Outback! Outback! Outback To the Rescue!

Robert, like most of us, uses words he knows to label things which have names he is not familiar with.  Once, as he was looking for a bath mitt, he used the phrase “two rags”. I didn’t have any idea what he wanted.  Finally, he led me to the bathroom and pointed to the place where the mitt was supposed to be. Robert didn’t use the word “mitt”, he also knew  because  this mitt had a shape of a rectangle without a separate compartment for a thumb. So it didn’t look like a mitt.   Another time, he was looking for “snake, door” .  It took me a while to realize that he was searching for a draft protector, which, as I learned later, is often sold as a “door snake”. During our trip to Disneyland, my husband and I learned about another idiosyncratic way Robert uses words.

Star Wars Tour was the first ride we went on.  We took our seats in the  row second to the last.  Robert sat, as always,between my husband and me.   Since he had never been before in  Disneyland, he felt a mixture of excitement and anxiety so, just in case, he held on firmly to our wrists.   Judging by the spark of recognition in his eyes, the first scenes of the movie seemed vaguely familiar to him.  He also must have recognized the music because he loosened his clutch. But when the chairs started jerking us around he became unsettled and tighten his  grip on our wrists.” The spaceship”, we were in, accelerated and centrifugal forces tilted our chairs to the right, to the left, forward, and backward in unpredictable, forceful ways. The roar of the spaceship’s engines replaced the music in a menacing racket. The floor seemed to be moving under our feet and seats.

The terrified call cut through the noise,

“Outback! Outback! Outback!”

A moment later another desperate plea filled intergalactic space,

“Fries! Fries! Fries!”

Robert screamed for Outback and fries with eyes widen with horror. Rather embarrassed, I hoped that the noises coming from  spaceship tearing through galaxies would muffle Robert’s screams and spare other travelers from the confusion my husband and I felt. I was  quite perplexed not understanding why Robert, who just had a good breakfast, demanded food in such a dramatic way.

To calm Robert down, I quickly promised, “Outback later”.  As soon as I did that I realized that Robert did not demand food, but salvation. He wanted to be immediately transported to a safe place.

I assured Robert, ” It is only a movie.  Just a movie.  Like in IMAX , or like Hitchhikers’ Guide. Just the chairs are moving too.” Robert understood.   He removed his hands from our wrists and laughed.  He glanced at me with a proud expression signalizing the  fear conquered by maturity and relaxed. He watched attentively to the end of the presentation and appeared disappointed when the show was over.

Robert knows the word “help”.  He was  taught to say it and to use it in a few appropriate situations.  Yet, he had never been in a position which would require calling for help. Until, of course , during this thrill ride.

I  have mixed feelings about  Robert using words “Outback” and “Fries” to express the sensation of being in a danger. On one hand, I do wish that Robert could ask for help in a typical way  so we would  react properly.  On the other hand, I understand that in an assumed danger, Robert wanted to be transferred to a safe and known environment of a favorite restaurant and comforted by food that  would calm his turning upside down stomach.

Isn’t that what we all want one way or another?

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