Adventures in Autistic Parenthood

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

It's Just a Christmas Show:

 
    About 3 weeks before it actually happened, on the second to the last day of Dude's Thanksgiving vacation, I was sitting at my computer not paying much attention to anything when Dave came downstairs and stood behind me. I thought he was there to exchange the movie he'd been watching for a new one. Boy was I wrong. When he'd been standing behind me for a few moments I turned slightly, looked up and said, 'What's up, buddy?' He sort of looked at me and said, 'It's just the Christmas Talent Show, on December 18th! The school is open so all of the parents will be there. Parents are authorized to be at the New Horizon for the Talent show.' He put his hand on my shoulder and spoke softly. 'Are we going to be at the Talent Show at the school on December 18th?' He waited a beat, but I was laughing too hard to answer. 'I love you, Dad' He said in that soft butter-up voice he uses sometimes. 'I love you too, Dude' I managed to choke out. He was persistent, I'll give him that, 'Are we going to be at the Talent Show?' (Translation: Are you going to be at the talent show? Dave has a problem with pronouns). I shook my head, still laughing as I hugged his waist (I was still sitting down), 'Yes, David. We'll be going to the talent show.' 'Okay! Meet you at the Empire State Building on the 86th floor!'
     This is his latest Big Trip Ploy. Someone at school introduced him to a pamphlet about the Empire State Building. He was very excited when he brought it home and made a special effort to point out that the elevators went up to the 86th floor observatory. And that we should, at our (his) earliest convenience make our way to this paragon of tourist activity. Yeah... good luck with that, kid.
      Of course along with The Christmas Show, and plans of Empire State observatories, 'tis the season of Christmas Points. Something I had not considered is that decorating is the inaugural event of the Christmas season. Specifically the tree. Dave isn't concerned with the religious aspects of the holiday, the symbolism of the tree, or the ornaments. The twinkling lights are cool-ish and green is an okay color, but that doesn't enter into the equation either. The main and sole purpose of the tree is to provide a space and a center for the most important, or actually only reason for the holiday. Because
until that manufactured representation of a blue spruce pine is erected there is no place for presents. It is the visible representation of what he's accumulating all those (millions of) Christmas Points for.
     And once again, those Points are accumulating at an astonishing rate. One Monday (the first Christmas Points day of the week) Dave informed me that he had somehow managed to obtain 500 Christmas Points in that one day. I refrained from asking if the Christmas Points Police were going to be knocking at the door. Well we didn't get a visit from the CPP, but Dave decided how he wanted to cash in on the seething horde of Points he had... He wanted a new PS4. It's the same thing when he brings yet another $4.00 check for 2 weeks at BCRC and he decides he has enough to afford a PS4. I love my son... I really do, but plonking down nearly a week's pay for the 5th gaming system on his floor is something I have a bit of a problem with. Mostly because that just makes one more different system I'd have to buy games for...
    Two weeks before the show he gets a (mostly) random call from his mother. I've never been able or interested enough to determine how she schedules these calls. We talked briefly and then I handed the phone to Dude. After a very short exchange he asks, 'Are you ready to go to Vegas?' Which is pretty much standard fare with him. She replied with something, and I guess it must have been the wrong thing because he quickly said, 'Only Dad's can go to Vegas.' and while she was replying he hung up on her! I stood there stunned and automatically held my hand out for my phone as he handed it back. I looked at him for a second and said, 'Yeah. 'Cause Dad's are cool like that.' As I turned to head out of his room he asked me, 'Is Dad ready to go to Vegas?' (Okay Dad, how cool are you? Really. I looked my youngest son in the eye (I'm about the only one he'll make eye contact with) and said, 'We'll see.'  'Yes!' He crowed, 'He gets to go to the Vegas with the new games and the Christmas Points!' Uh.... yeah... Not sure you can trade them in for that.
    Slooooooowly we edged ever closer to the Show. One thing I didn't quite realize when I'd agreed to the whole thing is that the show would be during school hours. Yeah.... missed that when he said that, too. 'Parents are authorized to be at the New Horizons for the Talent Show'. I didn't initially understand that he meant that literally. Like most schools, to gain entry to NH you have to be authorized by someone in the office to enter. So parents would have to be authorized to enter to watch the show. And parents who weren't bright enough to pick up on the am start time would have to scramble to get permission from their employer to be at the show..... Yes... that would be me. Luckily for me my bosses are pretty indulgent when it comes to Dudestuff. They'd better be, because there's a lot of Dudestuff...
   The night before the Big Show, Dave lurked a bit more than usual. Actually, most of the time he leaves a vapor trail upstairs once dinner is done, but he waited and waited for me to notice that he was hovering. I may have made mention, at one time or another, that Dude is the Least Stealthy Being in the Universe. Going right along with that is his complete lack of unobtrusiveness. He could obtrusive for Gold at the Olympics and take the Bronze for Obvious. So, it wasn't his Ninja like skills (he doesn't have any) that kept me from acknowledging his skulking somewhat closer to me than the shirt that I was wearing. It was just pure Dude-Dad meanness. He finally edged so close to me we were practically in the same chair and said, 'Is he going to the New Horizons and the Talent Show?'
He twitched a half-step closer, which should have been physically impossible, 'Is he going to be there at 9:30, to watch the Talent Show? Parents are authorized to be at the school.' I looked at him and raised an eyebrow. 'It's only the Talent Show.' he said somewhat defensively. 'All parents are authorized to be at the school at 9:30 to watch the Christmas Show.'
    You can't tell the players without a program. Dave was actually trying to make sure that I was going to be at the Show. I put his fears to rest. 'Yes, David, I'll be going to the New Horizons to watch the Christmas Show.' (I've got to watch that. I'm starting to talk like him.) 'YES!!' He crowed. 'And after the Christmas show, we can go to the EMPIRE STATE BUILDING, and ride the elevators to the 86th floor observatory! With the Christmas Points!' My mind takes sudden left turns occasionally, which comes in handy when dealing with Dude. 'Just how many Christmas Points do you have?' He looked at me with a steady eye and in a firm voice said, 'FIVE BILLION Christmas Points!' That's 'Billion' with a 'B'. I was a bit stunned, to say the least. How could this dramatic escalation of Christmas Points have taken place without my noticing it? Dave did not wait for official validation of the Points, he just turned and went upstairs.
     I know my son is actually a Rock Star and I'm his chief Roadie, but I didn't understand that I was also his limo driver. Okay... I know I'm his limo driver, I just didn't realize fully what that meant. The morning of the Christmas show I woke David up to get ready for school. He was really excited. So excited that he was downstairs in record time. I wondered about that for a moment, looking at him sitting there in his coat, with his shoes and socks on. Then I looked a little closer and realized that he was still in his sleeping clothes! I sent him directly back to his room to change, and... once again when he came back down in his jeans but the wrong shirt. Once he was actually dressed for school he grabbed his 3DS and headphones and sat on the end of the couch. Just as if we were getting ready for a road trip. 'What are you doing?' I asked him, 'You can't take the System on the bus.' 'No bus today!' he returned firmly. 'Uh... what?' I reviewed my spotty knowledge of the notes that were sent home. There was no mention of me chauffeuring the 'Superstar' to his gig. 'You put that away, you're taking the bus to school!' I said firmly. He reluctantly put his game away, but by the time he'd turned he decided to take a different tack. 'Dad can drive him to the Christmas Show and as when it's over, to the Empire State Building and the elevators to the 86th floor!'
     So... let me get this straight. I'm supposed to let Dave hang around the house an extra hour, ditching school, and then limo him to the gig, and then once the show is over, pile him and his stuff into the car and drive 300+ miles to my least favorite city in the country and then take him up an elevator 86 floors just so he can record it? Yeah... Pretty sure that ain't happening... like, ever. He went to school on the bus. I'm sure he was very disappointed, but I'm the only Roadie he knows, so he's stuck with me.
   NH, as in most schools I've been to recently has a buzzer system to gain entry to the school itself. When I get to the school, there's a nice lady (whom I don't know) by the automatic doors letting people in and directing them to the office to sign in and get name tags. As Alexis and I walked toward the office a very frazzled looking Ashley came darting down the hall. 'Oh good, oh good, oh good, oh good, you're here!' I didn't know what was going on, but it was evidently.... good. 'I wasn't sure you'd be able to come.' When she'd first seen me at the Talent Show, she was paranoid about whether or not I'd remembered my camera, so I slid my camera sling around so that she could see that I had it without her having to ask. 'Oh good! You brought it!' Then she grinned like the pixie she resembled and started off while saying gleefully, 'You're gonna love this, he's gonna be soooo good!' As I watched her leave, I thought that at least it wasn't the 'You're gonna be so proud!' thing I got from everyone at the Talent Show.
     Alexis and I waiting in line in the office to sign in and get our name tags, and I told her that Dude had already made me such a known man in that school, that I didn't need a name tag. She thought I was just joking until we had reached the front of the line, and the secretary already had my name on a sticker and was trying to hand it to me before I'd even signed the book. She, on the other hand, had to tell her her name twice and wait for the known person behind her to get his before she got her sticker. To further prove my point, 3 more people stopped me in the hallway, calling me by name (I had almost no idea who they were) to tell me 'He's going to be soooo good!' Do they get together to choose 'The Phrase of the Dudes' every morning, or what? The five or so other people that I stopped and talked to before the show all said the exact same thing, including the guy I'd startled the crap out of at the Talent show by yelling at David, was seated in front of us again, and once again he'd parroted the 'He's going to be soooo good!' line of the day. These people know their lines. I'm starting to have 'Truman' moments, you know, where I look for the cameras hidden wherever I go.
     Once again we were waiting in the cafeteria spaces for the show to start, and again, we were
trudging through cute kids doing cute things waiting for the Star of the Show to make his appearance. Only this time the show wasn't quite as polished, and we didn't have any programs. But, like I said, the kids were cute, so we didn't mind waiting all that much. As the show went on I suspected more and more that Jill Mosura, a big fan of the Dudeness, had put David in the final act of the show. So in Roadie parlance he was the 'Headliner' or main act of the show. I shook my head and told Alexis my suspicions, adding, 'He's going to be impossible to live with now.' Which was a lie... he's always been impossible to live with.
     Sure enough, the very last act of the show saw my youngest child walk downstage center, with a spotlight and a mic of his very own just like the Rock Star that he is and a chorus of about 20 behind him. The music started and he began singing 'So This is Christmas' and everyone went 'Awwwww!'. And I agreed, it was soooo good, just like everyone told me it was. Now at the end of that particular
John Lennon song, the refrain is repeated several times with a pause between each one. During that first pause Dave yelled into the microphone, 'Okay! Now everybody sing it!' and went on to repeat the refrain. I think that thing repeats 5 or 6 times and between each one Dude tried to encourage the audience to sing along, waving his arms and shouting, 'Okay now, one more time!' Which was cute... even after he'd done it for the third time. I was laughing so much I couldn't even take pictures of his wild gestures to the crowd. Once again he made his triumphal march down the center aisle (I'm not sure if this one was planned) accepting his accolades and high-fiving the crowd as he went. Throughout the entire show Dave had tracked me and my camera as we roamed the crowd shooting pictures. So he made a beeline toward me as soon as he shook off his fans. We hugged (which he very rarely volunteers to do) and I was telling him what a good job he'd done when he said, 'Yes! It's after the Christmas Show, is he ready to go to the Empire State and the elevators to the 86th floor and the Observatory?' So he wasn't hugging his Dad, just his chauffeur/roadie.
     After he moved on to his dressing room (you know, the one with the big star on it) I made my way through the edge of the crowd to see Jill and tell her what a great job she'd done. On the way I was
stopped 3 or 5 times by aides and teachers so they could express their delight in David's performance. I may have muttered 'hambone' a few more times than was strictly necessary, but I made sure they knew I appreciated their appreciation. Before I'd made it to Jill, Ashley stopped me and started (at high speed) telling me how wonderful she thought Dave had done, and how great it was that she finally got to work with him again in a classroom. She was using up so much of the available oxygen all I could do was smile and nod. She stopped suddenly after she'd said, 'I can't believe this is his last year....' She looked up at me, mournfully, and said 'This is his last year!.... what am I going to do next year?' She repeated several variations of this, and her eyes started to well up as she stared off into space. Honestly, I was a bit unnerved. I hurriedly, if flippantly told her that I'd randomly waylay a bus and send him to school occasionally. She smiled and chuckled, and then we moved apart.
    I finally made it to Jill and gave her a big hug, thanking her and telling her what a wonderful job so much! I don't know what I'm going to do without him.' I was flattered for his sake, really flabbergasted. I've been hearing variations on this all year.
she had done. She hugged back and thanked me for showing up and almost crowed about how wonderful Dave was. I couldn't argue with her... he had been wonderful. She was concerned about the lack of polish in the show. I was quick to reassure her that the show was for the kids and the adults would just have to take what they could get. Besides, I told her, it was a cute show! Jill also took this time to confess something. It seems she had recently made a trip to New York and had given Dude the pamphlet for the Empire State building!  She was the reason Dave had been bugging me for weeks about going to the 86th floor Observatory! I was almost too stunned to speak. She then immediately wanted to talk about David singing during the Graduation ceremony. She mentioned several songs she was considering and I noticed they all had one thing in common... They were Beatles songs. I'm not sure what it means that Jill seems to always want Dude to sing Beatles tunes, but I have noticed it. Jill then got a conspiratorial look in her eye and leaned in and said, 'I know I'm not supposed to do this, but in 14 years of teaching David is, hands down, my favorite kid' That was not the first time she'd said something similar, but coming right after was, 'I'm going to miss him very much!' I immediately shelved whatever complaint I might have about the New York Plan.
     I want to put this right out in front: I love my son! I really do. But he's a tremendous pain in the butt. He really is. I think about all the thousands of kids that have been through that school in the last 12 years, the hundreds that each of these professional teachers have had to deal with, all the problems and trials and tribulations, the notes and meetings and genuine trouble that my son has been and still these women are genuinely
going to be sad when he's gone. To the point of catching breath and watering eyes. While parental pride would have me certain that my son is indeed special (and he is) these people feel bad about every one of  'their kids' that leaves. Seriously. If they could keep them all, I know they would.
     I know for a certain fact that a large percentage of them have offered to take home/steal/adopt David at every opportunity. It's given Alexis and I an idea that we worked on as we headed back out to the car. We'll rent Dave out over the next year or so to build up interest and accentuate the DudeCraving and then we'll take him off the Market for several weeks to build up the Craving, and then we're going to auction him off to the highest bidder. We figure we'll make a bundle and eventually they'll bring him back and possibly even pay us to take him back! We'll make a killing!
     Okay.... calm down. We all know better than that. Anyone who's been around here knows that I don't know what to do with myself when Dave's gone... I guess I'll just keep him and we'll go visit every once in a while.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Helicopter Parent:

