Blackhumouristpress's Blog

January 10, 2010

Tourette’s meets TSA

Filed under: Uncategorized — blackhumouristpress @ 10:21 am
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Lester Vandermere was born and raised in Warren, Michigan. Lester’s parents dropped Lester off with his mother’s parents as a toddler before they took off to concentrate on other things that interested them more about life such as drugs and stealing to buy drugs and so on. Luckily for Lester, he had grandparents that really loved him and treated Lester as their own.
At a young age, they began to notice some quirky things about Lester that they had not noticed with their own children or anyone else’s for that matter. Lester had the ability to mimic voices of just about anyone he heard around him and if it was particularly unique, Lester imitated the voice until some other voice caught his fancy. Lester too spent his time straightening things in his room to the point of exhaustion. Poor Lester would eventually just pass out as a young boy and it was rarely on his bed but on the floor while he was in the middle of correcting something he had already corrected such as color coordinating clothes or hanging them by size or alphabetically arranging baseball cards.
Baseball for as slow as it should be for a child diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive disorder, ADHD and Tourette Syndrome, Baseball should have been like watching grass grow but it wasn’t that way with Lester. It was one of the few times he could sit in a chair without involuntary vocal outbursts, twitching or blinking. Lester’s grandfather took Lester to see the Detroit Tigers a lot and then got the idea to buy over 100 rubber coated league baseballs and paint a target in the backyard.
“All you gotta do is aim for this target and throw that ball as hard as you can… Now granddad wants you to occasionally hold the ball across the seams like so and then turn your hand like this when releasing the ball. Once you’ve thrown all these call me,” said Lester’s grandfather.
This began at about age eight and continued everyday irregardless of weather or season. Lester threw baseballs at a target on a fence everyday for hours and never grew tired of it. At age ten, Lester’s grandfather signed him up for little league baseball in Warren. The first day Lester ever got to pitch, he had the first perfect game ever recorded by a first time pitcher in his first game in the state of Michigan. Lester made the front page of the Detroit Free Press. Over time Lester continued to improve and never grew tired of throwing baseballs at a target. By Lester’s sophomore year of high school, colleges all over the country were offering him full scholarships. More than one Major League Baseball club sent a representative to watch Lester pitch for his high school. Lester could pitch a curve ball that looked like it dropped off a table just before arriving at home plate, faster than most men could throw a fastball. Lester’s fastball was unbelievably fast for a fifteen year old boy. Between pitches, Lester would have to pick up the rosin bag and bounce it twice on the back of his left hand and twice on the palm before yelling out profanity, wooing and heavy blinking. He was more amusing than Mark Fydrich ever was for the Detroit Tigers.
“Three pitches, fat ass! Three pitches… You get three fucking pitches, fat boy…”
Strike one. A belt high fastball that hovered around 95 miles per hour. The batter attempted to swing and was frozen.
“That’s one, bitch boy… Two more… Two more, you fat fuck…”
Strike two. Slightly lower than the first but above the knees right down the center of the plate at about 96 miles per hour. The catcher wore a padded batter’s glove inside his catcher’s mitt. The second pitch cracked as it hit the webbing of the catcher’s mitt.
“Just standing there with his thumb in his ass… Ha, ha, Lovie… Gilligan m’boy… Mere child’s play… Drown them all like puppies… Jimbo, let’s discuss all the options, son… Out of the way! Road hog!”
Lester loved imitating the voice of Jim Backus who was the voice of Mr. Magoo, the millionaire on Gilligan’s Island and the father of James Dean in Rebel without a Cause. Lester strung quotes from all three as he bounced the rosin bag on his left hand prior to throwing a curve ball that dropped about 18 inches at 88 miles per hour. The stands were packed and everyone stood and clapped with every strike out. The ovations were just white noise in the head of a talented young man whose mind was locked on Jim Backus at the moment. Television will do that to children, you know.
“Oh Magoo, you’ve done it again… Marvelous Gilligan, m’boy. Go get Ginger and tell her I’d like to drive her like a five iron… Pull a little to the left but play through it, Gilligan… Drive it right through the rough patches, m’boy…”
Some days Lester might take on the voice of Foghorn Leghorn, Jack Nicholson, George W. Bush, Marlon Brando. He might imitate the laugh of Charles Nelson Reilly or the faces of Robert de Niro. Lester’s grandparents were used to it and paid little attention. What did not go unnoticed were Lester’s grandfather’s racist comments. In school all the kids laughed at the unique voices and racist words that spouted from Lester’s mouth as his mind committed things to memory and replayed them often and randomly.
“Smithers! What is with all of these fat children?” As the voice of Mr. Burns from the Simpson.
“Now folks, we’re fixing to round up all the wet backs, chinks, pork chops, niggers, sand niggers, swami’s, snake charmers and the whole lot of them and send them to ah… send them to ah… California! That’s right. Send them to live with Arnold…”
And just like that he went from sounding like George W. Bush to Arnold Swartznegger.
“Commin-zee to Camp Cal-if-forn-ia… Veel help you to concentrate… In our camp…. Hee aye aye aye…. Ya… Dat vas a gut fun…”
One teacher learned that if she gave Lester a whole pack of gum to chew, it cut down on outbursts and tics. The rest just had to tune it out the best they could. The fact of the matter is that if you have a talent like savant, people tend to be very forgiving and most understood that for as unusual as it was for Lester to have not only Tourette’s but to also be Obsessive-Compulsive and have ADHD, he also had the ability to imitate voices and gestures and pitch a baseball unlike any young man his age. Lester barring any unforeseen problems was going to become a rich and famous young man soon. Everyone respected this.
