Sunday, August 18, 2013

Autism's Edges Visits the Lap of Luxury

photo credit:
We decamped from the New York City heat to visit with my family in Los Angeles. On our girl's list of things she wanted to do in LA were: Disneyland. A waterpark (preferably Six Flags). And Rodeo Drive. Yes, Rodeo Drive.

I'm not sure where she got the idea that Rodeo Drive was worth seeing – we've never been exactly a label-obsessed family (unless Hanna Andersson counts for baby clothes) – but she was seriously interested in seeing these four blocks in Beverly Hills. Disneyland in August heat wasn't going to happen. I soured on waterparks a few years ago after an unfortunate encounter with a waterslide. So Rodeo Drive was on.

Badgley Mischka Shop, Rodeo Drive
Our girl was thrilled, eager to see what ultralux commodities were there on display. The first store we checked out was Badgley Mischka, with their shimmering chiffon evening gowns. Sweet M was enthralled looking at them, gently touching the poof of ruffles on one gown, dazzled by the jewels on another. All was well until a haughty sales person came over any said, "Please don't touch the gowns – they're very delicate. You can just touch the hangers to move them." To my surprise, the saleswoman's attitude rolled right off our girl. I guess that's the beauty of missing nonverbal signals in social communication.

Sweet M just went about exploring everything, but no longer touched anything. I was less sanguine, and said, "You know, my daughter is on the autism spectrum, and she learns by looking and touching, but she's also very rule bound, so she won't be touching anything else here."  She looked at me, icily, and said, 'Well, that's good.'"

This did not bode well for our continued Rodeo Drive visit. Sweet M would be just fine, but I might experience some class-induced emotional dysregulation.

Happily, every other store was amazing and welcoming: Max Mara, the Porsche Design Store, Christian Dior, Tiffany, Chanel. The staff were warm and friendly, apparently accustomed to visits from tourists from the 99% and accommodating of an autie teen girl thrilled to visit what she called "the lap of luxury." It seemed the higher end the store, the more gracious the staff were.

On our way back to the car we walked by the Badgley Mischka shop and looked in the front door. Amazingly, our previously haughty retail staffer was clowning around with an African American colleague, holding up one of the very precious gowns in front of herself.

I wondered what it's like to be a retail salesperson on Rodeo Drive, catering to the rich and their personal assistants while, perhaps, passing along a bit of attitude when you can. Thankfully, our girl hadn't notice any attitude; she was thrilled with her day. She's much less fragile than any evening gown, and ever so much more dazzling. 


aspiegurl said...

I was diagnosed with Asperger's at 4 and liked PBS kids shows at 15.

MothersVox said...

That's so great. . . Sorry to be so slow in responding . . . our September was hectic with the girl and I both back at school. Do you still like PBS kids shows? My girl does . . .