     A bit of a rant. It was bound to happen sooner or later.
    One day I got a phone call from a number that I didn't recognize. Like most people I know, I just let it go to see if they would leave a message. They did, so I figured it was someone I knew. When I listened to the VM I became confused all over again. The message was from my ex-Brother in Law and he asked me to call my ex-Father in Law and gave me a number. I was pretty sure if something had happened to what's-her-name I'd have been contacted by someone with a bad tie and a shiny badge, since I would be high on the suspect list. I was also wondering about the double-blind James Bond, Superspy contact routine, so I called Les, wondering what the hell it could be.
     I finally got a hold of him to ask what was going on. I haven't consistently  kept track of Les and Imogene over the last 14 years, but we do talk and we've never had any problems. There were times when they seemed to get along better with me than with their own daughter. We're not friends, but we're friendly. We talked for a while, exchanging pleasantries, then we finally got to the point. He was very apologetic about it, but he requested that I not say bad things about Ellie in my blog and on FaceBook. I quickly reviewed the last few comments I'd made about the Psycho Redhead and didn't come up with anything, so I told Les I didn't know what he was talking about.
     It seems that she had found out about my blog through some of her relatives that I regularly notify, and had taken offense at something I'd written. Like... all of it, I guess. He didn't know any particulars, but for some reason it had prompted my ex-wife to harangue her mother about all sorts of things, all which boiled down to the fact that Imogene didn't immediately buy a voodoo doll with my face and start sticking pins in it, or burn it in effigy after the divorce. I had no idea how she thought this was going to deter me from mentioning her in my blog (which is all I do, most of the time). I told Les that I was sorry they were catching hell, but I thought I'd been pretty mild about the whole thing and, since I only randomly mentioned her anyway, I probably wouldn't change much. He said he understood, and to do what I could, and after a little more catch-up we each went about the rest of our day.
     Even though I wasn't the one that raised the psychotic bitch that actually caused the problem, I like Les, and I felt kind of bad about him catching third-hand hell stemming from something I'd written.  I  was also kind of curious about what I might have said that set her off. I'll admit it was at least partly due to possibly wanting to do it again. Like Richard Pryor in Stir Crazy I was looking for that one word that would set the bull off. Anyway, I reviewed the blog and re-read some of the stories. I did mention things that happened several times. But, other than a few mentions, I really haven't let my feelings about her known to the Blogisphere. Even though the first sentence in the paragraph may give it away, I'm sure it was a secret before that. No. Really... top secret stuff.
     She'll probably never get it, but it isn't about her. Ever since she said, 'What about me having a life?' she pretty much lost any of the privileges that go along with Dudedom. That seems to be the biggest thing she doesn't grasp. To expect that we're going to slog through the everyday crap and be happy when she skims the cream whenever it suits her to do so, borders on insane. Of course she's at the far border of insane, so whatever is beyond insane she's almost there. I mean, why does she even care what I say? We've been divorced for 15 years and living 1000 miles away from each other for almost all of that time. She didn't seem to care what I said when we were married, but now she's all insulted by some stuff I wrote in a blog that about 100 people read. I think the time would be better spent asking me questions about our son. But that's just me.
   Case in point:For the second time in 12 years, Ellie showed up this year for Thanksgiving with a
minimum of communication. Okay, no problem. Knew she was coming, didn't know what day, what time, what flight. Also, no problem. She called Wednesday night and let me know they were in, and we discussed what time we'd meet for the Great Dude Hand-off. And that's it. I don't really care most of the time if she likes to feel that she's in charge because the reality is, she really doesn't even get to vote. So when we met the next day I just left Dave in the car and went to talk to her first. We established where they were staying, how long they were going to have Dude and when and where we would meet for the Dude Recovery Phase. That done, I waved David out of the car. He was very happy to see her, and she seemed the same. I gave them some info, a charger, a little advice, and when there were no questions, got the hell out of there.
     The next evening found me in the same parking lot, (nearly in the same slot) and a reverse of the day before with Dave being very happy to see me and giving me hugs. I waited for her to say her goodbyes, explained that there might be a Dude Roadtrip sometime in the future and I would contact her should that happen so she and Dude could get together, even though I had no obligation to do so. Her husband thanked me and she said, 'That would be nice.' in a polite, but skeptical tone. I assured her that we had never been back to the Homeland without contacting her. She looked like she would rather argue the point than thank me for the gesture. Rather than play 'The Justification Game' by reassuring her further I just turned to Dude and said, 'C'mon Dude, let's go home!' 'Yes!' was the quick reply 'He has to go to home and play the Games!' And so, without a backward glance, we did just that.
     And, just like that, we got on with our Dudeness like she was never there. One the way home I called the hacienda to gauge dinner preferences and, with almost rookie carelessness mentioned out loud the word 'McDonald's'. From the passenger side of the vehicle came a soft, 'I could use some McDonald's' I said into the phone wryly, 'I guess we're going to McDonald's'. 'Yes! With the chicken nuggets and the ranch'. And that pretty much ended any debate on what we were having for dinner. So situation normal. The radar blip that is occasionally Ellie put into the rear view of our lives and fading fast behind us until the next time she 'blips' up.
     Here's the difference and the problem. I have three older children from a previous marriage. Through geographical differences there was a number of years when I was unable to be around them as much as I wanted. I did what I could, when I could and never thought it was enough. I never tried to act like it was enough either. I let them all know that I knew just exactly who was doing all the raising where they were concerned. And, therefore, who was still in charge even when I was around. I didn't feel I had the 'chops'. I hadn't put in the time to throw my weight around, as it were.
     I know it's only my opinion, not a natural law or anything, but that's exactly how I feel about Ellie. I have no jealousy about the fact that David always seems to get excited to see her. He lives in the eternal 'now' where bad things just don't accumulate. I just don't think she's earned it. She certainly hasn't earned the right to tell me what to do where Dave is concerned. It baffles me that time after
time she's set him aside, put herself first, abandoned him, whined and winged her way out of any of the inconvenient obligations where her son is concerned and she still wants to drop in and drive the team like some sort of out of town parenting consultant. I know I'm an easy going guy, but that's pushing it a bit far.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Norman Rockwell Never Met My Son:

