*She* needed to deal with him."

No matter what, I will never have empathy for parents, as I've not had a child. Considering the mother, who made the comment about all of us having been kids at one point, I changed the subject to children's books we loved as kids:

*Toby...*, about a zebra; anything by Maurice Sendak; *Harold and the Purple Crayon*; *The Phantom Tollbooth*; *The Book of Knowledge*; *James and the Giant Peach*; the Paddington series; Thornton Burgess'.....

We talked about gay and lesbian literature that first moved us, too. For our friend, who thought he wanted to be a fashion designer when he was in high school, it was *The Value of Nothing,* a novel by the fashion designer John Weitz; for another friend, it was seeing a gay porn magazine at a newsstand while in high school, "...which I didn't dare buy, of course!"

Another said it was a movie, rather than a book: "Alkali, Iowa." I told everyone of how I felt so bold, checking the card catalog for "lesbian" at my hometown's public library when I was in high school --

One of our friends said, "Right, and it had exploding, blue ink, so they knew what you'd been searching for?"

"There was only the most boring book, which I read in the library's basement all afternoon, a novel called, *Patience and Sarah.*"

Same friend: "So you were an impatient Sarah, reading *Patience and Sarah*!"

In an only-in-New-York sort of moment, when we were getting ready to leave, a group of five women at a table across the restaurant sang to a sixth one, "Happy Birthday" like I've never before heard it -- like they were from Julliard, with complex harmonies and nearly operatic voices.

All in one evening, at the same restaurant, we heard, as Pat characterized them, "Screaming by children from the 'Village of the Damned' and a chorus of angels."

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