DANNY BOY

What is up with all the Xanga defectors lately? First CapnSmirky walks out, and now Raywrites has abandoned us. Was it something we said? Too much fussing and fighting? I don’t know.

Today I thought I would tell you about someone I used to know.

My first year teaching, I had a small class of high school students, all of whom had severe mental retardation. Danny was a red-haired senior with Down Syndrome. He was a man of few words, preferring action. Specifically, Danny liked to move furniture.

I don’t mean he stole furniture, exactly. It’s not like he was stashing it in a warehouse to fence later on. He just liked to, um, relocate it.

For example: one day the audiologist who worked down the hall rang my classroom phone.

“My couch is missing,” he said.
“Missing?”
“Yes. It’s not here.”

I hung up the phone. “DANNY! Did you take Jerry’s couch?”
“Yeah.” Danny readily admitted that he had.
“Well where is it?”

With a ferocious scowl, Danny led me to a little-used storage closet. Inside was the missing couch, standing on end.

“You take that back to the audiology lab RIGHT NOW.”

Still scowling, he complied. Perhaps he thought the couch was tacky and dated, and looked better in the closet.

I was not surprised later in the school year when my phone rang again.

“Jodi,” another teacher said, “is Danny supposed to be dragging a bed down the hall?”

I hung up and stomped out of the room. Danny was supposed to be in the recycling room, crushing soda cans, but no. He was laboriously hauling the cot from the nurse’s office to god knows where.

I had a stopwatch, given to me by my grandfather. It was a beautiful device, the old fashioned kind, with a dial and a glass face. Nothing like the ugly plastic digital gizmos they make now. I left it on my desk, and it went missing.

“Danny, did you take my stopwatch?”
“Yeah,” he admitted.
“Where is it?”

But no amount of asking, demanding, or cajoling caused Danny to produce the watch. I never saw it again. In fact, I don’t think Danny took it. It was too small for him to bother moving. He was just accustomed to confessing to whatever crime he was being accused of.

Danny graduated that year, and I never saw him again either. I don’t have a profound point to make. Just an introduction to someone I knew a long time ago.

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18 thoughts on “

  1. I move furniture all the time, but only within my own house. I think it’s a means of trying to make work what obviusly doesn’t. Everytime I move it around, it feels better for a bit. But then I’m forced to acknowledge it really doesn’t fit there either. Taken to a compulsive level, your Danny tried to make things fit into a pattern none of the rest of us could see, eh?

  2. Danny could easily get a job at a furniture store.  At least he has a talent. 
    RYC:  Sorry, Jack’s mine!  I’ve grown accustomed to having everything clean.  ;P

  3. Aww! I love this story. What an interesting person he was. Thanks for sharing it. It reminded me of a book I read (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time) about an autistic boy who had to count cars to see how his day would turn out. I wonder how Danny is now.Sorry you never found your watch.

  4. I didn’t know you are a special ed teacher. I bet we’ve met. This was a wonderful sketch about this interesting young man. I know a man (with ds) who is also into moving furniture. When something goes missing we always know to ask Richie, who will show us where it has gone, always with an air of ‘doesn’t this make more sense?’. S2

  5. Great story!  I like Danny already. He sounds like a very gentle and determined sort.
    And I thinK Raywrites got a little overwhelmed with school, work, and family. I suspect he’ll be back at some point, but school seems to take up a lot of time. He drags himself into work half asleep some days (after being up all night trying to program, and watch dead people leave the building, of course). I’ll be sure to ask him about it, although I suspect he won’t tell.

  6. My husband teaches PI and EMH classes.  He has a blast with his autistic kids.  They are always doing something crazy like your Danny!  He has been teaching them for about 21 years and everyone is like a child to him.  The stories he comes home with after traveling to Special Olympics……Later, Kim

  7. When I was a student teacher, my cooperating teacher gave me a stopwatch and a fisher (space) pen.  I dropped my stopwatch on the classroom floor the following year, and it broke.  In addition, a student stole my fisher pen during that same year. 
    I was upset as these items had sentimental value.  My cooperating teacher started out disliking me.  By the end of the term, he was crazy about me.  He was so fond of me and had so much faith in me. 
    It still upsets me that I no longer have those items.

  8. Danny sounds like somebody I would like to know.
    I had a MR patient who had his own odd little habit. Liked to put on clothes. I mean his clothes —all of his clothes, and everybody else’s clothes on the unit. Put on layers and layers of clothes. If the other patients closets were locked he’d settle for hospital gowns out of the laundry barrel. Have no idea why he did this. I only know that I will never forget him!

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