Cloudy Judgment with a Plate of Meatballs

As much as I want to believe that Nate will be an independent person somewhere down the line, there are moments that laugh in my face. A few years ago Nate sat five feet from his bathroom, oblivious to a toilet overflowing to the extent that water was pouring down the chandelier in the dining room below. He didn’t have a clue what was going on around him. Last night at dinner showed how far removed Nate is from some basic insight.

Karen made lasagna with meatballs. I don’t know the brand of meatballs that finicky Nate enjoys, but I did have to drive him 20 miles to Oneonta on Saturday because our local supermarket doesn’t carry them. It was clear that Joey was not fond of the meatballs from a bag; his plate was clear except for an array that could fill a rack for a game of 8-ball, I wondered if Nate could pick up on what that meant.

“Nate, does Joey like the meatballs?” I asked.

“Joey, you like the meatballs,” Nate repeated.

“Uh, not really Nate,” Joey added.

It was my turn. “Nate, look at his plate. It’s filled with meatballs. Does that mean he likes them?”


“Nate, he didn’t eat any of them. Does that mean he likes them?”


“Nate,” Karen joined in, “if Joey didn’t eat his meatballs does he like them or not?”

“He doesn’t like them. Umm, I’m full now.” Conversation over. Nate left the table.

How can a kid, a 21-year-old adult, make his way in this world if he can’t decipher what a dinner plate swept clean of all food save one item means? The simplest social signs are lost on Nate.


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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