Lester’s grandmother gave Lester the news, the night before leaving, that they would be going to southern California to visit several colleges that offered scholarships. Lester’s grandmother knew better than to tell him earlier. If she had told him a week in advance, he would have been packed and waiting at the door without sleep for that entire week. The night before leaving for Los Angeles, Lester’s grandmother packed a suitcase full of Lester’s clothes. Lester was obviously upset that the order of his things was being disrupted without any prior discussion. Lester took on the voice of Peter Lorre.
“Oh thees ees most disturbing… I’m not going to hurt you, my leetle friend… Don’t worry… Tell the fat man that I must have the Maltese Falcon… Eet ees most imperative that the fat man call me thees instant…”
Lester began to put away the clothes that were in the suitcase when his grandmother stopped him and sat him down to explain where they were going in the morning. Lester was so excited that he couldn’t sleep. He stayed up all night watching the MLB station and reruns on TVLand.
Lester and his grandparents arrived at the Detroit Metro Airport at seven in the morning two weeks after a terrorist tried to blow up the Detroit bound plane he was on and three days after another man claimed that he wanted to kill all Jews before boarding a plane in Detroit. Now picture a tall and lanky young man with pimples on his face, talking non stop, all the while changing voices and facial expressions. It had been a few days since Lester had watched the movie, Slapshot with Paul Newman. Lester spewed out lines from the movie while standing in the TSA security line.
“You naver naver want to take your stick like thees unless you are a stupid English pig… You go to the box and feel shame and then you go free… FAT ASS! WOO! You ever see so many niggers trying to get something for nothing? If it isn’t nailed down, you bet your sweet ass the niggers will have it,” said Lester, imitating his grandfather’s voice and facial expressions.
Luckily for the Vandermeres, there were no African-Americans within an ear shot of them except for the TSA official who was looking at passports, licenses and boarding passes. Mr. Caruthers, the TSA official was as shocked as he was angry about hearing such blatantly racist comments coming from the young man whose grandmother was rubbing his arm, telling him that he needed to talk about something else. It came time for the three of them to step up and give their credentials to Mr. Caruthers.
Mr. Caruthers was a large and strongly built black man with a deep voice. The voice reminded Lester of the times his grandfather would lower his voice and do an imitation of Amos and Andy. Lester’s grandparents feared something bad could happen and it was happening.
“How is yaw, Kingfish? How you be thaar, Kingfish? Now see haar… How’s Calpurnia?”
The three of them were herded into a room and questioned for about a half hour by several federal officials. One of the men recognized Lester from the newspaper and believed all that Lester’s grandparents were trying to explain about Lester’s quirks and outbursts. Lester signed an autograph on a piece of paper for the federal official who was a big baseball fan and had heard that Lester was one the top prospects coming up. Lester and his grandparents boarded the plane first and took the last three seats all the way in the back. Lester was thumbing through a baseball book that his grandmother had given him for Christmas. Everyone came in and took their seats and everything seemed as if it were going to be mostly copasetic all the way to Los Angeles until a young Italian man muttered under his breath to his brother, loud enough for Lester to hear. The Italian man was distinctly from Brooklyn. Both men had slicked back black hair and were chewing their gum in a loud circular motion, wearing tight faded jeans and t shirts that were too tight for both of them. It was perfect ammunition for Lester who had become calm despite being excited and apprehensive about his first flight on a plane.
“You ask me what they should fucking do is let the fucking Chinese run the fucking airports for about a year. The fucking Chinese don’t put up with no shit. You ever see this kind of shit happen in China? Fuck no! Let one of these A-rab cocksuckers pull this shit with the fucking Chinese. You’d never hear a fucking word about em again. In this country you’re like a goddamn celebrity. Wanna get on TV? Light your fucking balls on fire on a plane and you’ll wind up getting three square meals for the rest of your days in a goddamn prison and we get to pay for this shit… Let one of these fucks pull a box cutter or a crotch bomb on this flight… I’ll tear their fucking hearts out.”
Upon hearing the rant, Lester once again became unglued. After being detained again and having to face more federal officials and then meet with a psychiatrist and a string of social workers, the Vandermeres were allowed to go back home. It took all day and they were exhausted. Lester’s grandmother laid into her husband for ever saying anything questionable in front of Lester. Lester slept fleetingly as they drove west. After nearly a week on the road, they arrived in Los Angeles. Lester met alone with the athletic director who had originally played baseball in Hoboken in the minor leagues and grew up in the Bronx. The older man, who looked like he could have fit in with the cast of the Sopranos, extended his hand and asked Lester about the flight not knowing that they drove. Lester more or less repeated the words of the Italian man from the airplane. Lester’s grandparents listened outside the office to the hardy laugh of the athletic director that became nothing more than a wheeze and a whistle when he became too out of breath to laugh anymore. The door opened and the big man with cigars for fingers patted Lester on the back and shook the hands of Lester’s grandparents. Lester and his grandparents got into the minivan and headed onto the next school. The athletic director called the baseball coach on the phone to discuss Lester.
“The kid looks like nothing more than a corn seed… Yeah, yeah, I heard all about his problem before he got here. He had me nearly pissing in my pants… He looked at me making faces like Robert de Niro and spoke like Al Pacino for twenty minutes. I don’t know if he did that because he knows I’m Italian but it was very funny… Sure, sure. He’ll make the hall of fame some day and then take his voices on the road. I’d like to be there when he wins the World Series one day and gets invited to the White House to shake hands with the president. That’ll be one for the ages…”

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