   
 It's nearing the Holiday season again, and while I have some extra time this year (Alayna's taking over Thanksgiving this time) I find myself reminiscing about Holidays past.
     Somewhere there are Christmases that look exactly like Rockwell's Saturday Evening Post cover. Family all gathered around a table. All smiles and gleaming faces, looking as if presents were the furthest thing on their mind. Just happy to be in the circle of their family's love... We've never even met any of these people.
   Minor case in point; Our tree is nearly nude for the first two feet from the floor. There are no dangly ornaments hanging from the lower branches, no delicate stars or glass bulbs, no tinsel or popcorn strings grace the bottom two layers of our artificial pine. Only solid, sturdy, well secured decorations (you know, the 'ugly' ones) are brave enough to fly at the lower altitudes. It's not Dude's tendency to root under the lower branches with alarming regularity and appalling lack of concern for consequences that causes this. Dexter, our resident mountain lion, refuses to admit that he's no longer an 18 ounce ball of fluff instead of the 15 pound rampaging predator that he's become. He doesn't climb the tree when we're home, although I have had the crap startled out of me when I came home unexpectedly and found an ornament that looked suspiciously like my cat's head peering at me from out of the false pine needles. He has no shame, however, in batting at any 'interesting' ornament any time that strikes his fancy. So we make a concession to the eccentricities of a member of the house, and the bottom branches stay lonely and under the couch is periodically swept for ornaments. The addition of roasted feline to the Holiday Menu is only (mostly) mentioned in jest.
   El Gato Diablo (The Cat Devil) is not the only threat to our Sacred Tannenbaum. I think my son has landshark DNA. I mean it. The kid who only comes downstairs under threat of imminent dehydration or possible cheese assault, spends the last 3 weeks before Christmas circling the tree like a Great White around a whale carcass at ever decreasing intervals until he's nearly constantly downstairs and has to be threatened with grievous bodily harm (also at decreasing intervals and increasing intensity) to get him out of the room. But like a mosquito when you're trying to get to sleep that won't quit coming back with that sonic whine that keeps fading in and out, every time we thought we could get back to whatever it was that we were doing (watching hockey) he'd traipse through the space between the ottoman and the TV. (Also, incidentally, between us and the TV) He'd circle the tree for the umpteenth time and start saying 'He's getting the Pokemon 'X' Version for Christmas!' Or; 'He's got the Christmas points to get the games!'
    And so we would stumble on towards the Big Day, pretty much as we always do, trying to hide the (hopefully) cool gifts from each other, shooing Dave and the cat away from the tree, re-setting any
wayward decorations that happen to have been mysteriously displaced and plotting the demise of the smoked ham my company gives me before every Christmas.
    Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is pretty much a non-holiday for Dude. Other than the extra days off and the predominance of things covered with tasty sauces and gravies, he could mostly care less. Everyone else takes the rest of the day as a time to visit with family, argue about how crappy the Lions played, and why do they always get the T-game? David is above it all. He wanders through the room occasionally to get a drink of water, or molest the cat as he meanders. Oh, he says he's all about the holiday, but I think he's just all about the mashed potatoes... Oh, that and Thanksgiving heralds the start of the Christmas points season. The most important season of them all.
     Just for a lark I once asked him, 'How many Christmas Points do you have, anyway?' He quickly (and very enthusiastically) replied, Two hundred forty three thousand and seventy eight!' I was stunned at the precision of this rather large number. Since I was in charge of Christmas Point distribution and did not remember that many slipping through my fingers I asked, 'Who have you been stealing Christmas Points from?' His reply was, shall we say...snippy. 'NO! ALL the Christmas Points are mine!!' By his tone and the amount he had expressed I had to assume that by 'ALL' Christmas points he meant every Christmas Point available to every child in the Free World to date. And I'm sure interest on all these points was accruing daily at roughly the same speed at which my bank account was draining. As I sat trying to translate such a huge number of points into an actual dollar amount, Dude happily spun and trundled back up the stairs to calculate how much his hoard of games and movies would be increased. Since his totals seemed to be spinning up like a gas pump filling a Hummer there seemed to be no limit to the increase. (at least in his mind)
     Now the only thing New Years means to Dude is that he only has 1 or 2 more days before he has to go back to prison... uh...school, I mean. He spends New Years Eve and day cramming as much game and video goodness into his system as he can stand. He does like watching the ball drop, but he doesn't make it a point to be there to see it. One year he did come down to tell us about the fireworks that a neighbor was shooting off. 'What is all that noise? He heard bombs going off!' But once we pointed out the window and he saw the fireworks he was over it and went back upstairs. Mystery solved, Dad. I need to get back to saving the world, one Megabyte at a time. Evidently if there wasn't actually a full on incursion of mercenaries, he couldn't be bothered.
   It goes without saying that MLK day, Easter, Memorial Day and Labor Day only have significance as it pertains to an extra day of weekend gaming. Snow Days are just as revered in his mind, and for the same reason. He is sometimes almost impressed with Independence Day...but once the explosions are over it's just a day that Dad is home to mess up his perfect gaming Summer.
    To Dude, the real Holidays are his Birthday, when he gets to go to State Special Olympics and when he and I go back to the Midwest. (But only when it involves a plane ride or a hotel stay) Included in that would be anytime he gets to ride new elevators or when, like recently, I have to replace one of his gaming systems. Times like that he's not sure that the banks are going to be open. is a National Holiday, isn't it?
   I have to admit. We don't do the whole 'Over the Top' Holiday thing. We do the Christmas decorating, but we're more interested in our decorations than what the whole neighborhood can see. Thanksgiving is more about me making way too much food for the few people we invite over. So mostly it's just like a regular meal with more food and a few extra people. It's not the 'Gather a small village worth of people from the far corners of the Earth and feed them like fieldhands' kind of a thing I had growing up with my enormous family.
     All in all Dave is pretty cool with that. Paring the Holidays down to their essential basics... Food and Stuff for David. What else could the Holidays be for?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Sound and the Fury:


       People sometimes ask me, 'Isn't raising David more difficult than you thought it would be?' I, of course, have to answer 'Yes, but I'm more difficult than he thought I would be, so it evens out.' I suppose that my stumble through plan of making life choices has led to this any number of times. I guess I really started my training when I was a Freshman in High School.
   Toward the last third of the school year Maur Hill would have what was kind of laughingly called the 'Senior Play'. I say 'laughingly' because the seniors, for the most part, seem to have better things to do with their waning time in school than spend endless hours in a theater practicing for a play. I can't imagine what they'd rather be doing with their last few weeks of fairly unsupervised under-adult time. (that's a lie. I know exactly what they'd rather be doing). At any rate, the other classes tended to outnumber the seniors by about 3 to 1. And, since Theater Geek is actually one word in the high school vocabulary they're always looking for more audience victims... uh, actors for their plays.
     So what I was doing was minding my own business, just trying to get out of the building before anyone noticed I was leaving. I passed the theater doors and I saw a notice for auditions for Inherit the Wind, and recognizing the name of the director from an education program I'd participated in before my IQ/psych exam determined that; No, I wasn't an idiot, I was an antisocial underachiever and bored to tears by school, long before Bart Simpson made that cool. I decided to slip in and say hello' to Stacy (the director) and check out the whole audition... thing, in a completely non-participatory kind of way. But what I didn't count on was, A: While she remembered that she knew me, she had no idea from where or when, even though it had been less than a year ago. and B:The fact that friendly people can talk me into almost anything. So, you got it, I ended up auditioning. With strict instructions to her that I would only accept a minor, perhaps even non-speaking role. Best case scenario; A character with no lines that dies off stage before the first curtain.
     You have to understand, this was before I realized that the strange things that happened to me weren't aberrations, they were just the beginnings of a lifetime of the slightly bizarre as the living embodiment of the 'Chinese Curse'. So, instead of just talking for a bit with someone I kind of knew, or cruising through a nothing part and having to point out to family members where to look for me onstage, I got the lead... and so much more. It was work. It was a LOT of work. In addition to my regular school work, there were late night rehearsals, contentious cast members, and loads of extra time with Stacy and Dipshit the Self-Righteous (the idiot co-lead) to work on lines and characterization. If that weren't enough I was also helping out with set, props, lighting and publicity. Because just doing one thing you have no idea about just isn't enough for some people, they need five or six things they have no clue about. Yes... that would be me.
    That's pretty much the same with Dude. 'Let's have a baby' or at least 'Let's have some Sweaty Naked Fun Time' has so far turned into 20 years of nearly constant wonder and aggravation. Sometimes equal measures of both.
  I work in a steel fabrication shop with hammers, air-impact wrenches, train horns, industrial
equipment, sledge hammers striking steel, the shrieking of metal as it's being cut in the saw and sometimes, something large, heavy and metallic striking the floor. It's basically louder than Quasimodo's bell tower. I leave all that to the rushing of air past my ears at 70 mph to get home. When I get home I have 10 minutes with the house to myself, no TV or stereo, just me and the (mostly quiet) cat. It's quiet enough that the electric clock in the next room is sometimes annoyingly loud.Then for the next hour and a half  after that, I'm directly below 'Game Central'. I've long ago learned how to tune the babble, bangs, yells, twitters, tweets, bings and bongs into background noise. But every once in a while something happens that tweaks me out of my 'anti-Dudenoise' Zen.
     The other day I was sitting at my computer goofing off when a loud buzzing sound vibrated through the floor directly above my head. It was LOUD. It startled me, but I resolved not to find out what the hell it was. I had recently seen a vid that someone had posted to FaceBook that involved a vibrator flying through the air (please don't ask) and that's the first thing that came to mind. (Because it's my mind and it doesn't work like a regular one) Couple of things wrong with that snap-theory: Firstly, it would be just.... weird and creepy and make me go Eeeeeeeew!. Secondly I'm the one that gets the mail, and I'd have noticed if he'd gotten a narrow, plain brown wrapper package, and I'd have remembered. Even so, I wasn't brave enough to go up and actually find out what was making the noise. It happened again when we happened to have a movie paused and Alexis reminded me that his game controller has a vibrating function and he leaves it on the floor sometimes because he likes to watch it vibrate across the floor. And we already know he likes freaking me out. So, there you go.
     One other time I was coming out of the bathroom, muttering to myself about forgetting something and then I heard this from behind Dude's closed door. 'You know what we're going to do now? We're going to put you on the bus, and that bus is going to take you to the place. Then you're going to get out of that bus and we're going to put you up against that wall... And then we're going to BLOW YOUR BRAINS OUT! You understand?' ......... I said softly, 'Damn Dude. That's a bit harsh just for forgetting your watch in the bedroom.' I looked around for any bus-driver looking people ready to whisk me away. 'Well, I won't be doing that again, that's for damned sure.' I muttered as I went in the bedroom for my watch. Thankfully the Death Squad didn't know where my room was and I was spared.
My jersey, not his.
   Once again in the upstairs hallway, Dave was getting dressed to go shopping with me but had left his sleeping shirt on with the rest of the clothes that I had laid out for him. I immediately sent him back into his room to change his shirt to the one I'd laid out. It was a hockey jersey style shirt with a 'Rotten Rebels' logo. As he closed the door (he always closes the door) I heard him yell, 'Yes! We're going to play hockey in my room!' As I turned away to go downstairs I said, 'Well, that certainly explains some of the racket coming out of your room.
   Even the simple act of going through a door can become a major drama. 'No! Wrong door! Exit only!' Which, I will admit, is advice I've actually needed more than once. But you can't explain anything to him. The sign on the other doors saying, 'Please use other doors after ____ o'clock.' Means nothing to him. He doesn't care that you forgot a cart and it's a 32 mile walk around to the correct door. 'Exit only. When you see this sign, it means that this door is only to be used for exiting the building.' Thank you, Captain obvious, but using means I don't have to hire a native guide to get around the 600 people in line and then mount an arctic expedition to get to the car in the parking lot.
     So... More difficult? Yes. In ways that I never could nor even now predict. But also, incredibly rewarding in ways that I never could have predicted as well. So... like I said, it kind of evens out.

Friday, October 10, 2014

It's Not Worry... It's Love:

   
Recently Dude and I went to a Burger King to pick us up some fish sandwiches and stuff on our way home. While we were waiting on ONE of us to make up his mind (yes... that would be me) about what he wanted for dinner Dave started babbling (no! Really?) and in the middle of a bunch of stuff I didn't really understand he admonished the small man behind the counter, 'He needs to get the systems all packed up to go to the Vegas! And soon!' The guy looked a bit startled (a common reaction) and then just a bit uncomfortable (also, fairly common) I was just ready to file him in the 'Ignorant-But vaguely useful' category when Dude switched gears and ordered a Mountain Dew! 'Dude,' I said dryly, 'You are the second to the last person in the world who would ever need a Mountain Dew, and the LAST one that I would ever buy one for!' David grumped (not too much) away a bit and I turned to choose the food that I would actually take home with us, which did NOT include any over-caffeinated citrus sodas.
     When Dave gets going I have to nearly continuously calm him down and bring him back over next to me. Which, in this case, was taking the 'Fast' straight out of the whole 'Fast Food' thing. Jerry, or
whatever the heck his name was, behind the counter was very patient, which got him upgraded to the 'Ignorant, but useful' category. So, things were looking up for Jerry. He didn't seem impressed with the promotion though. Just as I was about to begin the ordering process again Dude broke in with, 'He's going to Vegas!' Maybe-Jerry once again looked a bit startled, and started to say something when Dave proved that he wasn't done yet (20 years and still going strong, take THAT Energizer Bunny!), 'You wanna go to the Vegas and see the Casinos?' I could tell that Jerry was caught in the  'being nice to the customer and saying something rude' quandary, so I tried to bail him out. 'He's obsessed with Vegas for some reason. He invites about 20 people a day to go with him.' Once again there was a loud noise emanating from just over my shoulder, 'Yes! He gets to go with us to the Vegas! And take videos of ALL the elevators!' And then he wandered over to the fountain drink dispenser, probably to check out supplies for the trip. 'Vegas is the BEST!'
     Jerry was studying Dude thoughtfully. I tried to reassure him, 'I don't think he actually expects
everyone he invites to actually go.' Jerry looked at me, 'I hope not. Vegas sucks.... I grew up there.' I started laughing. 'Yeah, I've been there a couple of times, I can imagine that stuff gets old pretty quick.' I was pretty sure that David hadn't heard this exchange when he appeared at my shoulder again (I liked it better when he was shorter and couldn't speak directly into my ear) 'It's only the Casinos!' Which is what he says when someone seems to be less than thrilled with being included into the whole 'Sin City Casino Elevator Excursion' crowd. Jerry was definitely looking less than thrilled.
      Despite our wanna-be travel agent, Jerry and I eventually worked together to get our immediate supply problems worked out and, with bags in hand, David and I started for the exit. I did my usual, 'Take care.' valediction and Dude started a new, but already traditional farewell, 'See you in Vegas in 2015!' I just kept walking through the first set of doors, shaking my head. I was surprised when I reached the second door, as there was no skinny, loud doorman to shove me peremptorily out of his way to open the door ahead of me. He had turned back to stick his head back into the dining/ordering area to shout out, 'Okay! See you later! You have to get the Game Disks all packed and ready to go!' 'David, let's go.' Because, you know, we already had a 10 minute drive to let the food get cold, and there was no need to add to it. Dave took one step in my direction, then realized he'd forgotten to give
Jerry an instruction and whipped around and opened the door again. 'He has to get the systems in the boxes, to get to the Vegas!' Jerry, fully indoctrinated by this point, just laughed and waved as Dude followed me outside (finally)
  As we were walking across the parking lot to the car Dave, obviously excited to have added another member to his growing 'Vegas Posse' called out, 'He's going to go with us to the Vegas in the 2015! He's a winner, already!' I just shook my head, doubting that Jerry would be going to his hometown, with or without us (especially with), and said, 'I guess he is, Dude.'
   Keeping with the food theme, I'm the main cook in our house. I learned to cook from my mother when I was a teenager and I'm well aware that the student is nowhere near to surpassing the teacher, but I want it stated for the record that no one has yet died from eating my cooking. At least officially. David's idea of 'haute cuisine' is virtually anything that comes with sauce, cheese or ranch dressing but he does sometimes let me know when I've done it 'right'. Normally on something I've cooked him seven thousand times before. With Dave it's never, 'Oh! I was just thinking about this, what a coincidence!' But I do get, 'Excellent dinner choice, Dad!' Which amounts to pretty much the same thing.
     There's one dish that I serve semi-regularly that I basically stole from my mother. It's a hamburger-green bean casserole, and since it has mashed potatoes and it's topped with melted cheese Dave pretty much will eat as much of it as anyone will give him. (I tell him frequently that he's lucky I learned from a woman who was cooking for 7 people) Raine also loves this stuff, but she also chose me, so take that as you will. Anyway, I was on Facebook the other day when I saw something that my sister, Patricia posted. It was a casserole with almost the exact same ingredients, save one. Hers used tater tots instead of mashed taters, and inverted the potatoes and the cheese so that you didn't have to spread the cheese on top of a lava-hot dish and then stuff it back in the oven. I thought, hey... I can do that. And so it was to be.
     After consulting with my sister for some of the finer details I made the stuff for dinner one evening. After a comment about tater tots in his dinner and two very generous portions of casserole  Dave went about his business without much further indication that he enjoyed it any more than any other meal that he liked. Alexis sometimes gets home later than we eat, so she was just heating her dinner when Dude came back down for something to drink. I was told later that he was distressed that the leftovers hadn't made their way into the refrigerator. 'He has to put the dinner in the bowl in the refrigerator, so he can have it for the lunch!' Despite the fact that he doesn't take lunches to school. Hearing this, however, I decided to break one of my long-standing, but arbitrary rules about serving the same meal two days in a row. (this only counts for leftovers) So, the next night David was pleased to see all of the remaining Enhanced Hamburger Casserole on his plate for his evening meal. As he was munching merrily away Raine and I were talking in the kitchen when I mentioned that he had been worried about the state of the leftovers the night before when, from out of the dining room there came a soft (for once) voice that said, 'No. It wasn't worry. It was LOVE!' Raine and I looked at each other in shock, then put on our impressed faces, nodded to each other and whispered portentously, 'It was looooooove!' And then totally blew the whole, 'reserved parent' thing and broke out laughing.
     Well, I guess, since it's looooooooove I'll have to add it to the regular menu.....

