A Watershed Day?

Nate’s memory is unimpeachable. He’ll whip out random facts – “Hey Dad, do you remember October 4, 2001 when we went to the Regal Cinema in Lincolnshire and saw Max Keeble’s Big Move” – and if you check you’ll find that, yes, Max Keeble’s Big Move was released on October 4, 2001. It’s remarkable.

And yet, there are details he delivers that seem true at face value, but they aren’t. Just look at his strip mall drawings. It took until last month when we sat down to label his works that I found out that most are a product of fantasy. Who would create such a realistic, mundane scene of Walmarts, KFCs and Dunkin’ Donuts and have them turn out to be the stuff of dreams? That’s Nate.

So I listen to Nate and I think I can tell what is totally true and what is mostly false. It’s tricky. A few days ago he dropped a bombshell on Karen that I’m still working my way through.

I’ve only read one of Temple Grandin’s books, I can’t remember which. In that memoir, Grandin related how, as she got older, she was able to discuss what she was feeling as a younger, uncommunicative, autistic child. Nate began that self-reflection years ago. It really helps us all understand the scope of what we’ve gone through as a family, to finally get some answers on a period that is still clouded in mystery.

“On January 6, 1998, my brain cells got fixed,” Nate told Karen. He went on to say that he heard a Coolio song and understood everything.

It could very well be true that Nate had an epiphany of sorts. There are lots of incidents along that line. Nate often says the word “sominy,” which makes no sense. A while back he told us that when he saw the preview for Disney’s The Rescuers Down Under, they said “somewhere in Australia,” which he thought was “sominy.” If that is true, and it is, then it would make total sense for him to realize a moment when everything became clear.

The next day after he laid this monumental bit of news on us, I pressed him a bit, wondering whether it was through Coolio that words began to make sense. No, he told me, it was through TV that his first bits of understanding came, via random Disney cartoons.

Is it so? Could January 6, 1998 been the day that changed our lives, that when it happened we were completely unaware of the change? It could very well be. Though Nate makes some stuff up, it’s usually unwise to challenge his recall.

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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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