Timmy just moved into an apartment down the hall. I see him often in the laundry room, in the foyer waiting for a ride, and walking down the hill toward downtown. He is around 30, short, slim, with very short black hair, greased back, a long face, prominent ears, and big veiny hands always clasped together as if in prayer, unless he's carrying something. He's always smiling.
"Hi, Timmy," I always say. "What are you doing today?"
"Hi, Boomer," he answers in a monotone. "I'm going to work" or "I'm doing laundry" or "I'm waiting for my friend."
When he's going to work, he always wears a pale blue long-sleeved shirt and a clip-on black tie. Otherwise he always wears a very tight t-shirt, yellow or blue. Nice chest.
Something is definitely off about Timmy, but I can't figure out what. His reactions are slow, his movements are a little jerky, and he doesn't understand unless you use short sentences and simple words. Autism?
I look him up on Facebook. He's a high school graduate, he likes country-western music, he has 27 friends, and he works for Rehabilitation Services, which provides jobs throughout the city for people with intellectual disabilities.
I call my friend Ross in the Psychology Department: intellectual disabilities, what we used to call "mental retardation," affect 2-3% of the population. 90% have "mild" or "moderately impaired cognition." They aren't good at abstract thought and higher-level reasoning, they need predictability and structure, but they can do almost everything the rest of us can: work, live alone, handle everyday problems, and have social relationships.
Timmy is very cute....
Today I saw Timmy in the foyer downstairs. "I'm waiting for my friend," he said. "We're going to play arcade."
"You're going to the arcade?" I repeated.
"We're going to play arcade," Timmy corrected me. "He gets a better score than me, but I like to play anyway."
A moment later the friend arrived, in a car. He was in his 30s, tall, rather buffed, bearded, black or Hispanic, wearing a taqiyah, a Muslim skullcap.
"This is Boomer," Timmy said. "He lives down the hall from me. Sometimes we do laundry at the same time."
"Hi, I'm Mamou," the friend says.
We shake hands. Then Timmy wants to shake my hand, too.
"This guy isn't being a nuisance, is he?" Mamou asks jokingly.
"Oh, no, I enjoy having him around."
"We have to go to play arcade now," Timmy said.
I wouldn't mind playing "arcade" with Timmy and his "friend."
Is it legal for the intellectually disabled to have sex? I check: the question is one of consent. Most states criminalize sexual activity with someone with a "physical or mental impairment," a sweeping statement includes the blind, deaf, and wheelchair-bound.
Other states, including this one, specify that the impairment must render them "incapable of giving full, free, and informed consent," that is, incapable of understanding the sexual act, and of consenting as an equal, not being manipulated or bullied.
Does Timmy understand the sexual act?
Today I was siting in the laundry room, waiting for the drier to finish, when Timmy came in, stood very close to me, and started talking about how cold it was outside. I assumed he meant "hot." I said "I was in New York last month" He said "I've been to New York. I was there for 3/4ths of day. Then I was in Boston for 3/4ths of a day. That's how long I was outside of the state."
He was standing very close. Very close. I felt a heat coming from him. I looked at his crotch. Did I see a bulge?
"I want to go to California," he continued, touching my shoulder. "To the beach." Then suddenly he said "I'm going to work now" and walked away.
I read some articles on line: Their behavior is a little off, so they may seem to be erotically interested when they're just being friendly. And they might not understand your erotic intentions. They have a hard time with figures of speech, double-entendres, body language, all of the subtle behavior that we take for granted in cruising.
A week ago
Today when I walked past Timmy's apartment, the door was wide open. "Hello?" I said. No answer. Maybe Timmy was hurt? I walked in. It was barely furnished -- no books, no pictures on the wall -- but very clean.
He was sitting at the kitchen table, looking at a sports magazine, shirtless. Tight chest, flat stomach with an outtie belly button.
"Hi! Your door was open. I thought you were in trouble."
"I'm getting it cold in here."
"Don't you have an air conditioner?"
"My air conditioner is broke. They're going to fix it today. It's cold in here with the door open, though. Feel."
He took my hand and held it up in the air.
"You're right, it is cold."
"Want some lemonade? I got it at work."
He stood -- he was in his underwear. Nice bulge! He poured some lemonade into to a glass and handed it to me. Country Time -- yuck!
"You can take your shirt off if you want to. It will make it cool in here."
What will his case worker think, seeing Timmy in his underwear and me with my shirt off? "That's ok, I'm cool enough, thanks."
I noticed some dirty dishes in the sink and asked "Are you a good cook?".
"I can cook macaroni and cheese and spaghetti pretty good. My Mom brings me dinners in Tupperware sometimes. Chicken, pork chops, celery. Brussel sprouts! She said they're healthy."
He brushed my leg under the table. I felt myself becoming aroused, said "Thanks for the lemonade," and left.
Is it ok to have sex with the intellectually disabled? As a vulnerable population, they are often sexually abused by parents, classmates, and case workers, so they may need special support in a sexual relationship, like any other survivor of trauma. Would you want to go down on Gilbert Grape? Or top the Rain Man?
Maybe you should be in a loving long-term relationship with them before even thinking of sexual intimacy. Maybe recreational hookups are beyond their emotional capacity.
Timmy knocked on my door.
"Hi, Boomer. I came to ask you a question. Do you want to go to Kansas?"
Why was he asking me about a state? "I've only been there once. It's ok. A little flat."
He laughed "No, not Kansas the state, Kansas the rock group."
"Oh, sure. 'Dust in the Wind' was my favorite nihilistic song -- I mean my favorite sad song -- when I was in high school."
"They're coming here on Friday, and they're giving a concert. At work I got two tickets as a prize, so I came here to ask you a question: Do you want to go to Kansas?"
"What about your friend?"
He laughed again. "You can't bring friends to a concert! That would be weird. It's for dates."
Timmy was asking me for a date? Did he even know what that meant? Stalling for time, I asked, "Do you go on dates a lot?"
"Not a lot!" he said, grinning. "I'm not a slut! Just when a hot boy asks me. But this time I got the tickets, so I get to ask."
"Do you go on dates with girls, too, or just with boys?"
Embarrassed, he looked down at his feet and pushed his hands together. "Girls, too. But I like boys best for kissing. And the underwear stuff."
"I like boys for the underwear stuff, too," I admitted.
Now his grin became just a bit lascivious. "Do you want to go to Kansas? We can get pizza after it's over, and then we can go to my apartment. I cleaned it today."
"Sure. It's a date."
This Friday I have a date with a mentally disabled guy to go to a concert, get pizza, and kiss.
And the underwear stuff.
Next: My Date with My Mentally Disabled Neighbor
See also: A Boy with Daddy Issues Rips My Clothes Off