Friday, September 12, 2014

Lord Dude:

I wonder if he knows he's just holding Dude's place?
      Dave sometimes... well, almost all the time, treats the rest of us like servants at his Lordly estate (I know the bill, at least is in my name), ordering those not fortunate enough to be Dude to do those things that are beneath The Dudeness. The other day Dave and I had ridden the bike to the store/bank and picked up some things. I timed it (sort of) to coincide with Raine getting off work so we could get some things that normally I wouldn't take the bike to go and get. I thought I had the timing all worked out so that we would be done and in the parking lot about the time that Raine would get there.(foolish boy) Dave and I were walking out the door just as Raine was pulling in our driveway at home. That's when I learned a valuable lesson about waiting for a confirmation text before setting off on one of my 'well timed' missions. Maybe we should have synchronized watches or something. Raine hadn't checked her phone before she started for home. Wars have been lost for less than that! (that may be a slight exaggeration)
     Let me tell you something. There's nothing that will get you funny looks more than sitting in a grocery store parking lot with a full cart of groceries in the same stall as your motorcycle. And I'll tell you something else; Having a passenger along with your cart of groceries doesn't exactly help people understand what the hell is going on either. But eventually, your girlfriend will show up and as your autistic son (as a random example) sits in the backseat he will say, 'Take me to (LOUDLY insert full address here), and step on it!' At that point you could A: Murder your offspring in front of 409 witnesses, or B: you might as well invite everyone in the parking lot to a barbecue, because they already know the address, and you won't have to print up fliers.
     As if Dude wasn't feeling lordly enough, almost a week later Alexis invited me to drive her to the Renaissance Festival just south of Pittsburgh. Dave got very excited about going to the RenFest. He had absolutely no clue as to what a RenFest was, or what you did when you were there, but he was enthusiastic about it anyway.
 And if I just happened to get some tickets and wander the fest, that would be cool too.
     The day of the Fest, Raine was fighting a cold, so it was just Dude, Alex and I that braved the chancy weather and made our way to the Land of Medieval Merchandise. After about an hours drive and almost exactly 1/2 mile before the exit it started raining. It was just about at this point that I remembered the 7 umbrellas that we own... 36 miles away at my house. It was a nice, gentle rain... right up to the point where we were halfway between the car and the front gate. Then it lost most of its 'gentleness'. We secured our tickets and immediately headed directly back to the car to secure some more modern version of lunch. Or at least something a bit less soggy.
      RenFests are fun events and they're held all over the country, but not everyone goes, so let me explain a couple of things: Once Theater majors graduate college with their degrees and then find out that only about 11% of them actually get jobs in their field, they need something to do with all that unfulfilled 'theater-ness'. Odds are, that at least one of them has access to a large parcel of undeveloped land (probably owned by an older theater major) and they've all done the bake-sale/carnival fundraising thing any number of times while pursuing their dreams of stage glory.  It's guaranteed that every one of them has read every Tolkien book ever invented, and seen every one of those Johnny Depp pirate movies at least 29 times a piece. They quickly find out that many people will pay actual money to wander around in this atmosphere and so they come back every year to the same place to do it again. So RenFests are basically County Faires with style. Also with historical and fantasy based merchandising.
   When we got back the weather was much more well behaved so we started wandering around the place. We stopped briefly at the Jousting Arena to watch the preliminary phase of the main joust. This consisted of two guys in armour wandering around the lists shouting Elizabethan insults at each other. Dave liked the knights and was fascinated by the horses, but since nothing actually happened he was more than ready to move on once the shouting had stopped. Now when at a fair or a new mall or even a garage sale, I like to wander the whole thing at least once before I actually buy any of the things or participate in any of the activities. Dude was not hip to my style. He was ready to plunge right in and start riding the rides and playing the games, so right away we had a little bit of a problem.
    It's no secret that for all my hard-ass, toe-the-line attitude about keeping Dave 'in line' (yeah, good luck with that, sport), sometimes, and at random intervals, I turn into a giant marshmallow man. So when David started gushing and getting all carried away in the booth with the dragon paintings it should come as no surprise that after 20 minutes of saying, 'Be careful.', 'Leave that alone!', and 'Don't touch that!', that as we were walking out and Dude was taking one last look at a display of carded prints, his big, mean, repressive father said, 'Pick one.' and bought the damned thing before we walked out.
     How could I not? He was soooo excited about the prints. 'Oh, look! Dragons!'  'Dragons are
sooooo cool!', and 'We can get the Dragons and put him on the wall of his room!' I just couldn't resist something new and non game-related that he got that excited about. Besides, he picked the cool looking purple one.
     Shortly after our dragon purchase, as we were wandering slowly waiting on Alex to get finished in the Uncommon Scents store we watched a juggler for a while, but since he didn't even singe himself a little bit Dude's interest waned quickly. So we walked some more because Alex wasn't done yet. I don't think she's all that interested in scents, but there was a nice looking person trying to sell them to her, so that might have had something to do with it. Whatever the reason, David and I walked away and started exploring on our own.
     Just as we reached the Carrilon (an enormous musical instrument with bells) it started to sprinkle. Dave said, 'Oh no! Not again!' (He was to say this several times this day) So I didn't get a picture of the 4 ton (yes, 8000 pounds) instrument that was making those wonderful sounds that drew me there. We ended up standing under a copse of trees for a while as the rain was only slightly stronger than a sprinkle, but when the lightning flashed and it started to get more intense we ducked into a small-ish tent with more prints and a nice older lady/artist. When we got there, there were only a few people in her modest tent. But that didn't last long. Soon there were about 20 people in a tent rated for 4 and that was without her wonderful art in it. Dave and crowded places don't go together very well. He doesn't mind them so much, it's just that he can't be bothered with whomever he happens to bump into/knock down, so he takes a bit more watching.
Eventually the rain let up and we actually made the entire circuit of the Fest before we ran into Alex again. She was actually looking for the pirate bar when she stumbled over the Least Stealthy Being in the Universe... and his chauffeur. We found the bar, gave her to the pirates, and Dude and I wandered off again. After the rain sent us scurrying into a glass shop (not a good Dude venue) we went to the top of the hill again to see the carillon. When you play an instrument that weighs more than 2 school buses I guess little things like rain don't slow you down because he was just finishing up his show when we got there. Dave liked the bells, but what hereally liked was the elfin-eared pretzel guy. After the show he started walking across the clearing and screamed PREEEETZELS!!! I've been told I'm something of an expert in loud voices (quiet Raine) and this guy was LOUD. But Dave thought he was silly (he was) so when the Pretzel guy asked if Dude wanted one, he said, 'Yeah.' So I bought him a loud pretzel.
   
