Timmy just moved into an apartment down the hall. I see him often in the laundry room, in the foyer waiting for a ride, and walking down the hill toward downtown. He is around 30, short, slim, with very short black hair, greased back, a long face, prominent ears, and big veiny hands always clasped together as if in prayer, unless he's carrying something. He's always smiling.
"Hi, Timmy," I always say. "What are you doing today?"
"Hi, Boomer," he answers in a monotone. "I'm going to work" or "I'm doing laundry" or "I'm waiting for my friend."
When he's going to work, he always wears a pale blue long-sleeved shirt and a clip-on black tie. Otherwise he always wears a very tight t-shirt, yellow or blue. Nice chest.
Something is definitely off about Timmy, but I can't figure out what. His reactions are slow, his movements are a little jerky, and he doesn't understand unless you use short sentences and simple words. Autism?
I look him up on Facebook. He's a high school graduate, he likes country-western music, he has 27 friends, and he works at Rehabilitation Services, which provides jobs for people with intellectual disabilities.
I call my friend Ross in the Psychology Department: intellectual disabilities, what we used to call "mental retardation," affect 2-3% of the population. 90% have "mild" or "moderately impaired cognition." They aren't good at abstract thought and higher-level reasoning, they need predictability and structure, but they can do almost everything the rest of us can: work, live alone, handle everyday problems, and have social relationships.
Timmy is very cute....
Tales of West Hollywood.