Q15: Adventures in the Mainstream

Q15“…Dennis the Waiter teased Ned that Crystal must be his girlfriend.  Teasing little kids about their romantic interests, on the assumption they have none, is standard non-parent behavior.  But Ned isn’t a little kid.  He’s a twenty-year-old man, and he most certainly does have romantic interests, even if he doesn’t recognize them for what they are.”

“Lilly has been Ned’s girlfriend since middle school, when they were classmates together for the first time.  I distinctly remember Lily pursuing Ned most directly by informing him one day they would be sweethearts from then on, but now he tells me he decided to make her his girlfriend when he learned she had seizures.  “She needs someone to watch out for her and take care of her and that’s why I decided she should be my girlfriend,” is the way he puts it.”

“Lily is a year or two younger than Ned, with developmental disabilities but not Down syndrome. Ned once described her to me as “the most beautiful girl in the world.” I was surprised by that, because he knows and is obviously attracted to some girls of his acquaintance who are indeed beautiful.”

“From what I’ve observed, when Lily and Ned are together, she usually calls the play, and though he agrees, I don’t know how much he likes it. Actually, I don’t know how much he really likes Lily, but he very muck likes and apparently needs to be able to say he has a girlfriend.”

“Ned came home from school a few years ago and mentioned that Lily had informed him they were going to get married as soon as she graduated.  He said this without any particular emotional fervor.  You might have thought he was talking about getting a bicycle.  At the same time, he clearly accepted Lily’s pronouncement as fact.  A few days later I shamelessly sandbagged him.  It was easy, really.  I just asked him how he thought he’d enjoy living at Lily’s house after they were married.”

“There was a very long pause.  Ned finally said, “Oh,” and departed for the family room, looking concerned.  That was the last we ever heard about Lily and Ned getting married…But if I have any control over the situation, there are particular reasons why Ned won’t be marrying Lily.

It’s not because I think Ned shouldn’t marry anybody…The main reason I don’t think Ned should marry Lily is that his romantic interest in her is minimal and because, physically and intellectually, she is just too high maintenance for him to handle…For Ned to succeed as a married man, he needs to find somebody who is operating at more or less the same level that he is, and unfortunately that’s not Lily.”  pp. 35-39

How did you react to Palmer’s story of Ned and Lily?  Do you think he was right to “sandbag” Ned in regards to marriage?  What about Palmer’s thoughts on an appropriate mate for his son? Does your loved one have a romantic relationship?  Have you discussed marriage?

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