     After we hooked up and lost Alexis again (There was a wine tasting going on) (Wine is waaaay more interesting than Dudes) I mistakenly introduced Dude to his new Very Favoritest Food Ever!. It's all my fault. I take complete blame. Mea Culpa Maxima en Aeternum. Loosened up by buying him a loud pretzel only a short while before, I saw a sign that seemed to have Dude written all over it. So, I bought him some and now I'm doomed, doomed forever. It was fried Mac&Cheese on a stick. I know. I'm sorry. So very, very sorry.
   While we were walking to the Jousting Area we passed a silly, pointless game. It was a giant dart board that had a knight and a dragon drawn on it, and you threw darts at it. I really didn't see the point. There were no prizes, no balloons to pop, just a board you slung dull darts at. I began to see the point when the girl charged me $2.25 for Dude to throw three darts. Only one of them even stuck in the board, and no where near the dragon, but he got a sticker and he had fun. That was worth two and a quarter. The sticker calls him a 'Dragon Slayer', so if you've got dragon trouble, Dude is the one to call. Just be sure to give him more than 3 darts.
   Even with the 2 inches of rain Dave and I decided we were in need of some interior liquid. For
some reason places that sell food don't sell drinks and vice-versa, but we found a soda place and bought a 22 ounce Pepsi. I had a good sized drink on our way to the table, then gave it to David and got my camera ready for the Joust. When I went to get another drink all that was left was ice. I cocked a brow, looked at Dave and said, 'You could have at least left me a drink.' 'He was really thirsty' I was informed. I guess he was.
   It was finally time for the Joust. Dude and I set up on a hill beside the lists in the 'Not so good people' area. I know this because the announcer guy with the big sword said so. He'd talk to the people on the other side and call them, 'My good people' and when he talked to our side he'd say, 'You, Not So Good People'. We didn't have ushers or anything, we just ended up here. I think they saw us over here and told the 'Bad Knight' to work from this side just to make us look bad.
   Dave was getting kind of excited about the horses, but he still really had no idea what was going on. I've lived in Pittsburgh for 14 years and it wasn't too difficult for me to figure out how the whole thing was going to go down. The Knight on the 'Good People' side was wearing the colors, Black and Gold. This guy wasn't representing 'King Henry', the fat guy in the big chair, he was representing the Pittsburgh Steelers. And the Knight on the 'Not So Good-People' side was wearing Black and Purple. And in this football crazed city that can only mean one thing. He was representing the Baltimore Ravens. And if you're Jousting the Steelers against the Ravens you'd better get the winner right, or there is going to be..... trouble.
     The Knights made several passes at each other and I was impressed with how well they did considering the wet sand they were playing on. Dave, on the other hand, made no concession for technical difficulty, he just enjoyed the show. He was yelling encouragement to the Steeler Knight, even though we were supposed to be rooting for the other guy. It looks like all that Yinzer indoctrination has taken root, because he was yelling, 'Black and Yellow! Yeah!' I'm pretty sure he didn't care that we, as 'Not So Good People' were technically supposed to be rooting for the other guy. Not to prove I'm psychic or anything, but after 3 passes with the horses and some slogging around the wet sand whacking at each other with swords the Steelers Knight won the day with a pretty gruesome looking slash across the belly. I'm pretty sure almost no one but me saw the soon-to-be vanquished knight picking up the pouch of fake blood when he grabbed his second sword, but 20-some years in Entertainment means that I... basically annoy the crap out of people by pointing out things like that. I didn't tell Dave though. Not that it would have mattered if I'd tried. He was yelling out, 'Hooray! Black and Yellow!! Yeah!He's the winner! Black and Yellow is the BEST!'
   Here's a travel tip for ya: If you're ever in Pittsburgh and you want to sweeten a sour group, just say something like 'Black and Gold is the Best!' The clouds will part, the Sun will shine, people will smile, and you will instantaneously be invited to marry someone's son/daughter or maybe even asked to dinner. Well, people will smile, anyway. And people were smiling at Dude and I as we made our way back over to the Soda Stand to get us another drink. I think it was because he could shut up about the 'Black and Yellow' winning, or being the best. It's not like we're goofy, or anything.
       You'd think I'd learn, but I never do. Everything was nearly an exact repeat of the earlier hydration trip. I took a drink as we walked over to the table, handed it to David as he sat down, played with my camera for a bit. Took a couple pictures and then sat down myself. After a moment David pushed the cup over towards me. Berating myself for not paying attention, and fearing the worse, I looked down into the cup. Expecting to find it empty but for ice, I had a sarcastic comment all ready to go. It went entirely to waste. In the bottom of the cup, nearly covering the ice was exactly one drink of soda. Dude had left me exactly what I'd asked for. I think that means I just got punked by my autistic son. My own son! Out Smart-assed me!..... I'm so proud.
     Things were winding down but we still had time to walk through one more time. Dave decided he'd like to try the High Striker game. (It's the one with the hammer and the weight that hits the bell. Everyone knows the game, no one remembers the name,) (Yes, I had to look it up.) They had three different sizes there, from one about 4 feet tall to one about 15 feet tall. Dude immediately grabbed the largest hammer  and started toward the largest Striker.(ambitious young man) The girl running the game stopped him and gave him a smaller hammer, but he still wanted to try the largest game. After the first swing produced nothing but a slight bounce from the weight, (he'd missed the rubber pad) I persuaded him to try the 'Mamma Bear' sized game. He still wasn't having much luck hitting the proper spot, but the girl gave him some instruction and moved him back a step and he was ready to try again, 'He has to hit the rubber to win the Game!' he said, and gave a big John Henry swing. He managed to move the weight about 1/3 the way up the slide. The girl and I were going a little nuts encouraging and praising his efforts, but it did nothing to improve his score. I think his sticker said
'Mighty Knight' and what more could anyone want than that?
    We walked the rest of the way around the Fest and stopped by a semi-sorta-authentic Medieval band playing. Since things were kind of wrapping up, most of the wandering performers were hanging around the stage. Dude and I both thought the Owl Woman was really cool so we stood over by her while we enjoyed the music. 'This is my favorite song!' Dave exclaimed. Which just means he really likes it, because neither one of us had ever heard it before.
   After the song, but before we made it to the gate we stopped again so I could get a couple pictures of a woman in a fairy costume. Although at this point I was making no assumptions and was fully prepared to treat her as if she was a fairy, because she had the very best fairy costume I'd ever seen. And, hey... it could happen. Dave had no doubts at all. As far as I could tell, he was fully convinced this woman was a fairy and he sat down on the wet grass to watch her. She walked in a very Fairy manner and even though I've never heard of any Fae tradition of blowing bubbles I'm not aware that there isn't one, so I just kept my big fat trap shut. He was nearly glassy-eyed as she went down on one knee and presented him with a green glass 'rock' with gold glitter all over it. That may just be my cynical old man description of what she gave him, because as we were walking to the car he held it with his hand palm-up and open so he could stare at it while he walked (not recommended when walking through a rain soaked, tire rutted grass
field) 'You like your rock, I guess?' I asked, chuckling. Which was pretty fair, I think, since it was probably going to get him face first in a muddy field. 'It's a magic rock!' he said, earnestly. 'A magic rock, huh?' I said, instantly serious (you don't joke about magic rocks) 'That's pretty cool.'  'Yes!' he returned, 'It's a magic rock. It's cool!' I was fine with that, because if there's Magic out there somewhere, Dude deserves some of it. And that's certainly worth gold glitter all over the backseat of the car, don't you think?
 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Authorized to Work:

