Special Needs Mutual
Ruth and I have an odd calling, one that I’d never heard of before: we’re counselors for the special needs mutual. It’s exactly what it sounds like—once a week, all the special needs “youth” in the area get together to sing hymns and do activities and stuff, and we’re there to assist them.
Oddly enough, almost all the other counselors are teenagers; I think there are perhaps two other guys there who are out of high school, and both of them are still in college (though one of them is married, so I’m not a total oddball). I feel completely out of place. I’m somewhere between five and ten years older than most of the counselors, and I simply do not know how to relate to the special needs people.
We’re each supposed to be assigned to a specific person, though my guy, Steve, has only come twice that I’ve seen (I’ve missed a couple weeks, so it could be that he came when I wasn’t there). He’s middle-aged and doesn’t seem too terribly handicapped, but I just don’t know how to talk to him. I could blame my own introversion, but it doesn’t help that he doesn’t talk much, either—he usually just sits there quietly. How do you break the ice with a guy twice your age and half your IQ?
And so I sat there tonight, frustrated and uncomfortable, trying to help him with a crossword puzzle that seemed quite a bit beyond him. I noticed that some of the other special needs guys were writing out the answers with the help of their counselors. Was Steve upset that I was basically doing it myself while awkwardly trying to involve him? Did he even notice or care? I honestly have no idea.
My callings in the past have never been too terribly challenging. I suppose that this one isn’t really that hard, either, in the sense that it doesn’t really require much more than my being there, but it’s hard in a different sense. I don’t know how to overcome my own awkwardness and discomfort. I feel guilty for not knowing how to relate to them, for being slightly repulsed by the physical and mental defects and by the general poor hygiene. I feel guilty for the feeling of relief every week when mutual is over. I feel guilty for realizing that Homestar Runner talks a lot like some of these people.
I’m not sure what the point of this post is. It’s just one of those things that I’ve been wanting to get off my chest, to cast off into the weightless ether of the Internet.
So am I going to hell if I still find Homestar Runner funny?