Almost reduced to tears

March 31, 2012

Prodigal son. Its an interesting story. Hopeful if you’re a parent. But tales like that don’t come true. But they happened to me. After many years struggling to grow up, my son has come around. He has ADD and Tourette Syndrome. And is in the top 5% of the population in intelligence.

Years of trying to find out about his difficulties. Running away from home. We were warned that statistics didn’t favor us. Many ADD kids end up in prison/jail. He’s 30 now. New girlfriend. New attitude. Its like you’re talking to a totally different person. Like he remade himself. I don’t know how much pain he has gone through to make this person. But when I see the man he has become, I’m almost reduced to tears.





Hands on the pedestal. Toes tapping. Fingers snapping. OOOE. Charlie What Was His Last Name slid down the aisle. Knee knockers. Of the drug store. His body incredibly still. His feet like clippers over your neighbourhood hedge. In a swirl. Soft shoe. Sand between his toes. Put your ear to the floor. Don’t it sound sad? Vaudeville. There was laughter in his shoes. His fingers snarled. And the air, it just stood there shy and naked.

Charlie stopped up. At the make-up counter, his chin pointed toward the ceiling. Really He was feeling it. His back arched. Heels spinning. The sequins on his trousers and his vest squinting at the store lights. His fingers tapped the glass top. One over each. Ever so lightly. His fingernails recently manicured. Cured of melancholy. He tipped his green bowler hat, the hat he’d been given by the deputy mayor of St. Patrick’s Day. The hat rolling down his arm. To a hand. Which caught it. Deftly. Like Jack Duffy caught that hay maker. And placed it back on his noggin. There was a smile on his mug. They were chums. Never parted. Like cousins under mosquito netting.

“How are you doing today, Charlie?” Deborah Hall asked. The cosmetician was deeply immersed in a magazine. Fashion research. She Liked It Hot And Rough. Was written across the magazine’s face. And there were lots of tips inside. How to make chocolate cake without putting on a pound. And what he really wants under the sheets. Charlie knew that they liked it rough in Hamilton. Of course there was always the horn section. Dipping their silver mouths into the hot molasses. They liked to call it jazz.

Charlie batted his eyelashes. His head jerked toward Jerusalem. And then toward Deborah. His smile was forked, almost demonic. If only humans had never learned to speak. We could all order hamburger tartar in mime.

“Well,” he declared like a full committee of the learned and the privileged. And added, just as an aside, “And how are you?” His voice was theatrical. As if it had been trained in a private school in Switzerland. His mouth the bulldog in the dog house. Hearing a funny little sound. From his gut. Which he didn’t understand. It being pure slang. Which only the thugs on Queen Street understood. Or cared to understand.

Whateva!” the cosmetician responded shrugging her shoulders in a very melodic manner as if her movements had been choreographed. By a Spaniard at Juliards. Turning the pages of her magazine. Her fingers like Fred Astaires.

Charlie relaxed. His body melting from some celestial pose. He leaned over the counter. Like a flaccid Dali time piece. Making ‘I’ contact.

“Well, here’s one to put a smile on your lovely face,” Charlie said. And he loved Deborah’s lovely face. Would have put it on a postage stamp. Signed her up to play Joan the last woman on the ark. But a trombone blasted the image of Deborah in his ear. Smudged his hair. And misspent his youth. “A woman walks up to the beautician and asks, ‘Can you make me beautiful?’ ‘Hey,’ cries the beautician, ‘I’m a beautician, not a magician.’

Charlie smiled, tipped his hat once more with juggling delight, than sashayed gaily down the aisle.

Deborah looked up from her magazine with a bored glance and watched Charlie disappear around the corner.

Whateva!” she sighed and returned to her work. And the whole place blew up in silence.

My son has tourettes. It is a disorder of the nervous system. He also has Attention Deficit Disorder. He is not hyper active. We had him tested with all kinds of doctors when he was young. He is very intelligent. In intelligent tests he scored in the top 5% of the population. He is a talented artist. But he is disorganized, untidy, and when under stress he can be very intense. He worked for my wife’s company, a large accounting firm in Toronto. He worked in their mail room for four years. And then he was fired. For being so intense. They had a policy in the mailroom of not talking to our son. Our son thought it might have been because he was a visual minority. He got along fine with most of the people he worked with but they were afraid to talk to him lest they be centred out as well. (We learned this from one of the girls who worked in the mailroom.) Our son’s boss did not like his attitude, his intensity. She was put off by all the symptoms (though minor) of his tourettes. They sent our son to an anger management interview. The psychiatrist who spoke to him (over several interviews) told him that he didn’t have anger problems. Nevertheless, our son lost his job. At this same time this accounting firm was running a campaign to support the investigation and education of the public on tourette syndrome. A couple of weeks after our son left the company, the woman that fired him asked my wife for a donation to the tourette program. She was in charge of the campaign for the company. This is the way big corporations work.



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