 
Even Dexter thinks Dudes are funny.
  At our annual 'What the Hell is up With Dude?' meeting (It's actually the IEP meeting) I, once again was given the suggestion that David should start his 'Transition' into an adult program. What this will tentatively entail will be a supposedly growing number of hours at a Work Program. Almost immediately I was told, No, that doesn't mean Dickensian Workhouse. I immediately cancelled my order for gruel for Dude's breakfast. What it did mean was that David would have the opportunity to work, part time, and earn some money while he did it.
     This has been talked about several times before over the years, but never acted on. He made it as far as BCRC coming to observe him in the classroom to judge his 'fitness' for their program. After only a little while they decided that 'he should wait' because 'I don't think he's right for our program... yet' Translation: Nuh uh, no way, no how. But this time the school district decided to kick in some extra money for an aide to stay with him while he was 'working', so BCRC said, 'Well.... I suppose he can come. 2 days a week, 3 hours a day to begin with.'
    Ever since the IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting toward the end of the school year David has been convinced that he no longer needs me to further his dreams of Las Vegas Elevator Glory. I mean, he's still trying to get me to bankroll the whole thing, but if the ol' Dude-Dad doesn't come through (which he probably won't), then Dude will still have it covered. Partially.
     I received a letter about mid-June from the BCRC (Beaver County Rehabilitation Center) the agency that I immediately 'filed' (yup, you guessed it. Still haven't found it). I was in the middle of re-flooring and painting the kitchen at the time, so I've got a built in excuse. I dimly remember that someone named.... uh.... Whatshername (Stephanie) wanted a face to face meeting with the Dudes and have them worship with her at the altar of her god, Bureaucracy. A less factitious and flowery version would be that she wanted us to call and make an appointment because there was half a truckload of paperwork to fill out and, oh yeah, while you're here we'll walk you through the place. (if there's time) Due to my advanced filing system this letter (with the accompanying phone number) was immediately and irretrievably lost. Forever. (not kidding)
     Luckily for me, Stephanie is much more on top of things than I am. She called at the end of July to make the appointment that I was going to do once I'd found the paper. Really! I was just about to do it when she called. When Stephanie called she was expecting to meet some disagreeable ass who would continue to cause trouble and drag his feet until everything had to be done with no time left to do it. She was close, but what she got was a forgetful ass who was willing to adhere to any schedule, just unable to come up with one of his own. So, on the next business day the two Dudes where in Brighton, in the rain, and fairly nearly on
He's got a job!
time.
     Dave had been continuously repeating the refrain, 'He has to go to the BCRC to get the money to get the tickets for the Vegas!' all weekend. Now that we were actually at BCRC I just about needed a whip and a chair to keep him contained.  One of their buildings was converted from a single-story multi-office building, so naturally we parked at the opposite end from their office and had to pass 4 or 5 no longer operable glass doors to get to the one that worked. Dave had to try each and every one of them, yelling, 'We're here at the BCRC!' I had to drag him back down the short sidewalk every time until we got to the main entrance.
      When we finally reached the entrance, I was pushed slightly aside and arm-barred from walking toward the actual front doors. I looked at Dude suspiciously, thinking that he was getting me back for denying him the other 4 doors walking down the side of the building. (I didn't actually, but it's still my fault somehow) I was puzzled for a minute when Dave Got out his 3DS (in the light rain!) and held it up in front of him to, I assumed, take video of our (his) entrance into 'the BCRC'. I shrugged it off to his continued excitement about starting his Vegas Trip Savings Program. Then I looked up and saw that these doors weren't ordinary doors. These doors were special doors.These doors opened like elevator doors! As the Dude procession made its way slooooowly into the building the secretary looked up from her desk. And waited. And waited some more. To get the angle he wanted on the shot Dave had his 3DS in both hands in front of him and above eye level. So he looked like he was carrying a bomb with a mercury switch or bearing the Chalice down the aisle for a Catholic Mass. That may actually be fairly close to the way he feels about the thing, anyway.
     So to reassure the lady I told her he was recording her doors. I'm not sure that cleared anything up for her, and I'm pretty sure she wasn't reassured at all. But, being a veteran of many weird people entering her building she just blinked and said softly ('cause that's how you talk to dangerous crazy people), 'Can I help you?' I quickly repressed the urge to tell her she didn't have the appropriate degree, and simply stated, 'Yes. We have an appointment with..... crap!' I'm pretty sure our appointment wasn't actually with Crap. But with me and names I couldn't be absolutely certain her name wasn't Crap. 'Uh.... we really do have an appointment.' I struggled with a name.... any name.'It's at 11:00...' She was momentarily completely unhelpful. Dave, of course, was more like perpetually unhelpful, 'We need to start the BCRC and get the tickets to go to Vegas to see the elevators.' She looked between us, seemingly unable to tell which one of us was the one that qualified for participation in the program. Dude smiled charmingly at her, 'It's only the casinos!'
   She blinked again. Then she seemed to shake it off, turned to me and said calmly ('cause that's the other way to talk to dangerous crazy people), 'Is this an intake tour?' I nodded, 'Then you need to see Stephanie?' My brows drew together as if I were actually considering her statement had an alternative, 'Uhhh.... Yeah. Probably. Could be. Let's try Stephanie?' I was hoping she'd dive in there somewhere and prevent me from drowning. She nodded (thank you!), 'Stephanie takes care of all that.' I smiled. 'Then we definitely need to try Stephanie.' She really couldn't tell which one of the Dudes was the mentally 'challenged' one here to enter the program. And... we're both named Dave so we probably couldn't tell either. (that makes absolutely no sense)
Professional Dude
    I have the feeling Stephanie was quickly and intensely briefed by our confused friend, because it took a bit longer for the both of them to come back to the lobby than the 20 foot trip would imply. At any rate Stephanie seemed happy to see us and she immediately took us on a tour of the two buildings. That is to say, she led us into the building across the street, but Dave seemed to be leading the tour, pointing out the break room, the vending machines, the bathrooms, and the tables and chairs. Dude had his nose in every nook, he was very excited and babbling at warp speed the whole time. Stephanie gamely tried to give her 'tour speech' which quickly became, 'tour notes' and then 'the occasional word in edgewise while Dude was drawing the occasional breath. I give her full points, for a rookie she did pretty good.
     They have two different programs at BCRC, well... three really, because one is chopped in half. There's the 'work' program, which includes the 'school program'. That is where all the employees are doing small, repetitive tasks, mostly for some business that get some kind of incentive to source through the program. The 'school program' basically is an introductory level, and the tasks that they perform may or may not have anything to do with an outside business. Then there's another program in the main building where they're actually running a business, making candy bouquets for sale and distribution. That's the goal, evidently. To work your way up the chain until you either can get an outside job, or can be trusted to work in their business. Dave, of course, spent the whole time in the second (one story) building looking for elevators and babbling about Vegas.
     One thing about having a special needs kid... You'll never forget your name. Even after having your mind wiped by the Evil Genius' mind wiping ray, you'll still be able to sign your name to the innumerable forms that need to be filled out every year. For any of you that haven't seen my signature, it looks like someone did that trick where they pretend to sneeze and then blow Silly String out of the can held next to their nose. I have a friend who's a doctor that actually asked me for signature lessons, it's that screwed up looking. And for the same reason: Because of the hundreds of thousands of times I've had to sign my name over the years.
     One thing about Dave being over 18... He now gets to sign quite a few of the forms. When our tour was over, Stephanie led us into a small conference rooms and a medium sized stack of papers to fill out. Dude's face lit up (rookie) and he said, 'Now he gets authorized to work!' He's got pretty good eyes, because I had to take another step or two before I could read 'Work Authorization Form' on the top paper. 'He has to get Authorized so he can go to the BCRC to get the tickets to go to the Vegas!' Stephanie looked confused and looked to me for translation. (This is not the first time someone has done this) I explained, 'He wants to go to Las Vegas so that he can ride all the elevators.' She nodded as if I'd explained everything, but I could still see the confusion in her eyes. I ignored it. I'd given my shot, and that was all she was going to get. I see myself as more of a Doorman to Dudeworld, not a Tour Guide.
   Once she started the bureaucratic ball rolling she started shuffling the paperwork at us like a blackjack dealer. David was very enthusiastic about signing his name and getting 'authorized' at first, but about halfway through he began to lose steam. Sighing every time another paper was slid his way. I completely understood where he was coming from, but considering he was about 200,000 signatures behind me, I couldn't muster much sympathy. When we were all done (finally) Dude gusted out a sigh and said, 'NOW, he's authorized to work, and get the tickets for Vegas next year!' He looked up at me, and being the party-pooper I am I said, 'I'm not sure a part time job will get you to Vegas in a year.' He was hearing none of it, 'It's only casinos!' He said with a slight pleading note in his voice. My father always called me a 'Hard-headed Dutchman', but even I wasn't completely unmoved by his pleadings, 'We'll see.' The marshmallow said finally. 'YES!!!' As if I'd already shown him the tickets, 'He gets the tickets and goes to the Vegas and records ALL the elevators!' he shouted. I am sooo doomed.
    I happened to glance over at Stephanie and I could see the light showing faintly in her eyes. She was beginning to brush the edges of what it could mean to be sucked into Dudeworld. Here be Dragons. Indeed.
     When we got home Dave immediately wanted to do to apposing things. He wanted to keep the paperwork we brought home, and at the same time, he wanted me to get the physical form and the direct deposit form filled out at once, so he could begin ordering his tickets to Vegas immediately. We compromised... Dad style. He put all the forms on the dining room table and under threat of immediate decapitation or worse left them there and went to play his games.
     So.... 14 days later, the first day of school was upon us and Dave was very excited. Very very excited. The
First day of school
and Dad's got notes!
amount of understatement here cannot be overstated. Dad was excited to. For a very different reason. For Dude, the return to school (already an exciting event) signaled the beginning of his Journey to the Mecca of Elevator Goodness. I, on the other hand, was excited because this was the first time in 10 years where he actually stayed the same size through the summer. So it was the first time in a decade that he didn't need 3 Sherpa to take home all his new clothes from the stores.
   I sometimes don't understand how important Dude can be to other people, until it slaps me in the face. I mean, there was the whole 'Dude's not going to Vegas?' fiasco and now.... the David needs a physical form filled out so he can go to BCRC debacle. If you look at the picture on the left you will see clutched in his hot little hand The Book and several loose pieces of paper. 2 of those pieces and another in The Book that called for the death of the Procrastinating Dude-Dad. Well... that's a bit melodramatic, but he did come home with 3 different notes telling me he needed the physical form filled out before he could start BCRC and there was tugging of the heart strings telling that Dastardly Dad (twirling my mustache as we speak) 'He's really excited about going and it would be a shame if he couldn't go, wouldn't it?' I know... I teared up when I read it.... 3 different times... in 3 different notes... from 3 different people. I didn't even get one note for the 14 bucks I still owe them from lunches last year.
   Well, okay, there probably weren't any tears, but I did immediately call his doctor to see if his last physical was close enough that so we could avoid having to make an appointment and just get the form filled out. By the time I found out (less than 10 minutes) Dave had whipped back through the room 4 different times saying, 'He needs to get a physical, so he can go to the BCRC!!' I finally told him that if he said it one more time he wouldn't have any physical left, so we wouldn't need the form. When the nurse told me that all I had to do was drop off the form, Dude and I jumped on the bike and headed out. For various reasons, Dave is still seeing a pediatrician and the office has a small entryway where the receptionist sits and then a door to the left for 'sick kids' and one to the right for 'well kids'. Dave was either hovering over my shoulder or darting for one of the doors shouting, 'He needs to get the physical!' the whole time I was talking to this nice woman. She promised me, without fail, that the forms would be ready for me to pick up the next afternoon. After I explained that to Dude I looked back at the nurse and said, 'You know, if they're not ready tomorrow, I'm going to bring him back and leave him here.' She laughed and assured me that they would indeed be done. I don't think she took me seriously, but I've already given the address to the bus drivers, 'just in case'.

   

Friday, August 15, 2014

Dark White Nights:

