Adventures in Autistic Parenthood

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Show That Never Ends:

Welcome back my friends
 to the show that never ends.
We're so glad you could attend.
Come inside, come inside...          (Emerson, Lake, and Palmer)
Earlier this year I received a note from Jill Mosura, one of Dave's former teachers. I had forgotten, or never knew that she was also the music teacher for the school. I'm sure she has a better title than that, but that's what we called them when I was in school, so that's what I call her. The day before I received the official request from the school her note arrived in Dude's book. She practically begged me to allow David to participate in this years Talent Show. I wondered why she was so intensely seeking my permission, but put it down to trying to break a new idea into my well meaning, but absent-minded head. Thinking that mere insistence would break through the adamantine-like bones of my skull...foolish woman.
    That being said, I didn't have the heart to turn down her request. The next day, when the form arrived I actually filled it out immediately and returned it the day after. They should be impressed. I have official, Fill This Out or We'll Find You and It Won't Be Nice, forms from the Federal Government that sit on my desk for months before I finally get around to filling them out.Or even opening them up... (Why yes, Your Honor, send me to Leavenworth, it's right near my hometown.)
    I didn't think much more about it, other than some formless plan about not scheduling anything on the second Wednesday in April. But, since I don't actually have a schedule, that didn't prove too hard a task. So, having done all I could do at that point, I promptly forgot all about it. Hey, I figured if she was that insistent I'd probably get a note or something, hopefully before the event actually took place. But my willful ignorance was not to last. About 2 weeks before the Big Show I got another note. For some not-explained reason it seems my offspring was going to be fitted for a tuxedo. I tried to imagine my gangly son in a penguin-suit and came up empty. Signing the permission slip, I dropped back into my fog of ignorance. Okay, in my own defense, my motorcycle had recently been consigned to the shop because of a bad replacement part and I was in the midst of trying to make 3 jobs in completely different areas go into 2 cars and at the same time convince my bosses that I was well worth the trouble for showing up over an hour late every day for 4 weeks. So far, they're buying it.
   So, despite the occasional stray thought wondering what the hell Dave was going to do in the talent show in a tuxedo, I had to relegate the Talent Show to the back burner of my brain...that's one crowded burner, let me tell you. As a side note; After agreeing to the Talent Show, Mrs. Yarosz, his current teacher, called me and practically begged me to allow Dude to go to the Prom citing all sorts of spurious reasons. Like how he loves music and is always dancing when he hears it, and how he would love to go too, and how much fun he would have. As if these arguments would sway me... To teach her a lesson about expecting such permissiveness from me on a regular basis, I didn't send in the permission slip until the last possible day. Can't let these teachers push you around.

