I was sitting in the car with my cousin James, at the same Radio Shack parking lot where Dad did his drunken Ukrainian folk dancer routine. We were just sitting there, waiting for somebody at the bank I think. It was a warm day, so we had the windows down and we were watching the people coming and going from Tim Horton's. We were a couple of 'geniuses' with nothing to do but get ourselves into trouble.
For those who haven't met my cousin James, he's one of those people who will say or do anything just to see what kind of reaction he gets.
So he's looking out the window when this teenage boy starts running towards us from the far end of the parking lot.
James says, "Look at that guy. He runs like a retard!"
I look and see that the boy is in fact running rather oddly.
James loudly comments on this guys lack of running skill and again uses the word "retarded".
Then the boy gets close to us and it hit us.
"Oh my God." said James, "He is retarded."
The boy was in fact someone with disabilities, struggling his way across the parking lot despite his limitations.
"I'm going to hell." said James.
We started howling with laughter.
I was thinking about this story and I remembered that both James and I were in the "gifted" program in school. At the time we thought it meant we were awesome. We loved it. Eventually though we realized that it was really a special needs program. Many kids with higher intelligence or atypical academic skills have a hard time with social interactions. (For those of you who didn't understand my last sentence; we were nerds.)
So the gifted program was less of an opportunity for us to explore our "gifts" and more of a program to sublimate our unproductive behaviours into more useful pursuits.
I don't think it worked.
I'm still a nerd.
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