By Ronald Brady and Joseph Casarez
On the spectrum, like the colors of the rainbow. Many colors, many facets. That’s how I see myself. The outside world sees my lack of social inclination and my oddities. When I was a kid on the playground, I would imagine myself soaring like a bird flapping my arms and utter bliss. I forgot people watching, “retard!” That’s the word they used to describe me. You’re probably thinking, “but he looks so normal.” We’ve all heard that looks can be deceiving, but it’s funny… Right now, I’m on stage. Here in the theater, department I’m surrounded by some of the most talented actors and actresses I’ve ever met, but there’s a difference between them and me, you know. When they go home, their time on the stage is over. Mine never ends. I’m on stage all the time, always playing a role. I wrote a little reflec tion about the challenges of being on the spectrum, a peek behind the curtain… The greatest show on earth. the invisible disability that everyone thinks they understand because they remember that guy on Boston Legal, but no one ever sees what it’s really like, and by the end, you’ll know what I’ve been saying all my life that I am the best actor there ever was. Because I have deceived you all. The ballroom; the dancers and masks, the music and the darkness, the masks frighten; they are frozen. My face is naked, but the dancers are disguised, their eyes are shadowed by the fear of the masks they wear. The music crawls on the ground and rises to the ceiling. Laughs, chuckles and sneers drift throughout the room, making their presence known. To flow in this river of deceit, I must wear a mask and hide like they do. Colors of green, red, purple, and yellow paint the mask; an alluring item that brings forgetfulness to the one who dons it. The mask hides, but does not heal, empowers, but does not offer purpose. It whispers a wind through my cavern of thoughts, “Place me upon your face, young one. Offer the warmth of your skin and I will give you powers fit for rulers.” I place the mask on my nude face; covering my difference. The mask smiles for me. The mask controls my muscles and actions; I become a slave to its whimsy. And I go along with the dream of being the same as everyone else; I forget that my true smile resembles a monster. The mask is carved from the faces of those dancers that refused to flutter; the King desires his court to remain eternally happy. I frolic and keep the mask on, fearful of the King’s wrath. I would rather remain in terror and attempt to mimic the dancers for the King’s amusement than remain a jester of no worth.