They Tic’d All The Right Boxes

, , , , | Hopeless | June 23, 2017

(My friends and I, all in our late teens, all somewhat goth/punk looking, had gone to see one of the Final Destination movies in the cinema. For those who missed them, they’re basically movies about people dying in the most ridiculous ways possible. Afterwards, we decide to grab some dinner and go to a nearby pizza place — a bit more fancy than we usually frequent, but open late and tasty. There is only one other group of people at a nearby table, and one of the men seems to suffer from tics. It is impossible not to notice since one involved him randomly shouting “HA!” every few minutes. The first time that happens we look over, but realizing that his friends seem to take it as normal, we ignore them. I happened to have watched a documentary on Tourette syndrome just the night before, so I figure we shouldn’t ruin his night by staring. My friends and I never discuss it, but simply pay attention to our own conversation. As the other group gets up to leave, the guy with the tics and a woman come over to our table. We shut up immediately, realizing our conversation had become quite loud and rowdy (what with being in high spirits and discussing all the ways in which people could die in the middle of a restaurant…) and we think they are about to tell us off.)

Man: “Hey, guys, I just wanted to thank you for leaving us in peace tonight and not making a big deal of my tics.”

Friend #1: “Oh, but you shouldn’t thank us. It’s common courtesy, isn’t it?”

Man: “You’d think so, but most people stare at what they don’t know.”

Friend #2: “Maybe that’s it. I watched a show about Tourette syndrome just the other night, and they interviewed several people who have it.”

Friend #3: “Wait, you watched that show, too?”

Me: “So did I… Wow, that’s odd. It was really interesting, though!”

(The man was looking increasingly happy listening to our exchange, but it was the woman next to him who started laughing. She gave him a little shove and he smiled sheepishly, then mimed polishing a shoe. How did we know what the movement meant? Well…)

Friend #1: “Hang on. That was you in the programme, wasn’t it.”

Man: “Um, yeah.”

Woman: “And he’s been so nervous about the show airing, you wouldn’t believe it. He was afraid people would make fun of him.”

(We all assured him that he had no reason to be nervous or ashamed or anything. It WAS a good show that illustrated the various tics people might suffer from and how it impacted all areas of their lives, and shame was a big part of it. As they left you could tell the guy was much happier, and we were simply stunned that without discussing it, we’d all happened to watch the same show and draw the same conclusions from it… AND happened to meet that guy that night.)

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