Most of us gain a hefty portion of our sociological experience from watching some kind of glowing screen. People in Minnesota have based much of their collective knowledge of black culture on New Jack City and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Hollywood stereotypes have led many people to believe that people from India are extremely talkative, really enjoy Bollywood dancing and will blind a child for financial gain at a moment’s notice. (Actually, that stuff is true, except for that last bit, which may be exaggerated). 95% of Americans believe that Jack from Will & Grace is an accurate depiction of the average gay male. The impact of the big screen and the boob tube extend further than just generalizations about race/religion/whatnot – I, for one, have gleaned much of my knowledge of rare medical disorders from watching Rob Schneider movies. This prepared me well for Tuesday night.
As my courageous battle against fatness raged on, I walked into a “spin” class at our local melting pot of a gym. Attending this gym provides daily exposure to diversity – not just of culture/lifestyle, but also of opinion. Such as what constitutes appropriate attire at a gym; whereas I prefer the midwestern white guy uniform of shorts and workout shirt, many of the inhabitants of my gym think that tighty-whities are cool to wear as their sole lower body garments. And diversity as to what is the appropriate amount of singing/dancing to be done while on the treadmill. I digress.
Anyway, as I walked into this class, I heard a gentleman yelling out “Hup! Hup!” – this would not have struck me as unusual except for the fact that the class wasn’t starting for like seven minutes. I walked over to my SO’s bike and noticed the yeller was stationed to her left. She had a somewhat panicked look on her face as she immediately suspected I was going to do something irrational, like give the guy a dirty look. Thanks to Deuce Bigalow and Curb Your Enthusiasm, I immediately knew what this was: my first encounter with an actual Tourette’s Syndrome sufferer. (It’s apparently actually Tourette Syndrome, no possessive, but I prefer familiarity over accuracy).
Tourette’s is almost always played for laughs, depicted as inconvenient but also handy as an alibi for occasionally inappropriate behavior. There are certainly other considerations and issues, but let’s face it, having a fucking syndrome of any kind (except maybe some of that Freudian shit like Peter Pan Syndrome) is typically pretty bad news. Tourette’s is pretty much at the inflection point on the range of syndromes where shit gets pretty terrible, pretty quickly.
SO’s friend Peter was also going to be in the class, so I asked “where’s Peter” as I walked up to SO, confident that TV had prepared me for what was gonna go down. Then Tourette’s guy starts yelling “Peter! Peter!” exactly as you would expect someone with Tourette’s to do. When Peter walked in, he was pretty shocked to see a random person yelling his name. Internally, hilarity ensued.
The Tourette’s guy was actually pretty cool – he gave SO a disclaimer as he sat down next to her, saying he has Tourette’s and yells stuff occasionally and will stop at some point in the class and stare to his right for like 30 seconds. Humorously, when our teacher asked another girl her name and Tourette’s guy heard it, he started yelling “Jenny! Jenny!” and then announced to everyone that he repeats peoples names, that it’s annoying as fuck to him and he wishes he didn’t do it. The class itself was pretty uneventful, as there is occasionally unexpected yelling in any spin class; TG inadvertently spit water all over the place and kicked his leg completely out of the pedal strap thingee a couple times, but it was all harmless cardio fun.
In the end, he seemed like a good guy dealing with a serious pain in the ass syndrome. And it was even pretty much like it’s depicted onscreen, complete with some unintended hilarity. SO thought it might be cool to have a friend with Tourette’s, so she may take that up as a cause like Chelsea Handler does with little people. I’m looking forward to seeing him at another class soon, if for no other reason than to ask “where’s Ima Whore?”
Keep warm – I recommend some booze and don’t waste any potential if you can help it,