Sunday, April 22, 2007

Imagine my horror.

It was a typical Saturday afternoon trip to the grocery with Elliot. I walked in and immediately meandered over to the produce. As I held my still green bananas (they were all green, AS AM I), a young man approached to get a closer look at Elliot. “What a beautiful baby,” he said, slurring his words just a bit. “He is really handsome.”

“Thank you,” I said, backing up guardedly as I am still petrified about the ever present microorganisms and my preemie.

The young man, short in stature, with eyes that resembled that of my dear Elliot’s and a tongue that protruded slightly, went on to tell me that his name was Christopher and he worked at the grocery.

“Pardon me, but I am not wearing my badge and smock, but I really do work here,” he gleefully mentioned.

“Did you happen to see the article in last week’s newspaper about me and how my mom made my thirty-first birthday really special,” he asked.

“No,” I said, “but I will certainly search for it online.”

Christopher stood...as if he couldn’t move and was utterly mesmerized by my Elliot.

And the words that rolled out of my mouth should have never been articulated, but they were.

I asked dear Christopher if he had Down syndrome.

“No, miss, I am perfectly healthy.” “Why do you ask?”

I went on to dig a deeper hole. I then told Christopher that he reminded me of Elliot. He just looked at me a little dumbfounded. I said that he was really handsome too! Christopher smiled merrily and told me that a grown woman had never referred to him as a handsome person. He thanked me and told me to have a nice day. He was then on his way.

I did find the article that Christopher referenced in our local newspaper’s web archives. Christopher was born 7 weeks premature and nearly died, and his mother has (to this day) celebrated each and every day in March as Christopher’s birthday...giving him a special gift every day of the month. It was a beautiful feature about a beautiful young man. A young man, who, despite what I assume was a minuscule amount of brain damage, knew exactly what it meant to have Down syndrome, and knew precisely that he did NOT have the condition. He took my blunder in stride; however, I will forever eat the words that I uttered to this truly fantastic young man. Never again will I open my mouth so candidly.

3 comments:

amy flege said...

awww what a great story michelle.....
christopher sounds like someone i would love to meet!!!! i would be going back to the store to see him!!!!

Jeff said...

Michelle

That is a great story. Don't worry about the minor hick up as I am sure he will long remember that you said he was handsome over asking if he had ds.

Make sure you go back to that store often.

Shannon said...

Oh, it sounds like you made his day not offended him! Great story!