I spent Wednesday evening over at Mark’s house. I went there after decompressing for an hour once the school day ended. We went up to his room and played video games until his father came home for dinner. We would have played in the living room with the bigger TV, but his brother was watching it and we couldn’t risk upsetting him. Mark usually beats me whenever we play anything on his console; I mostly play PC games but I can’t drag my desktop all the way to his house. We play computer games together online, but in person its better just to use a console. The problem I have is that I’m still much better with a keyboard and mouse than I am with a controller, even after years of playing with Mark. But he can practice every day, and I only come over once every few weeks on average.
It was Mark’s mother’s turn to make dinner since she had to take his brother home from school. The food was fine; having Mark and his brother as children and me as a semi-frequent guest means that both his parents avoid making meals that may evoke sensory response issues. Well, there were a couple of times in the past where Mark’s brother found something upsetting, but they have very little control over that. After dinner Mark and I went back up to his room to finish the game we were playing, then after about half an hour I went home. I might have stayed the night, but I knew that if I did I would risk being woken up if Mark’s brother had a meltdown and I didn’t want to deal with going to school sleep-deprived.
Mark doesn’t like to talk about his brother much. I think he mostly view him as an annoyance. He’s even more different to Mark than Paul is, just in the opposite direction. I don’t know if there’s any hope of him living outside of his house or in a group facility, but the odds aren’t in his favor. Less than a quarter of the people who go through the lower schools get any kind of job in order to pay for at least part of their care. And since their care involves many more people and a lot more money, I can only think of a couple prominent savants that can pay all the money they need to in order to live independently. Government-run or charity care facilities have been getting better over the years, but you’d still rather not have to live in them. The quarters are cramped, the walls are thin, and most importantly the staffing is inadequate and you know that’s not going to get any better. Well, unless we get a whole lot more qualified immigrants with the patience to deal with people like him. There might always need to be somebody to help dress him, feed him, and clean him, and that’s not an easy job. I don’t know how his parents do it, or how long they’ll be able to keep it up.
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My mother and I went to the department store to buy clothes on Saturday. Not so much exciting as incredibly irritating for both of us. At least when I stop growing soon I won’t have to buy as many new clothes. I’m big enough to wear some of my father’s old shirts, but they’re incredibly uncomfortable. They all have tags, and even when you try and cut the tags off there’s still a bit of it left that tends to feel like its jabbing right into your neck. And some of the shirts have buttons, which means I have to get a T-shirt to wear under them anyway because they bother me, and most are long-sleeved which sometimes makes my arms feel like they’re suffocating. At least his pants mostly fit me and are comfortable, Mark has the same problems with full-length pants that I do with long sleeves. The problem with that is that I can wear a loose coat to cover my arms in the winter, but he has to wear large bulky snow pants through most of the fall and into the spring. My mother mostly has issues with certain fabrics; she can’t stand wearing anything made with wool for example. At least I don’t have their problems too.
To be honest, the whole shopping experience was exhausting. First, you have to find the section your clothes are in, then you have to see if you can find clothes that might fit you, then you have to try them on to see if they do. Since clothes don’t come in every size, they are never going to fit perfectly. For example, if you have a 33-inch waist, do you get 32-inch or 34-inch pants? I suppose you could get the 34-inch ones and have the waist adjusted, but then the rest of the upper section of the pants is still designed for person with a larger waist. And then there’s the fact that even when they are the same brand and size sometimes clothes have slight differences, so even when you find one that fits you still have to try on others that should be exactly the same but aren’t.
So the entire process is trying on one ill-fitting piece of clothing after another, which must be a pain normally but is even more so when you have touch sensitivities. At least shirts aren’t made with loose tags anymore. Luckily, I was able to find three shirts and a couple of pairs of pants, and they’ll hopefully last me for at least a year. My mother also found what she was looking for, so she took our clothes to the checkout computer and we were finally able to leave. In case you were wondering, yes my parents buy my clothes. For one thing, I don’t have a job so I don’t have much money outside of Christmas and birthday gifts. But more importantly, if they didn’t pay for the clothes I’d just keep wearing the ones I own even as they stop fitting just so I don’t have to go through this process again.
