Monday, May 26, 2008

Dioskouroi

I've seen them around ever since I can remember. They're as much a part of this city as the parks and piers - hopping on and off buses, sitting on benches downtown, walking everywhere quickly, deep in conversation. I don't think I've ever, in over twenty years of memories, seen them apart. I was away for 13 years and when I returned, I caught a glimpse of them downtown not 36 hours after my return - I knew I was home, then.

I don't think life has always been easy for them. They have a lot of friends, and they are always happy, but I'm an accomplished people-watcher and I can see how some others react to them. I sit a few bus seats back from where they do, so I can hear and see things they can't. It's pretty subtle...mostly a matter of glances exchanged, maybe the occasional whispered comment. I think I remember that it used to be worse for them than it is now.

I'm not sure what their disability is, so I can't give them a label for you. Their thick glasses tell me they don't see well, but they seem to have no other physical inhibition, even though they must be in their mid-fifties by now.

We were in a hurry when we left the house and I called my kids from the backyard where they were 'farming'. I was searching frantically for change and keeping an eye on the clock as the kids got their shoes on. We made it in time, luckily.

It was the 2.43 bus today, so the back was full of high-school students. Unable to sit where we normally do, I guided the children towards the front seats. We sat behind and across from the driver, so we could watch him operate the bus.

A few stops before our destination, they got on. Backpacks and jackets matched: in fact they are identical down to the moustaches. They had a friend with them - as well as having an intellectual disability, his speech was impaired so I couldn't understand what their conversation was about, but it was earnest and seemed important. I happened to glance to the back and, amid the chaos of teenaged conversation, teasing, and flirting, saw one kid give a little smirk to his friend.

My daughter asked me if it was time for her to pull the stop cord, and I looked over at her to answer. Suddenly noting the state of the shirt she was wearing, I exclaimed "Good grief, Charlotte, look at your shirt! It's filthy!" She gave me a rueful smile as I reached over to brush in vain at her shirt. I heard a voice across the aisle say quietly "Throw it in the laundry," and another, almost identical voice say, serenely, "it'll come out." I wasn't sure if they had intended to be heard, but I looked across and smiled at them. "Yeah but you should have seen how nice and clean she was a half hour ago!"

They were pleased at my response, and leaned forward a bit. "It doesn't take long," said one, then "no it sure doesn't" said the other. I started to laugh, surprised for the first time by twins who actually DO finish each other's sentences. "Too bad I can't throw all of her in the wash," I remarked, to their great amusement. My daughter crowed with laughter, too.

"They get dirty,"
"it's okay."

I stood up to get off at the next stop. "Well, bye now," I said, "enjoy your afternoon."

"Bye!" said one, "and you have a good day too!" said the other.

On the sidewalk again, I stopped to take stock of jackets, wallets, keys, transfers. My daughter watched the bus pull away and said, still laughing, "Those guys are sure funny and nice."

Yes, they are.

13 comments:

lizbon said...

What a wonderful story, and a great title (I had to look it up - love it).

Dave Hingsburger said...

Ah, now, that's a perfect story for me to start my day with. Loved it. There's a wee lesson there for kiddies, I hope, in time, your behaviour will become their character.

Gwen said...

Ditto to Lizbon, had to look it up.

This is a nice story to read in the midst of my transracial adoption angst. I'm not sure how to explain why this encouraged me, except that your friendly acceptance of "different" is what I'm hoping to encounter. :) oooooh, I love you.

Brenda said...

Great story Shannon! Of course this had me wondering who these two were, and I think I know. If they are who I they think they are, they grew up in the same subdivision as my husband. And they are always friendly and cheerful, we could all learn from them.

Tabatha said...

Fabulous post! Fabulous!

Nicole said...

Very cool story. Thanks for sharing!

lizbon said...

Okay, on reading the comments, something else occurs to me, which is that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who accept people who are "different" in some way, and those who make fun of them for it (or behave in some other cruel fashion) because they feel threatened by difference. It's been that way as long as I can remember, and I imagine for a lot longer than that.

myrrien said...

what a lovely story, I have this big grin on my face. Thank you.

Shan said...

"because they feel threatened" - too right. Prejudice comes from fear.

In my opinion.

clumsy ox said...

So I guess a LOT of people fear me...

Annalea said...

Yet another reason to keep one's children out of the mass schooling system.

When you have 30+ children of the same age in one room, they don't have the natural hierarchy of age to differentiate them--so they resort to tactics with which most of us are all-too familiar. Just imagine 30 people in the same room ranging in age between three and eighty, and then imagine a room of 30 children within a year of each other in age. Such a different feeling from each of those images . . . and I've got a baby to feed, so I'm outta here. ;o)

Belinda said...

How skillfully you painted the picture on the bus for us and captured a moment in time that was beautiful.

Anonymous said...

yes, you do describe the scene beautifully. I had a similar experience a few years ago whilst in the audience of a traditional irish singer called Sean O'Se. A young man with Down's Syndrome was enjoying the music so much, I asked him to dance. His mother told me later that they had been coming to the same gig every month but he was always too shy to dance and I had made his night. I explained that I had both an aunt and uncle with special needs and it was normal for me not to feel different in their presence. I think it was the result of having a healthy attitude to people of different abilities at a young age. Carry on dear Shan, you are educating your babies and they will lead by example. xxx Sue