The Joy Show

Deb and the girls want to see The Peanut Butter Falcon, a movie about a guy named Zac, a man with Down syndrome who has been placed in a nursing home because he has no family. Deb thought about taking the girls to see it this weekend, but she has put it off until sometime next week.

Anyway, apparently Zac is a wrestling fan and all day, every day, he watches a video tape put out by a wrestler named Salt Water Redneck. Zac wants to get to Salt Water Redneck’s wrestling school, the one advertised in the video. And so Zac tries to escape all the time. Zac rooms with Carl (Bruce Dern), who complains about having to watch the same wrestling video all day but helps Zac escape. Zac escapes in his underpants and meets up with Tyler, a crab fisherman. At the same time, Eleanor (a kind, pretty woman from the nursing home) searches for Zac before her supervisor orders Zac to be put into a state hospital. Tyler and Zac bond. They set off on foot. Then they build a raft and float down the coastline, like Huck and Jim floating down the Mississippi River. Et cetera.

This feel-good movie is getting good reviews. The actor with Down syndrome (Zack Gottsagen) apparently does a fantastic job.

Characters with disabilities are often portrayed by actors without disabilities. I remember watching LA Law in the 1980s. Benny Stulwicz, the mentally challenged office boy on the show, was played by Larry Drake, a man without cognitive deficits. Drake’s portrayal was so spot-on, he won Emmy awards.

And so it is cool that a man with Down syndrome is the main character in a hit movie.

I haven’t seen the movie, but I’m not sure I want to.

Let’s think about this. I could watch Zac, a thirty-eight-year-old man in underpants run away to become a wrestler, or I could stay home and watch Joy, an eight-month-old baby girl in a diaper, laugh every time I make a funny face. (This summer has been so hot. Around the house, Joy almost never wears anything except her No. 2 diaper. Tomorrow she moves up to the No. 3 size.)

I like Bruce Dern (Nebraska was amazing). But I love rocking Joy to sleep. I love kissing her toes. I even love hearing her cry for me at 5 am. (What ever happened to 6:15, Joy!?) I turn on the hallway light, stumble over to her crib, smile at her, change her diaper, hold her, make a bottle, do a feeding, and then collapse back into bed, grateful that I had that time with her.

Joy learned to clap her hands yesterday. She can crawl about 6 inches now (a week ago it was 3 inches). Joy still says just two words (da-da-da-da and ah-goo), but she pretends to be a  monster (to make Mommy laugh) and gets super excited when I say, “Do you want a ba-ba?”

So I could put some Twizzlers in my pants and go to the movies, or I could stay home for the Joy Show. Not Joy Behar and Elizabeth Hasselbeck. Just Joy Elizabeth.

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