Originally posted 10/03/2013
Reposted in honor of Rowdy Roddy Piper
In honor of Down syndrome Awareness month, allow me to further introduce Josh. I’ve talked many times about his love of music, costumes, and all things “Rock Star,” but what else is there to know about Josh? Plenty!
While I was in graduate school in Toronto, Josh and I took a trip downtown. We rode the bus, and saw some sights, and even had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe (one of Josh’s favorite places. Okay, mine too!) The main reason we were there was to go to a Blue Jays game. We went to many Orioles games in Maryland (GO Cal Ripken!) but we hadn’t seen a game in Canada. The biggest surprise for Josh though was that before the game, three WWE stars were going to be there: Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, “Mean” Gene Okerlund, AND “Rowdy” Roddy Piper!
He was beside himself. Our lives revolve around what night Raw, Smack Down, or whatever version of WWE is currently available. When he takes his medicine in the morning, it’s always the same routine. He tells me what day it is, and whether or not wrestling is on that night. He can tell you the names of his current favorite, (past honors have gone to The Undertaker, and John Morrison) and all the current contenders, along with their story line, and most importantly, what they wear, their hairstyle, and who they are dating/married to. A poster of the women (WWE Divas) has been on his wall for years. Every Christmas, what he wants is “the new game.” WWE has put out a video game for the past several years and he waits for the new one each year. BUT! He doesn’t actually play the game – he watches it run the demo, over, and over, and over.
When we lived in Syracuse, NY, he attended a few courses at the community college that were designed for adults with developmental disabilities. One of them was all about the WWE. Finally, he had someone to talk to about all the “people” in his life (and there were quite a few students in the class who had Down syndrome). It was great!
Back to the baseball game…
The night of the game, he was so excited. I didn’t know what to expect from the stadium, but I should have guessed that we were going to have problems at dinner. The Hard Rock is built inside the stadium and there’s a beautiful view of the field from some of the tables. We were early and it wasn’t very crowded, so the waitress gave us a perfect seat. Within a few minutes I noticed that Josh was fidgeting and looked very uncomfortable. The view, and the height, was making him nervous. The waitress moved us away from the window, and he was back to his normal self, loving all the memorabilia on the walls and taking his sweet time eating his fries. (Eating is another thing that takes Josh FOREVER to do. He’s very meticulous and savors every bite. Don’t plan on going out to eat with him and doing anything afterward unless you allow PLENTY of time.) He told me that the seat was better, and he’d just “ignore it” by looking the other way.
Once we finished, we made our way to the bleachers. To say our seats were in the “nose bleed” section was an understatement. We started to climb the stairs and I noticed that not only was he gripping the rails extremely tightly, but his legs were actually shaking. He’s a trouper, and rather than miss his chance to see the wrestlers he kept trying to get there. It didn’t take long for me to realize this wasn’t going to work. I’m usually a very quiet person (in public), one of those who will look around for hours before I actually force myself to ask directions, but in this case, I had no choice. I got Josh out of the stands and found an usher. As Josh tried to recover his composure, I asked the usher if there was somewhere we could watch the pre-game events because Josh obviously couldn’t sit in our assigned seats. The usher was very understanding and led us to some much lower seats where we could watch the whole game. (Yes, I felt guilty, like I had used the “disability card,” but he was so looking forward to seeing them and physically unable to reach our assigned seats…)
All in all, it was a great outing, but the first time I realized that he was genuinely afraid of heights. I don’t think he realized it before then either. Ever since, if you ask him about doing something that involves heights, he’ll tell you NO! in no uncertain terms.
So that’s my Josh story for today – Thursday – and yes, it’s a wrestlin’ night!