The setting was a local beer house that we commonly frequent. We had dear friends with us including a mother and father and their daughter and autistic son. My wife and I were there with our autistic boy and his sister and we were winding down an evening of Garlic, Brie, beer, and frivolity.
Just from behind our table a polo shirted numb nuts started screaming into his phone.
We glanced over in concern, I personally thought another public figure had bit the dust too early. With the almost simultaneous double loss of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington I figured maybe Morrissey died while ziplining. Our concern was short-lived however because of the chain of events that would soon unfold in rapid succession. My friends boy hollered out “OH NAWWWW” in a gleeful imitation.
Now let’s pause time shall we? As parents of children who are on the spectrum we are very familiar with their vocal tics, characteristics, and basically identifying acts that separate them just slightly from a neurotypical child. The absence of social cues and the tendency to imitate is something we call echolalial behavior and is extremely common. What it basically means is a child will suddenly repeat something they’ve heard whether it’s appropriate or not. Keep in mind the volume of this imitation varies from quiet whisper to thunderous scream. My friend’s son was somewhere in the middle when he hollered out “OH NAWWW!”
For this distressed man, there was absolutely no mistaking the fact that mockery from a child had just occurred. Not only had it occurred but was directed specifically at whatever tragic event had just befallen our hero.
He whirled on our table and actually uttered these words to a nine-year-old. Forgive the paraphrasing but the intent is clear.
“Hey! Shut the fuck up you little shit!”
Playing this scenario back in my mind one day later, the advantage of no longer being in the moment allows so much more reflection. For example, I know for a fact most of you reading this have gone from a storytelling mode to a beast mode where you want to jump into the tale and beat the fucking brakes off this asshole.
And you would be right. But for the moment, our common sense and social decorum was prevailing. We could tell that this guy was heavily intoxicated, confused, obviously distressed by whatever news he had received over the phone and wasn’t thinking clearly. I actually begin to explain out loud that the boy was an innocent who simply had auti-
But I stopped myself short, because it is simply not my place to announce the conditions of anybody else’s child. But when you think about it you should not have to tell a grown man that a child has autism in order for him to not yell profanity into his face.
I think what sort of went unspoken at our table moments after the event had dissipated, was the fact that that particular gentleman probably only had 2 seconds to make his next decision. He was either going to turn on his heel and head inside the pub to find the exit which is what he did, or he would have pressed the issue and taken one step toward our table or opened his maw again when I truly believe and with no hyperbole attached, he could have died.
The boy’s father is a well-studied expert in multiple martial arts. There’s not a doubt in my mind that if this Iroq-Z driving scumbag would have even attempted to threaten our children that this guy’s jaw bone would be rammed up his asshole this very morning. I’m not sure if that’s Krav Maga or Jeet Kune Do but I know that move is in there somewhere. That’s problem one.
If by some chance the man had managed to get past my good friend, then he would have run into me. Most of you know me. I’m a very nice benevolent guy that really likes to avoid confrontation. But a violent move towards my friends or family means it’s Papa Bear time. And if that guy had decided to get my Greek Scandinavian Irish up I may have taken him to the ground and introduced his teeth to the pavement. That’s problem number two.
Problem number 3 was my wife was witnessing this exchange in semi silent immolating fury. Forget the tough guys at the table, I truly believe she was one remark away from leaping over the table and ripping this guy’s jugular out Rick Grimes Style.
In the end, the guy found himself outside drunkenly chatting and laughing with some buddies which meant that the news could not have been as horrific as he had portrayed. But if his friends were any kind of friends they wouldn’t let him get behind the wheel of his car all boozed up and drive to wherever. But that’s none of my affair. Kermit and tea.
It would be moot of me to try illustrate a point to this story or even find some kind of a moral other than the fact you simply don’t fuck with people’s children. The part that really affects me is the fact that there was such a disconnect between our table and the troubled young man. In a world where we’re constantly trying to make people understand what our children go through being on the autism spectrum, it was apparent that even if we tried to explain to any sort of degree, that the haze of alcohol and anger that had washed over this prick was not going to allow any sort of sweet reason.
A line was crossed, the whole event took maybe seven seconds, and somebody almost got put through a plate-glass window for verbally assaulting one of our kids.
He could have died.
“I’ve done unspeakable things to protect my children. I’ve never lost one night sleep over them.” -Lady Olenna Tyrell