Some of the things we have seen or been told in our years of starting A.R.T. programs is scandalous. Some of the diagnoses of the A.R.T. painters are so wrong its insane. So obviously wrong, a guy like me can disprove them in a second. It’s ridiculous. And it’s serious, these diagnoses limiting what an individual will be offered and how they will be perceived and treated.
We were told a guy we worked with in Richmond was blind. We set up super bright lights at the right angle, used a really big canvas and a four inch brush and black paint and the guy they said was blind created a painting as good as a Robert Motherwell. One second he’s blind, the next he isn’t.
They told little Tucker’s parents he could not understand language. All I had to do is hiss in his ear like I was Arnold Schwarzenegger. And we got that smile Marybeth described as ‘ear to ear’. When little Tucker parked the ruby bead of the laser on Marybeth’s palm, she, who is a real trooper and not the type to cry easily, began to cry. From her vantage she was the only one in the room who could see his face. She had seen his effort, his determination, and his blowing apart the fallacies the clinicians had laid on him and his parents.
Tucker’s big breakthrough day having come to its end, as evening came on we stopped for a few drinks, neither of us saying anything about the session. We knew what A.R.T. could do. We expected it to work. Time to call it a night, at the motel we were nearing our room when Marybeth said, “There is the cutest deer, standing right there, looking at us.”
“We ,” I said, “have the two things deer love most: corn and salt. Can you grab that bag of Fritos in the room?”
Having retrieved the corn chips, Marybeth, who has magical powers with animals, she extended her hand to offer a chip.
Not being able to see what was going on I heard her softly say, “Awwwwwww.’
“It took it right out of my hand. You have to do it.” She said giving me a frito.
“I don’t want it to bite my fingers off.”
And so I held out the chip and felt the softest, most gentle velvety lips ever so carefully take the chip. We decided to place a chip on the sidewalk outside our room and up stepped the deer.
We went into the room, leaving the door wide open and offered a chip, and in, very quietly stepped the deer.
When Marybeth and I recalled our mission to West Virginia, I said, “I can’t believe we had a deer in our motel room.”
“It,” Marybeth said, “was so nice. It didn’t buck or anything.”