The Outsiders

by NMSilber

So I was at a neighborhood block party the other day, minding my own business perusing the sixteen varieties of potato salad represented to attempt to guess which might be the least crunchy, when an explosion sent  me to the pavement making what novelists would likely describe as a “keening wail.”  After a moment of complete silence, a hand reached down to help me up, and the kid who had popped the stupid balloon five feet away from me was dragged over by her mom to apologize. Everybody went back to talking and before long the beer fueled karaoke was in fill swing and the the whole thing was forgotten.

Later, while pacing before bed, (helps me to relax), I thought about how amazing it actually was.  It had happened so many times when I was growing up.  A noise that hurt my ears and scared me caused me to have an extreme reaction and in response I had been laughed at, made fun of, “redirected,” punished, studiously ignored, you name it, but nobody had ever helped me up and apologized before.   Who ARE these people living on my block I wondered.  Why did they in particular treat me with more dignity?

When I moved to this neighborhood I was a little nervous.  I don’t really fit in anywhere very well but I knew that I didn’t have much in common at all with the people on my street.  There are all kinds of folks here.  They represent a veritable melting pot of nationalities and racial backgrounds.  There’s a family with two moms; there are a few with no dad; there’s a couple who I am pretty sure used to be bikers and a guy who I think I saw manning a Lyndon Larouch table once.  It’s an interesting bunch but I wasn’t sure that they would “get” an Autistic person, so even though I can “pass” I was a little hesitant to even attend this party.  I’m glad I did.

I think that the key is that all of these folks could possibly have been considered “outsiders” in some way.   They were members of minority groups and even though they were different groups they still “got” what it feels like to be on the outside.   Or maybe they just thought I was drunk, but I personally prefer the first explanation.