Adventures in Autistic Parenthood

Sunday, January 9, 2011


I lived in Orlando Fl for about 7 years, working as a stagehand/roadie. Somewhere in the basement is a stack of crew shirts, convention mementos, backstage passes, and other odd stuff from that surreal time. Working as a roadie is the kind of job that's cool to talk about after you don't do it anymore. It's fun to see the looks on people's faces when you can tell them, 'Elton John is a pretty cool guy' (but his manager is a pr*ck) or 'Jimmy Buffet is about like you'd expect him to be' or 'I've talked to Colin Powel' or even 'I saved my buddy from being killed by Barbara Bush's secret service agents'. (All true, btw)  But while you're doing the job you wonder what evil thing you must have done in a previous life to have to suffer such a horrible pennance in this one.
  One of the more important things to do with the job is the backstage pass, with it, you get into the gig to make your money. Without it, you're just one of the nameless rabble looking for a concert shirt. Sometimes it doesn't even have to be the right one, and you can still get in the gig and see the show. It's also a kind of Badge of Honor in a strange sort of way. You're doing a job that not many people do, and not everyone you work with even gets them. They're a kind of walking resume' that you can show off to make other roadies jealous that they didn't work that show. And I've heard rumors that there are a certain group of females willing to do all sorts of interesting things to obtain them. (I can't say for myself, that's just what I heard) But in all those three hundred and some odd passes there's one that's just a little more special than even working The Who's reunion tour and that's my Dude-Pass.

X-Box 360!!!!

    As part of pre-natal care (as some of you may know) is the ultrasound visit. I've been to several and they're all the same. You wait in a tiny room stuck to the side of a hospital (ORMC), or something converted from a storage room (ACCH), or, for all I know, stuck out in a shed in the parking lot. No matter where it is, they seem to have the crappiest waiting rooms and either the meanest or most distracted receiving nurse depending on if your appointment was on an even or odd day. As I remember it the procedure works something like this: First you wait 30 minutes beyond your appointment time, despite the fact that they insisted that you show up 15 minutes early 'just in case'. Then they take the woman away for some strange female Voudoun (voodoo) ritual called the 'chilly goo torture' and leave the man out in the waiting area with 3 metric tons of outdated magazines and 10 pregnant women. And let me tell you, there's nothing in the world to make a man more nervous than a room full of natal hormones. Even the women whose condition you didn't cause look at you like it's all your fault. Once they've done whatever it is they do in there, the male is finally allowed into the room and despite the fact that the procedure has already been done they have to re-goo the belly, drag the machine over from the side of the room and basically start all over. During the re-run they ask the 'Big Question'. ie: Do you want to know the sex? (I thought sex was what got us here in the first place) Now when we answered 'yes' the technician skillfully, and quickly, gave us a split-view of our child's body, which was pretty freaky. Then she did some sort of twist/slide/wiggle and zoomed-in to a view that would get her 2-5 years as a child pornographer if she'd done it a few years later. Obviously this was not this woman's first time.
   So, there I am, staring at my (obvious to me) son's... well.... package, let's say. I'm just starting to get all stereotypically prideful male, (cause, let's face it, zoomed in like that the kid looked like a porn star) when from the general direction of the table comes a strange question. "What is it?". The nurse and I both looked down at the distended redhead on the table in utter confusion. I, having the highest IQ in the room, immediately asked the most intelligent question saying, "Huh?" Which drew an equally intelligent response from the table. "What is it? What are you looking at?". The nurse and I exchanged a look of near perfect
 incomprehension and simultaneously checked to make sure that she could see the monitor. She could. We checked to make sure her eyes were open. They were.  Thinking that perhaps we didn't understand the question, or impatient with our lack of intelligent (?) response, Ellie asked once again, slowly and clearly, " What. Are. You. Looking. At.?". Afraid that I was over thinking the whole problem, I chose the only answer amongst the thousands of questions bouncing around my skull. I pointed at the sonogram machine and said (and I quote), "Boy parts."  This absolutely cracked up the nurse. In her 10 years of natal viewing she'd never heard it put quite that way, and it took quite some time for her to gain enough control to continue on to the final portion of the visit.
  Now those of you in the parenting club might have been through this procedure and I'm sure that most of you have been given a printout of various images shown to you on the screen. Now at ORMC (Orlando Regional Medical Center) they had several innovations that I'd never seen, or even heard of. The first was that instead of getting a heat-transfer, like a bad 7-11 receipt, or a printout on photographic paper we were given a transparency, like an X-ray. Which I thought was very cool, because it looked all medical and stuff. The second unexpected innovation was that the technician/nurse could enter text into the image before it was processed.

Winter Goofball

   We were allowed to choose 9-3'x4' images (with text) that were printed out on a single sheet. I'm almost certain that my inadvertently humorous remark gave the nurse several ideas that enhanced her imagination when it came to choosing the text on those images. But, like any felon hearing the prison gate open, we just grabbed our 'personal effects' and bolted out of the building. I was in my own living room when I got my first real look at my son's first pictures. I almost dropped the sheet when I reached the final two and started laughing semi-hysterically. Most of the images either had no text at all, or your standard 'hi mom' sort of things, but the last two were a bit different. The first had my son's 'generative member' (that's right, his dick) bracketed by 7 or so carats (<) with the caption, 'I'M A BOY'.  I guess to make certain that Ellie wouldn't have to wonder what she was looking at. But the last one was aimed directly at me with a similar view of Dude's genitalia, fewer little arrows and the caption 'Boy Parts!!'. Sensitive to my wife's embarrassment, and having a gig to go to that evening, I immediately separated the 'Boy Parts!!' image, punched a hole in the top and placed it on my lanyard with that evening's backstage pass. All that evening, and for several weeks afterwards I explained to anyone who asked (and quite a few that didn't) that this was my 'Baby Pass', and that I couldn't get into the birth without it. I'm almost certain it was amusing the first 20 or so times I said it.
   I no longer work as a stage-whore (you pay, we play) so my backstage passes mostly just gather dust in the basement. None of them ever got me into anything as wonderful, strange, or wierd as my Dude-Pass.

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