10.3 C
New York
Friday, May 7, 2021

‘He’s got the face of someone that doesn’t work in human beings.’

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“The more legitimate you are, the more” you get, says one of the occupational therapists. Ms. Moore is the only professional at Chicago’s Atria Neuroscience Institute in the lobby, so I get a quick consultation with Mr. Wercker. He has a good view of Mr. Jalonado’s face, and an intimate knowledge of his occasional not-whom-I-should-admit actions. He is not finished giving me a critique of Mr. Jalonado’s features before he places his hands on Mr. Jalonado’s shoulders and bends over.

“His eyebrows,” he says. “That is wrong. His eyebrows are pretty much his only real feature. To want to see what your eyebrows are like. I don’t understand.” Then he glances at Mr. Jalonado, who is nodding and smiling slightly. “You’re a very cute boy,” he says. “But your eyebrows. Your eyebrows don’t belong in this. This place.”

Mr. Jalonado mumbles something, but does not address the face-masking issue. “He’s got the face of someone that doesn’t work in human beings,” Mr. Wercker says. “My wife is the same way. The first day she saw me putting the facemask on, she said, ‘I’ve never heard of you doing that. I thought you were a completely different person.’ ”

Mr. Jalonado says later, “My eyes are just a little bit different in mine. They’re kinda dead-looking, but it’s the same in every eye.” Mr. Wercker nods toward his own eyes. “Right, that’s what I get,” he says. “And she saw me put the facemask on, too. She didn’t think I was able to understand what she was saying, and she said, ‘You’re not thinking.’ ”

I offer Mr. Jalonado a few examples, describing a number of psychotherapists who routinely air their prejudices, and he turns beet red and breaks out in sweating.

I stop him before the intersection. His father, who works for the US postal service in Baltimore, tells me he cannot talk with me about this issue. He will have to go home and iron out his feelings. The only thing he has to say about this issue is, “They look stupid.” Mr. Jalonado’s mother nods. “Oh, they definitely look stupid,” she says.

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