Jill, setting up the show
 Sometime, about a week before the show, I received another note from the school asking me how many tickets we wanted. After some bad math (I asked for one for Dude... doh!) this also was returned swiftly and the tickets (including Dude's) were forwarded back. I immediately put them somewhere I couldn't forget them. This was nearly a grave mistake. As I've stated before, I have the 'Oh! There it is!' filing system, so finding things I'd put 'where I'd never forget them' is sometimes a hit-or-miss thing. Mostly miss. But for once I had placed it by the coffee maker, so the envelope was seen every damned day. We had our tickets with us when we drove Dude to the Show. And even if nothing else went right, that made our evening right there.
    I dropped David off at the sign in table on time, for a wonder, and Ashley (David's former teacher's aide) almost scowled at me and asked me sharply, 'Where's your camera?' I intelligently responded, 'Uhhh... It's in the car?' We were 45 minutes early, for cripe's sake!  'Good', she said, nodding sharply, 'You're gonna need it.' Okaaaaaay. It's not like it isn't nearly always welded to my hand anyway. She then looked up at me (she's kinda short) and grinned impishly and said, 'You're going to be so proud of him!' and then, before she could explain that, she was gone. I stood for a moment, completely dumbfounded. Ashley has known me for a few years, and I never thought I gave her the impression that I was anything but proud (annoyed, irritated) of my son. I shook that off and went back out to the car to wait with Raine for Alexis and the start of the show.
     In due course they both arrived and the three of us found a seat near the lady guarding the video camera and waited for the show. Now, because Dude is, well... Dude, everyone who works or helps out at the school knows him, and by extension me, who basically has no clue who they are. I used to be embarrassed about my lack of name-memory, but now it's kind of a distinction. Just call me The Lord of the What's His Name. I was stopped on the way to our seats by 2 of the nameless rabble repeating the same strange mantra: 'You're going to be sooooo proud of him.' Either Dude was going to do something spectacular, or I had gained the reputation as a heartless bastard. The outlet polls were mixed. Even the guy sitting in the row behind us with his wife and small child, when he found out who my son was, said, 'They've been working really hard for weeks.' then the inevitable addition, 'You're going to be so proud of him.'
     As we were waiting for the show to start I found myself standing rather awkwardly next to the camera-lady while Raine and Alex were sitting with that nervous boredom that has graced every theater before every show in the history of mankind. I'd swear on a stack of  programs this high that I'd never seen this woman before in my life, but she tapped me on the shoulder as I was taking a picture of the sparkly ribbon decoration on the central light fixture. She said, 'There he is, look!' I looked where she was pointing and between the curtain and the wall, about 30 feet away, was a dim figure in a tux peering out into the audience. Before I could get my camera (and brain) into action someone had hooked him back into the darkness and closed the curtain.
     'You're David's dad, aren't you?' she asked after. I nodded. 'I tried to let you know when I first saw him,
but it was just too quick.' We both chuckled for a moment. She looked earnestly at me, 'You're going to be so proud of him.' Then she smiled at my puzzled expression then turned away to check her equipment. Just about the time I'd shaken off my stupor the lights went down and Dave, carrying something I couldn't see that looked like sticks, came across the floor from the stage left wing and stood in front of something I couldn't see through the crowd, at the end of the center aisle. He looked like the friggin 'Mad Conductor'. He was dressed in a well-fitting classic tux. White shirt, red cummerbund and bow tie, and his neck-length hair was gelled to within an inch of its life. he then raised his arms in a victory 'V' over his head and froze, holding beaters (sticks with wooden balls on the ends) in his hands, waiting for... something.
     An instrumental version of 'Sweet Child of Mine' started in the background and still David waited, arms extended. Then, when I was about ready to crack from the tension, he started playing a xylophone!! And it sounded good! He leaned into the music that he was producing from that simplest of keyboards and played it, not like some kid with a Playschool tin toy with a plastic beater, but double handed, beaters in each making music come out of that collection of old bones. I've been called a fair singer, but other than one noodle on the piano and a
ham-handed version of the main riff of 'Stray Cat Strut' (don't ask) I couldn't play a tune on anything to save my life. I was impressed. After he finished and accepted the accolades of the crowd like a true conquering Caesar, he then started pushing the instrument up the aisle. Only stopping twice on the way up to bow and say, 'Yeah! That's it!' Then taking a left, stopping to hug a teacher-person and me before stopping once again, in front of the curtain obscuring the hallway, to encourage the crowd to praise
him further before performing another sweeping bow. The usher-teacher-lady and I shoved him through the curtain before he could begin his own cult right then and there.
    True to prediction, I felt pretty damn proud of my offspring. I still didn't understand why they'd made such a great big deal out of it, but if I'd been wearing a hat... it would have needed adjustment from the head-swelling. Turns out I didn't know what the hell I was talking about.
    I went back to sit down with Raine and Alexis, we were all chattering softly but excitedly about Dave's performance. I said something to the tune of, 'Well, that was it.' and Raine showed me a familiar name in the last act of the show. Damn . Don't get me wrong, I love being around these kids. They give me a lift I can't quite explain. But... school shows are school shows. If it's not your child on the stage it feels like something that should be banned by the Geneva Convention as cruel and inhuman torture. The rest of the show, other than a student piano solo that was quite good, was just about what I expected it to be. a series of stilted skits narrated by an adult to keep things moving, and prevent us from being dragged down to the 9th circle of theater hell. I mean, the kids were great and really had fun, but there's only so much you can do with 'The Day the Crayons Went on Strike' and the original short story for the song 'Tie a Yellow Ribbon' (and now that song is rushing through my head, Thanks Jill) Really, it was cute and fun and the kids did a wonderful job, I was just impatient for the Rock Star to take the stage again. 
    Finally the final act was getting ready to start. I got excited when I saw Dave come out from the wings
again, but all he did was sit in a seat in the front row. I wondered about that for a second, but the lights went down and the curtain opened to a group of about 20 kids sitting on stools on Choir risers. The opening bars of 'Imagine' by John Lennon started, a version I'd never heard before, sung by a woman. The kids all started to 'sing' the song silently in ASL (American Sign Language). I was pretty impressed, and not a little moved. My own fluency in Sign is restricted to what was taught to me by my 6 year old step-daughter. So, basically, I could tell someone to sit down, and that they're talking too much. These kids were the Rhode's Scholars of Sign Language compared to me.
     Then just before the final verse, it happened. Dave stood up in front of a microphone and started sing with the recording. Dave and I used to sing together all the time. But for a while he's gotten goofy about it, and we don't do it so much anymore. When he does sing it's usually with earbuds in, so he sounds kind of flat and loud. But that night he sounded clear and on pitch. He was varying his tone and inflection, really getting into the song and I was... Well let's just say it's hard to tell if your camera is in focus with tears rolling down your cheeks. Don't know why, it just works out that way. I moved across the back of the first section of seats and tried to get a clearer view. I got a better view, but the crying eye thing kind of negated any clarity. I even sang along softly for a bit, but there seemed to be some sort of amphibian living in my throat.  I may even have gotten yelled at for being in someone else's way, but I didn't even notice, or really care. Dave continued to sing and I continued to be just awestruck listening to that clear, tenor voice.

You may say I'm a dreamer,
But I'm not the only one.
I hope some day you will join us,
And the world will live as one.

    The crowd went nuts. I damned near broke my camera when I started clapping before I remembered it was still in my hand. I was laughing and crying and didn't give a damn. As David once again made his way down the aisle to the hall-curtain I grabbed him in a big hug and said, 'You did GREAT!!' To which he humbly replied, 'Yeah! It was good! Now we've got to go to the Las Vegas!' then we had to hustle him
through the curtain so he could make his way backstage for the curtain-call. I was still standing in the cross-aisle so when it was David's turn to bow I was standing right behind the nice guy and his family, so my bellow of DUUUUUUUUUUDE!!!!! scared the crap out of them, but didn't actually knock any hats off any heads, no matter what the rumors say.
     Alexis and I went 'backstage' (classrooms behind the cafeteria) and retrieved my offspring, and while Alex took Dude to the car I went hunting for Ms Masura to tell her she was awesome and wonderful and that I was willing to be her undying slave, acceding to any and every request for my or David's presence at any school function she would be willing to name...ever. She told me that he originally wasn't going to be in that skit, but he sang so well to the song when they were practicing it, that they had to get him in there somehow. I praised her good judgement.
     Things are pretty much back to normal around here. Dave just playing his games and waiting for his agent to call him with the new booking at some Vegas floor-show. Just typical stuff, really.

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