Friday, September 18, 2009


My favorite Baptist once warned me about Ci-Ci's Pizza. Somehow, back in 1996 or 97, he got wrangled into going to one. Something with a youth group, if I remember correctly. He returned from the adventure like a New England captive's arrival home after some quality time with the Indians. "It's awful. It's loud," he cried. "Yelling children everywhere. Don't let it happen to you."

I was at Ci-Ci's tonight. It's one of the only restaurants Martin can manage. We take him there as a reward for good behavior. Fourteen smile faces earn pizza, or ice cream, or a special movie with the rest of the family. I always think of my favorite Baptist when I visit Ci-Ci's. It seems that now, more than a decade later, the place has more construction workers and football players than children. You can get a free drink if you bring in your church bulletin. It has Wi-fi. Where Ci-Ci's might have once been a horror, now it's just surreal.

When I'm in places like Ci-Ci's, I'm secretly glad that Martin's mind is so impenetrable. He has no idea that he could ask to play video games, beg for candy from the machines, or watch the television. He simply does his routine. He asks the cashier for pizza (usually starting his request with the line, "Hello, cashier"). Then he eats two slices of cheese pizza, three carrots, and a brownie. He sits in the seat of the one of the video games for a few minutes. Then he is ready to go. He is unfazed by the moms talking sternly to their children. He doesn't notice all the awful stories on CNN as it plays endlessly.

I hope that we can find things that make the best out of Martin's focus. I once read a story about a guy with Asperger's who got fired from any job that required multitasking. Then he got a job editing and writing introductions for medieval poetry volumes. He could throw himself into it. He loved it and he was good at it. Maybe Martin can be a monk, or a science researcher, or a builder. Maybe he'll draw comics or become a surfer. Whatever it is, I think it will be one thing. And he'll take that one thing with him wherever he goes. And it will be the thing most present to him, even in crazy and noisy places like Ci-Ci's.


  1. How about this one. I read an article recently arguing that Sherlock Holmes displays classic Aspergers. Get him interested in types of tobacco ash and the rest is history.

  2. I'm having flashbacks as I read this. i think i may have CiCi's PTSD.

  3. Interesting--this makes me wonder how many of the theologians we read were (what we now call) autistic!!! How would this change the way we look at the formation of Christian doctrine?