>I’m not sure how this is going to come across.
I go swimming on a Friday afternoon. It’s a public disabled session which means that anyone with a disability can go. I belong to a social group for disabled people and we go to the session. There’s another group that goes of people with learning disabilities and there are a few individuals with disabilities who either go alone or with carers.
All the regulars know each other and most of us chat.
Last week there was a new guy with a disability there with his carer. Probably not much different in age to me. I was walking lengths of the pool with my volunteer Pat. He came up to me asked my name. I told him and he said his name was Charlie.
I said “Hi Charlie it’s great to meet you”
We kept going and eventually came back to the part of the pool he was hanging out in. He asked what I was doing that night and I said something along the lines of nothing much. Did I want to do something? No, not tonight, thank you.
His carer commented that he asks everyone that and it didn’t mean anything.
On with the walking.
Charlie comes back “do you want a kiss?”
Talk about nonplussed!
“No, thanks. I’m not that kinda girl.” I looked for his carer, planning to ask if that was a question everyone got as well but he wasn’t near me.
Pat and I had been planning to take a break but decided not to.
I went “well THAT’S never happened before.”
She laughed and laughed
and then so did I.
We laughed our heads off. It was contagious. I’m sorta ashamed of that. But we couldn’t not laugh.
Later on we were changed and in the coffee shop, I was drinking coke and chatting to some of the others about a new house someone had just bought. Tired and a bit sore, it having been my first time in the pool in a month. But happy to chillax and just hang out.
Charlie came over with his carer to say goodbye. He put his arm around me and his carer went “You can’t hug her, you just met!” He kept his arm there and rubbed my back.
His carer pulled his arm off of me. Commenting he was like with a lot of people and it didn’t mean anything. I did notice however, that he made sure to get between us.
I was teased mercilessly for the rest of time I was in there. And everyone laughed and laughed once again. I was frustrated and annoyed by that.
Not least because nobody liked to be teased… but because I didn’t really know how to handle the situation. And personally I thought I’d handled it badly. And that the way in which everyone else dealt with it didn’t take it seriously. I don’t deny that it was kinda funny. But… some more respect for people like Charlie would be bloody welcome. I hate the way some people in our group (which is just for people with physical disabilities) preach the need for understanding and acceptance and then treat those with learning disabilities like shit.