Adventures in Autistic Parenthood

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Moving Stairs?:

Hit the button!
     I may have mentioned at some time or another that Dude likes elevators/escalators. I was wrong... David LOVES them. We once almost missed a flight when he found out about the slideways in the Charlotte airport. We had a one hour layover. So I thought I understood the depths of his attachment to the mechanical consumer movers but recently I've had to reassess my opinion. Upwards.
   Not too many days ago, and for reasons I can't fully explain Dave and I decided to accompany the females in our lives to the Mall. It seems that Raine's daughter, Alayna, was feeling unfashionably shaggy somewhere around her cranial regions. Translation: She needed a haircut. She chose to go to the Mall for some sort of fashion reason that I'm too male to understand, and also chose to have her mother accompany her, for something along the same reason that women can't go alone to restrooms in public places.
    The first I heard of the trip was when I answered my cell phone and Raine asked me to ask 'Layne (who has her own phone. And it's cooler than mine) if they were meeting at home, or at the mall for their hirsute rendezvous. Not being a consistently fluent female go-between, I immediately handed my less-cool phone to Layne. While they were plotting their latest round of conspicuous consumerism something strange was percolating in my brain. Well... stranger than usual, anyway. I vaguely remembered some sort of near-promises of malls and elevators. And I could almost remember who I'd almost promised these things to. Who did I know that liked such things? I knew it would come to me sooner or later. I was pretty sure it was a relative. So that was somewhere to start.
      By the time they'd finalized their meeting I had an idea. During the wait my diabolical scheme began to take shape, and when Raine got home I sprung it on her. Like all male plans it was simple, direct, brilliantly conceived.... and completely doomed to failure from the beginning. It was my intention that all four of us go to the Mall and then essentially pretend like we'd never met. They would go off in one direction to do their 'girly' things and Dave and I would pursue more manly diversions in an entirely different part of the Mall. This would include each group being responsible for their own dinner. (remember that part) And when each had finished their (supposedly) timely tasks, we would meet back up at the vehicle and return to our version of domestic bliss...ish.  Our mutual exit prompted by the fact that we each had keys to the car, and no compunctions about abandoning our partner at the local Monument to Consumerism. (Not really, but we each threaten pretty good)
   It was actually a pretty good plan up to a point. And not the point you might imagine, we met up for the exit, just as I had planned. It was the some of the stuff in between that got kind of skewed. As is wont to happen in our little happy group.
   We arrived, and parted company in the parking lot, and much like a gang of retail ninjas might assault their objective, we split up right there and entered through different doors. We kind of skipped the synchronizing the watches step, but the old Mission Impossible theme was briefly hummed by someone in one of the pairs. (I'll leave it to you to guess which one)  Dave and I entered through Dick's (no joke) a sporting goods store renowned for its selection and higher than average pricing. Dude and I weren't interested in their tremendous selection of overpriced merchandise, because at this mall, Dick's had something in particular that we (?) needed. Dick's had escalators. A big part of my 'Clever Plan' (tm) was a ride up those same escalators to the second floor as access to the Food Court, as a part of our Fast Food Diet Plan. (or FFDP, also trademarked)
     I will admit that Dick's response to the much-delayed, but imminent start to the NHL hockey season did have me distracted a bit with a full, center aisle display of Penguins apparel, so it was David that first noticed their mechanical difficulty. A loud, startled cry of,  'The escalators are broke!' was my first clue that my 'Clever Plan' (tm) was slowly beginning to circle the metaphorical toilet bowl. I turned my head to see real distress on the face of my youngest child. 'You have to fix the escalators!' he cried loudly. 'We can't go up in the escalators until they get fixed!' I obviously had to respond quickly to this tragedy, lest the world stop spinning, or dogs and cats started living together, or something.
Is he leading me down the Garden Path?
   To keep myself from panicking I leaned on my secret Dad-knowledge that there were, in fact, 3 other businesses, with a possible total of 5 other sets of escalators along with a glass elevator and  3 escalators in the common area of the mall. But to Dave, none of that mattered. This was the finest example of movable staircase art in the world, and quite possibly the only specimen left alive in captivity. And it was dead! Or at least that's what it sounded like.
     I tried to calm him down by telling him we would, in the natural course of events find other escalators, and that this one would work perfectly fine as a set of stairs and then to rise from the ashes and move again when that bright day dawned and power was restored, but he was having none of it. This is a kid who, when my car ran out of gas in a parking lot blocks from home, giggled his butt off for about an hour. I mean, this was his major form of transportation. The conveyance that obtained his Junior Bacon Cheeseburgers, and the only thing keeping his skinny hysterical butt from walking 3/4 of a mile home. But does he cry? Does he moan? No. He laughs at his father for the next hour. But one measly set of escalators. One out of maybe 10 in the building, mind you. One set that we see maybe once every 6 months and it's a tragedy of epic proportions. Someone must spring into action immediately to rectify this egregious offence against God and man. Riiiiiiight.