       This post has almost nothing to do with Dude. Fair Warning.
       I want it stated for the record that 2:00 am is a bad time to start a story. That being said, 2am is my time. Especially on the weekends. I'm not waiting to go anywhere, or for anyone to come home. No one's going to interrupt me and my doing of nothing. It's quiet, which is a precious gift around here. 2am is the time of day when you realize how noisy the rest of your life is. You've pretty much got your little corner of the world all to yourself. By and large, even though you probably wouldn't trade your family for the world, just about anyone can use some time when the world is quiet and you're the only person in it. You can wrap your arm around Boredom's shoulder and say, 'It's just you and me, pal. You. And. Me... So, whattaya want to do?' Mostly my Boredom just looks back and me and says, 'I don't know.... whattayou want to do?' Great... even my boredom is a smartass...
     What white nights are good for, if they're good for anything, is introspection about the past. Unfortunately, as a species we're not really geared for the nocturnal, so many times this will lead to dark musings and self-doubt. Well, that and getting pissed off at people from your past. But that's kind of like yelling at idiots in traffic. Raises your blood pressure, but they don't get a damned thing out of it. Okay, there is one further benefit. You get the sole, and undivided attention of your cat. That is also sometimes not a good thing.
     Someone (okay, more than just one) told me once that he could never predict what would come out of my mouth. He also said that I had some funny stories to tell. I had no argument with either statement. I did say that he was not the first person to make these observations... Hell, he wasn't even the first one that week. I did explain to him that even my bizarre sense of the ridiculous couldn't explain away all of the funny crap that just seems to happen around me.
     Case in point: While I was a stagehand in Florida I had a gig setting up the stage for Paul McCartney's New World Tour. Linda McCartney had declared the entire tour to be vegetarian and the carnivores were restless. A company from Michigan, of all places, was following the tour and erecting the steel scaffold that makes up the structure of the stage. The main problem being, the first week of May the average temp in Michigan was 45 degrees with 57% humidity, and the actual temp in Orlando? 92 degrees with 87% humidity so in the first three days of assembly 15 members of the 60 or so man crew fell out. 3 of them literally falling out of the steel with symptoms of heat prostration and heat stroke. So my company was called in to fill in the gaps, and then by our second day, take over the gig.
     Jackie, a gypsy on the steel crew, or someone who independently follows a tour and works the steel, walked over in my direction, twitching her left arm like a person with a mosquito bite on her shoulder blade. Most of my crew knew Jackie, as she was through town a couple times a year, but I had only met her the day before. I asked, 'What's wrong Jackie?' thinking that there was some sort of bug (which Florida has a plenitude) in her shirt. She said, 'I got my nipple pierced yesterday, and it itches like hell.' Which is a hell of a thing on your 3rd job with a company, and I was 7 months removed from a somewhat less than worldly rural environment. Okay, I was a hick from the sticks and had never even known someone with a nipple piercing and here I was within inches of a nice looking athletic-bodied woman who wanted to talk to me about it. This was destined to be an educational experience.(I had no idea) Trying not to act like a 13 year old with his first copy of Playboy, I decided to play it cool. 'Itches pretty good, I guess.'  She twitched a couple of more times, scowled at her (small, but well formed) chest, looked up at me and said matter-of-factly, 'Yeah. Wanna see?' Before I could even react she grabbed the strap of her tank top, drew it quickly aside and showed me the offending ( or offended) breast and the aforementioned nipple piercing. This was not a flash-viewing, she fully expected me to examine her accessory and the flesh around it, and look for swelling or irritation. Now here I am, a married country boy in a fairly populated city, in the middle of a football stadium in broad daylight with a woman I barely know showing me her tit and asking me to look closely at it.
     I knew right then and there that I had chosen the right line of work.
     Still trying to be all worldly and cool-ish I tried to remember where her eyes were when I said, 'You know if you put band aids over those they wouldn't move around so much and irritate your nipples.' She brightened immediately, 'Thanks! I think I'll try that.'
     Now even if you took away my somewhat humorous take on the situation and simply stated, 'When I worked my third gig in Florida, a woman I'd just met walked up to me and showed me her boob and the nipple ring inserted therein.' It doesn't make it any less bizarre. So while some of the funny stories can be chalked up to the way that I tell them, the fact remains that some pretty weird shit happens around me quite frequently.
    Only some of that weird shit is named Dude. But that is pretty weird sometimes. By this time you might be wondering, 'This is semi-interesting, but when is he getting to the Dude-stuff?' Well, that's another great thing about 2 in the morning... You don't have to follow any rules or live up to any expectations. Even your own.
   Oddly enough... relatively speaking, The reason that was only my third gig was because 5 weeks before I was helping to move the company warehouse to a new location and had fallen off a loading dock, breaking my collarbone, separating my shoulder, and requiring 9 staples in the side of my head to keep my punitive brains from falling out. (I know I have something resembling brain matter in there because I required an MRI because of my head injury) (I asked the Dr. to send the proof of brain to my father immediately)
    I was all alone on the asphalt with the wind knocked out of me, unable to use my left arm. Every one else on the crew was in the motor-home inside the warehouse having a 'pot-break'. So the only person in the building not stoned fell on his head and was lying bleeding in the parking lot. Take that OSHA!
    By the time any of the stoners realized that I was gone I had crawled to the side of the building and was sitting up against it, trying to remember how to breathe. Someone saw the blood on the parking lot and I was found and the ambulance called in short order. After that I was sort of.... dragged out into the parking lot after having a bag of ice placed against the back of my neck in some sort of stoner triage and first aide.
     Once the non chemically enhanced ( I assumed) paramedics arrived I was immediately placed on a back-board and then duct taped to it. Immediately after taping my broken, bleeding, long-haired head to the board it was discovered that I hadn't been fitted with a neck brace. The placing of which required, you guessed it, the removal of the 3, count 'em, 3 wraps of very sticky tape from around my very, very, hairy head. 'Yeah, it's okay, dude. The pain from my broken bones, bruised ribs, torn ligaments, and the 6 inch gash in my skull will just drown that out.'
     It didn't.

     I read somewhere that paramedics, at least the ones who are also firemen, have to, as part of their training, carry a 150 pound manikin either 50 or 100 feet to pass their test. So with three of them there, theoretically they should have been able to lift an NFL offensive lineman in full gear at least as far as the gurney 2 feet away from their supine victim. I weigh somewhere between 240 and 250 pounds. Should be nooooo problem, right? I got a harmonized grunt, a jostle and then dropped from a height of about 4 inches off the tarmac. Ouch. At that point I was glad they'd ripped out hunks of my hair to put on the neck brace. Not only could the limp-noodle brigade not lift me to the gurney, they also required help getting the damned thing up in the raised position, and then called the guys back to help them get it into the ambulance. I was starting to become concerned with the fitness of the Florida Health Care System.
     I don't know if any of you have had a Concussive Brain Injury but on the trip to the hospital the medic asks a series of very basic questions that, if I hadn't been about half groggy, would have annoyed the hell out of me. You know; Name?, Birthday? Address? Date? Do you remember how you got hurt?' (Yeah, I took a gainer off a loading dock and only got a '3' from the Russian judge.) I answered all his questions, growing less muddle-headed and more annoyed the whole time. Until he asked me what day of the week it was. 'Uhhhhh....' Was my response. I just couldn't remember. It was bugging me more and more as the 20 minute trip went on. I was really getting anxious about that damned stupid question, even though it isn't all that unusual for me not to know the day of the week at any given time. When we reached the hospital and the guy opened the back door I raised my head the little I could and yelled, 'WAIT!!!' He rushed back to my side, 'What's wrong?' he asked, beginning to become frightened. 'It's Tuesday.' I said, portentously, and relaxed my head back down on the board. 'Yes... yes it is.' he gritted through his teeth. Then he bent his head close, looked me in the eye and growled, 'Don't ever fucking do that to me again.' What was his problem? I mean, he asked... didn't he?
    Another cool thing about head injuries... No, and I mean absolutely NO pain killers. So after X-rays and slings (no arrows) and being jostled around for about an hour it came time to 'take care of' that little bleeding problem at the crown of my head. Sans-anesthesia.  I was beginning to regret that I wasn't a stoner.
   The Doc (the guy was just not dignified enough to call him Doctor) rolled up on his stool, looked me in the eye and said calmly, 'I need you to promise me something.' I placed my working hand to my chest, 'Doctor, we've only just met.' He chuckled a bit and then resumed his serious expression. 'I really need to to promise me something.' I waited for more. And waited. 'What?' I finally said. 'I need you to promise before I tell you what it is.' 'Uh huh... that crap didn't even work for my mom when I was 6, dude.' His earnestness eventually wore me down and I made the promise. 'I need for you not to hit me.' I was confused. 'Well.... I have to put these 9 staples in your head, and I'd rather not end up a patient here to do it.' That was when it occurred to me that he was going to be shoving 3/4 of a dozen small lengths of steel into my delicate (but still manly) skin without even the benefit of an aspirin. I was really regretting not being a stoner at that point. But all I did was nod my head, grab one of the side rails of the bed, turn my head and say, 'Let's get on with this.'
     The bright side was, I got to keep my hair. And that was the only bright side. After fiddling with my skull-covering for a moment... CHUNK!!! I grunted in pain and gripped the bar harder. Some more fiddling... CHUNK!! If only I hadn't promised, I'd be beating the hell out of him with my one good hand right now. Twice more huge surgical steel pylons were driven into my cranium.... then nothing. I opened one eye and peered back at the doctor. 'What the hell are you waiting for?' I growled. He seemed to be fascinated with my right hand. He shook himself, looked at me, and said, 'Are you okay?' I wanted to throttle him. Other than that I was just peachy. 'I'm fine, let's just get on with this, okay?' He kept glancing between my eyes and my hand, nervously licking his lips a couple times. Then he nodded, 'Let's get this done.' I finally looked down at my hand grasping the bar. I had bent the 1 inch diameter pipe about 2 inches in a direct line, now that I think about it, between that pipe and his jaw.
     CHUNKchunkchunkchunkchunk!!! Suddenly this guy was Machine Gun Kelly with the medical staples. 'Okay, we're done!' as he pushed himself back, the little steel wheels on his stool squeaking as he flung himself across the floor. I sloooowly unlocked my fingers. They were definitely going to have to replace that, I thought, looking at the bowed metal. I grinned fiercely at the quivering Medico, 'It's a good thing I promised, isn't it?' He gulped.
    I went home and scared the hell out of my room-mates, and also my wife when she got off work. You know, on account of me looking like I'd spent the day playing in traffic... angry traffic. The next
day when I got back from the Osteopath, where I'd been having fun holding 50 pounds of sandbags with my bad arm so they could get good X-rays of my broken shoulder, I got a phone call from the hospital; They had noticed something in the MRI and could I come to the Emergency Room to talk about it. No, they wouldn't discuss it on the phone. It was dire enough that it could only be resolved by a personal visit. Well, I couldn't get there until the next day, so if it's one of those 24 hour Death-Virus things, I was completely out of luck. 'I'm sorry, sir, we can't talk about patient information over the phone.' Fuck. 'I guess the rest of this conversation is completely worthless then, huh?'
 'That's fine, sir, we'll see you tomorrow then?' Oh great! I'm so doomed. There's no treatment or cure, nothing they can do for me, so another half a day won't make any difference. Brain injuries make you paranoid... did I tell you that?
    After a further 14 hours of imagined brain tumors and cranial defects and depression over my lack of anything to actually put in a Will, I was once again facing the doctor who had so cleverly avoided getting beaten by me just 36 hours before. 'You've broken a tiny bone in your face, it's cut a sinus and we need to give you antibiotics to prevent infection.' I stared at him in amazement. 'That's it? Y'all scared the crap out of me for a sinus infection?' You know how when you've been really scared, you get mad when you should be relieved? I looked at him and grinned (it wasn't a nice grin)'You didn't make me promise not to hit you this time.' He laughed. He quickly stopped laughing when he looked at my face. 'I'll just go get the antibiotics.' he said as he turned and disappeared out of the room. Chicken. He even made a nurse come back with the drugs to keep out of arms reach of me, I guess. Hell, I only had one that worked. What was he afraid of? A sudden case of Bent Bedrail Syndrome?
   I would normally take this space to make some parallel between these stories about me and some event/detail of or in Dude's life. Nope. Not this time. Me, me, me, me, me, me, me. Mine, mine mine! I'm a happy miser! (Daffy Duck reference) One other thing about 2 in the morning.... It doesn't have to make sense.