A friend of mine owns a tattoo shop. Next to his shop is a bar (as is the custom). He let us know that said bar has certain karaoke nights. So Marcus and I went to check it out. I was nervous, as I always am, when the evening began. Nervous about karaoke? Yes. But more nervous about how Marcus will be received, how he will be treated.
An Easy Target
When Marcus was born and I heard the words Down syndrome, before I knew anything of heart surgery or other complications, I feared that Marcus would be preyed upon. I feared the way his features may make him seem an easy target. However, in real life, I have witnessed the opposite effect again and again.
That night at the new bar, well…Marcus and I played the video game on the counter. (Lovingly called the “crack machine,” but I don’t want you to get the wrong idea.) Soon he was playing the game not with me but with a guy standing near us who we called Tim.
We called him Tim because that’s his name. Marcus is always keen to find out people’s names.
Next thing I know Marcus is kissing a lovely young woman’s hand after her song, doing shots of lemonade with the bartender, and I was pretty much invisible. When we left Tim told me how glad we came that night, “I’ve had more fun than I have for a long time,” he said.
Is he with you?
The other day we went to a coffee shop where I “work” on things like this and Marcus “works” on his IPad. Just after we got in and were ordering, Marcus realized he forget his bag in the car. So I proceeded to order and he went back out to the car to get it. A moment later a few older men come in and Marcus was right behind them with his bag.
“He with you?” the man says to me once he approached the coffee counter.
“Oh yeah,” I said, “He’s with me.” I was in a pretty good mood, so I’m sure it came across lighthearted with a smile as I looked to Marcus setting up at the table we usually take.
The man nodded. He looked pretty grave, to tell you the truth. “Huh. I just…I worried about him.”
I nodded acknowledgment. I grabbed my hot drinks and processed. Now the news and the internet, and well obviously the world, is full of anger, and fear, and bad stuff. I wondered if any of that could be at play. I looked back at the men. It wasn’t. He was watching out for Marcus. He wanted this young man stranger to be Okay.
Now here’s where I feel a rise in objection from some members of the advocate community, I feel people will be angry that it’s assumed Marcus needs watching out for. And well, sorry, but I’m Okay with that. It’s no different than when I used to travel alone among gaggle of salesmen with varying levels of integrity, and I too was glad to discover that some of those men were watching out for me.
Did they assume I couldn’t “take care of myself?” Or was it they just didn’t see any reason for me to be alone in situations that could harm me? It’s OK with me when people look out for each other. And, as in the case of our bar experience, Marcus wasn’t helped out but rather welcomed in. That’s what is good to see.
Far Away from Home
Marcus and I love to travel, and we have had occasion to fly together to big fun cities across the country. His favorite is, obviously, New York City. We are hoping to make a trip to the UK. He’s very anxious for London (as am I) and the possibility of meeting some new cool people and a movie filming. I have read some quite disturbing public incidents of hateful discrimination on UK trains as late. It fills me with dread. I don’t suppose these apprehensions will ever go away. There is much more to say about this, but I’ll leave it today…
So, as each time before, I will prepare myself as if my fear is an armor and yet still hold on to the hope deep within me that people will be, as they have most often been, ready to welcome and embrace Marcus in each new adventure.
This is a #TBT post, originally posted in October of 2013. The movie thing didn’t pan out, but we still have big goals for a UK trip. Right now the World Down Syndrome Congress is in India, in 2018 it will be in Scotland. Marcus and I both hope to have books in the International Book Festival by then, as well. So – Let’s Roll!
HAY – Also, here’s a fun clip of when Marcus got his own tattoo papered on (no needles) last December:
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