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In fact, Paul is not like us. His parents both came from Christian Science backgrounds and didn’t take any pain relievers as kids. By the 80s his grandparents had become regular boring Protestant yuppies so they weren’t as afraid to use modern medical conveniences. He moved here from an immigrant neighborhood in the city because his mother got a job at the local bank. Also, his parents felt like getting away from the city and into a larger house in the suburbs. Since his old neighborhood has a lot of immigrants, he had lots of friends that were more like him instead of us. It does explain why Paul has all the answers in Spanish class; it turns out he is fluent after using the language so often with his friends from his home town. But coming to a town with a limited number of kids like him, including nobody in our grade, is hard on him.
Now that I think about it, I wonder why there aren’t many immigrants in our town. There have been many successful ones since the standards were relaxed over a dozen years ago, so I don’t think money is the problem. But I guess people want to stay with others like them, which I can understand considering the treatment Paul is getting from people here. It’s the same with whole towns that are entirely made up of people like him and carry on with a lifestyle that seems odd compared to the rest of the country. Their schools have no safe rooms, the students have to sit in lectures the entire period, and there’s an emphasis on group projects, presentations, and busy work. It sounds like a nightmare. There’s also a complete lack of public transportation if it isn’t an urban area and some people constantly throw parties that prevent their neighbors from sleeping or working. But that’s the way they used to do things, and even here we sometimes have to deal with the old methods.
Unfortunately for Paul, he’s going to have to do a lot of adjusting coming to our town. He’s already begun to speak up less in classes that aren’t Spanish, he shares less when our history teacher still asks us what we did during the weekend, and other kids aren’t complaining that he’s annoying them with greeting them in the hallway all the time. He says that in his old town kids were always chatting in the hallways on their way to class, and sometimes couldn’t make it to class even when given five minutes. I’ve very rarely seen anyone late for class here even though we have four minutes. I thought it might be because our school was smaller, but he said they’re about the same size. I guess when we’re told that we have four minutes to get to class; it means to us that we have four minutes to go to class and nothing else. It’s just another small difference that Paul has to get used to.
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I’m going to invite Paul, the new kid, to sit with us at lunch. So far he’s been sitting by himself, which I can’t imagine is pleasant for him considering his apparent background. It’s being spread around that he’s not a typical member of the Missing Generation, which is not a name I would have chosen but none of us had any say in the matter. The way he acts makes me believe it’s true; it’s more like you or my father. If it is true, then he would probably want company during lunch. Unfortunately, a lot of the other students still have weird ideas about people like him. Some believe they can read other people’s minds, or that they are all potential criminals.
For a generation of people who are supposed to be rational and analytical thinkers, these are really strange thoughts. First there’s the mind reading, which is silly even though it’s rooted in the fact that people like you can do things like read facial expressions better than we can. This does lead to the more rational fear that they will use that to take advantage of us, but that doesn’t mean that they will. You can’t assume the worst of people, which again they do by thinking that everyone like Paul is always about to commit a crime. Criminals make up a tiny part of any population; you don’t see countries like Canada or Great Britain overrun with crime despite them and every other country having very few people like us. And yes, they do have a reputation for talking about nonsense a lot and can remember less than us, but they also don’t have nearly as many meltdowns or talk about their pet topics like we do. They’re just different, and we can recognize that without demonizing it. After all, irrationally disregarding evidence is what led to the painkiller scare in the first place. Luckily, both Mark and Kat understand these things, so they agreed to let Paul sit with us. We’ll see how it goes.
I think it started when many parents began to realize that their children were different than those born even a few years earlier, so they made up scare tactics in order to make their kids seem like the normal ones. Technically, they’re right at about this generation in America because we’re the majority, but I meant normal compared to the rest of the world. It’s the same thing when they try to compare us to major figures like Einstein even though if you read about him he was very different from us in many, many ways. Having inspiring stories is one thing, but spreading false hope based on misrepresenting facts that you can easily look up on Wikipedia is another. If someone learns that they’re like Einstein, they might believe that they’re going to be the next Einstein as a child. Then, because they don’t have Einstein’s abilities, they’re going to be very disappointed when they grow up and they are getting fired from a job organizing files. There have been successful people like us born since 1975, so we don’t need to look up to somebody who might have had similar aspects.
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