Let’s face it: kids are dicks. I was once a kid, therefore I was a dick. This passes for logic here at DadWagon. I mention this not just because our readers already know this, but more specifically, as the context of a story I want to share.
I played on the soccer team back in high school, which didn’t by definition make me a dick, except in this case it did. You know how before a sporting game the team will gather in a circle and put their hands in the center and shout something together? Well, on our team, for reasons that escape me, we didn’t shout “Team!” or “Win!” or “Fight!” We shouted “Corky!” Corky, of course, being the character with Down Syndrome played by the actor Chris Burke on the 1980s TV show “Life Goes On.” Shouting the name of an actor with a disability because it’s funny? Dick.
Fast-forward to my adulthood, in which I make some attempts not to be a dick. As it happens, the office of my former employer is in the same building as the National Down Syndrome Society, “the national advocate for the value, acceptance, and inclusion of people with Down’s Syndrome.” Not surprisingly, the NDSS employees a number of people with Down Syndrome, whom I would often share an elevator with if we happened to arrive at the same time.
From time to time, I would get on the elevator with a fellow with Down Syndrome who looked an awful lot like Chris Burke. This caused me a few problems. First, it reminded me of a moment in my life that I wasn’t proud of and would rather have forgotten. Second, it forced me to realize that I was still a dick. I think that everyone person I see with Down Syndrome is Corky! What is wrong with me? Bad, bad, bad!
This went on for several years of me seeing this guy and feeling bad and still thinking he looks like Corky and feeling worse. Eventually, I got into a conversation with the receptionist at my office, who like all receptionists worldwide, knew everything about everything (and because it was Harper’s, also happened to be a talented film director). Somehow the conversation turned to the NDSS, and I tell him what I dick I am because I think everyone with Down Syndrome looks like Corky. He looked puzzled and said, “Don’t you know? Corky, or the guy who played Corky, works for the NDSS.”
Yes, indeed, he does. As a Goodwill Ambassador. So I should feel better, right? Corky was Corky, so I’m not a dick. Nah. Still a dick.