I had a moment—an amazing, pivotal, out-of-body experience—that made me sit back and look at my son with overwhelming admiration.
Jonathan is working on making our audio Dorktales into a one man live show and he wants a director to help him rehearse and add the finishing touches to his performance. We got a recommendation for a potential director, someone Jonathan’s never met or worked with on stage, but who has the right qualifications for putting together a one-man show for children. Together, we went to meet him at a local café to see if he was the right fit.
But before I continue, I’d like to take you back to earlier days…
In public, Jonathan preferred it if he wasn’t the center of attention. At a restaurant, he’d play quietly in his seat with a favorite toy while everyone else at the table engaged in lively conversation. At parties, he was the kid who happily paced back and forth in a corner engrossed in his own self play and conversation.
When he spoke, it was about his interests and the conversations were one-way only—an information dump of facts—delivered with eyes diverted and a staccato cadence. If interrupted, he’d have to start from the beginning or become quite anxious and upset.
Now back to my story…
We arrived at the café, a few minutes early and chose a table with a view to the front so we wouldn’t miss his arrival. When he walked through the door, I said to Jonathan, “I think this is him” and, without any prompting from me, he stood up, extended his hand and welcomed him to our table.
There’s always an awkward moment when you meet someone for the first time and have to start talking—but—to my surprise—not for Jonathan. He had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye as we all talked, establishing some common ground. At one point in the conversation, I sat back letting the two of them engage and that’s when it hit me—my epiphany!
Oh my God,” I thought, “Jonathan’s THE guy…he’s the witty raconteur! He’s brilliant, well-read and can participate in—even lead—interesting, thoughtful, smart conversations. He’s a modern Mark Twain. A Will Rogers-like humorist. He’s the kind of guy you’d want at a party—someone who can break the ice and make everyone feel welcome.
I flashed on other moments—like the time he worked the room at Molly’s recital while Dave, Molly and I huddled in a corner drinking punch and nibbling cookies. When he made his way back over to us, he beamed in earnest to share who was who and what was what. Or the time I caught Jonathan “holding court” during a post-jazz concert reception at my parents’ house. He was indeed the center of attention to a small crowd of guests he didn’t really know very well. I’m not sure what he was saying to them, but they were hanging on his every word and laughing hysterically.
When did this metamorphous happen?
Well, it’s been in the making for over a decade. Jonathan’s learned to be interested in others and interesting in his storytelling. He loves literature, movies and pop culture. And his depth of knowledge in these areas (and his incredible memory) make it easy for him to land on a subject someone likes and…have a pleasant discussion about it.
What began as his Asperger’s infodump is now his keen ability as an entertaining conversationalist. And the guy who never wanted to be noticed has turned into a twenty-first century bard.