    So, despite this obvious evidence of the downfall of modern civilization, I just said, 'C'mon Dude, let's go.'  and calmly led him up the 'stairs'. Griping the whole way, he followed me, still mumbling about the blasphemy of walking  up a set of what should be moving stairs. Sometimes when we're in a public place Dave lags behind me 5 or 8 feet, so I'm constantly turning my head to check on him, so I saw what happened next, but was too far ahead to prevent it. As we were walking away from the escalator/stairs a man in a red sweatshirt walked past me to begin his non mechanically-assisted journey to the lower level. Dude intercepted him by stepping sideways to put his body between this... random guy in a red sweatshirt, and the top of the escalator. He placed his left hand on the man's left shoulder to fully stop him and gain his full attention. Dude then leaned in slightly, as if to impart some dire secret. 'You MUST fix the escalator!!' Dave practically yelled in his face, 'It's broke!' This guy's back was turned toward me, so I couldn't see the look on his face, but I did see him flinch back rather sharply. 'Dude!' I said flatly, 'C'mon man, let's go.' The guy (who will probably never take a broken escalator for granted again) gave me one startled look, and bolted down the 'stairs', and presumably, directly out the exit to find a land where people made sense, and escalators never broke down.
   Dave and I made our way out of the store. Thankfully the escalators top out only 20 feet away from the front doors. There may have been people staring at us the whole time... It wouldn't surprise me if there were, but honestly, I don't even notice things like that any more. We then walked across the mall to the food court to comply with our FFDP requirements. I was kind of in a hurry to get our dinners going because, A: I'm a large man, and require at least one meal a day, and I tend to skip the other two. B: I figured something with sauce and ketchup on it (hopefully not at the same time) would distract Dave from the tragedy we'd just been force to witness. and C: If we ate while Raine and Alayna were en-coiffure I wouldn't have to pay for their dinner. (long story, and inside joke) Well... none of it worked. Because, Dave never stopped complaining the whole time, and before I even got to pick a place to get food I got a phone call from Raine. It seems their appointment, meaning they didn't have one before we got there, wasn't for another hour and a half. So, figuring that 'B' and 'C' were already shot, I'd go extra hard at 'A' and told her I'd take everyone to Houlihan's, even though it wasn't Fast Food.
   Dave was still complaining about his lack of escalator action, so while we were waiting for the women to arrive, and to prove to him that there wasn't actually an epidemic wiping out all the moving stairways in the land, I took him around the corner and we, for no real reason, made a complete circuit of the escalator thus presented. This had apparently given him enough of a fix to get us through dinner and slightly beyond, but while the girls were attending their appointment Dude and I hit every escalator in the common area of the mall, up and down. We even had to ride the glass elevator before his equilibrium had been restored. After we stepped off and as a woman and her two small children were getting on, Dave, holding the doors, said brightly, 'It's okay, just step on. This elevator WORKS!' (Mr Otis would be so proud of him)
Also Fountain Operator
   All of the vertical transportation devices in the commons having been properly inspected, we could now leave the building. Thankfully Raine and Co. met us on the first floor so when we exited through Dick's we didn't have to reenact our entrance dilemma in reverse order, but somehow... And I don't remember actually agreeing to any of this... I had evidently promised David that we would find more elevators and escalators on the weekend. Presumably, Dude was just taking his newly self-appointed position as Public Elevator (escalator) Inspector very seriously.
   Two days later we went to the Phipps Conservatory (where these pictures were shot) even though they only had 2 elevators. I was checking with the teller that parking was indeed free, he informed me that was because of the holiday. 'Oh, cool.' I said, 'That's the same reason he (Dave) is with me...' I looked in vain for my son, '...uh I mean, with the elevators.'  Dave was peeking at me around the corner where the elevators were, waiting rather impatiently for the only thing in the whole flowery building he cared about. Later, in the Tropical Forest room, and the only other elevator in the building, he blocked a 5-6 year old and her family from entering 'our' elevator. 'Nope! Sorry, you'll have to wait for the next car!' he said briskly, and hit the button to shut the doors in her face. There was nothing I could do at the back of the car except say, 'Dave, you don't actually own the elevator, you know.' He just looked at me like I didn't know what the hell I was talking about.
     I think I could save on video games if I just had an elevator installed in our house. Maybe I'll just go with one of those StairClimber things instead.


  1. Oh, David....I so enjoy the "Life of Dude" How very simple and uncomplicated it is...If it's broke...fix it!!!
    Knowing you, as I do, it is so easy to SEE you in Dude's adventures..
    Thanks for another warm chuckle
    Mom #2

  2. You know, 'simple' doesn't necessarily mean easy! lol Dave's more of an 'I dropped the bomb and it went off.' kind of uncomplicated.... I'm glad you enjoy the stories. I enjoy both him and writing them very much. Thank you, #2 mom