On the Road

Nate’s continuing path to the land of socially acceptable behavior has its detours.

The two of us went to Price Chopper for a few grocery needs. When we entered, Nate headed right to dispose of our recyclables. I was planning to help him, but ran into a friend and her young daughter, intensely perusing the Red Box monitor for a movie. We started talking about movies and local politics, when Nate let our a deep, loud “FUUUCCCKK.”

What disaster could cause such an outburst? The machine for glass bottles was full. Typically out of proportion Nate reaction, but we all took it in stride. Kinda. There was a decent amount of shock on the face of the little girl, and the mom said, “I’ve never heard that from Nate.” I explained cursing was actually a constant occurrence. No problem really, and Nate took off with a cart to the ice cream section, where he began to load up on single serve treats. The amount he poured into the cart alarmed the little girl, who reported it to me right away as I talked with her mom.

So, there’s that, but where Nate has improved dramatically over the years is in his growing empathy for others. Thinking to Nate as a boy, and how thoroughly disengaged he was, and seeing him now, usually concerned with people’s feelings and gauging the effects of his actions, is a change worthy of noting.

Just one example. We had a family movie night, all of us but Rob who was out with friends. Nate loads up on DVDs when it’s his birthday or Hannukah. How to Train Your Dragon has been sitting on the shelf for months. That was the evening’s selection and Nate got into his movie-watching routine: two bags of microwave popcorn in a huge wooden bowl, a smaller cereal bowl full of candy, and a glass of ice water with a straw. He sprawled out on the floor, a couple of self-created Word documents at arm’s length. Then, he grabbed the DVD remote to set the subtitles that he discovered on his own helped his comprehension.

SPOILER ALERT:

Near the end of the movie, the main character Hiccup was, perhaps, dead. Nate grew alarmed.

“Hiccup’s not dead, is he?” It was beautiful to hear. Sometimes it’s hard to know if Nate is really paying attention or, even if he is, is following along. Clearly he was deeply into the story and very much worried about the hero. And the fact that he expressed his fears so concisely and so well has Karen and I still talking.

And so we journey on…

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About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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