Life can be uncanny. The coincidences are unbelievable at times.
I recently had an experience like this in the Lobby Lounge at the Pfister. I was hanging out, diagnosis reading a random article posted in my Facebook feed about the actress Jenny McCarthy and her latest thoughts on autism (her son is autistic), when suddenly a man in a baseball cap sits down next to me and we start chatting.
“So what brings you to the Pfister?” I ask, treatment my tried-and-true opening question.
“Baseball,” says the man, who I learn is named Erik. “And summer vacation. I’m a coach and teacher at a high school about 10 miles from Minneapolis.”
I ask him what he teaches and he says, “I teach in the autism program at our school.”
I tell him that I was just reading an article about autism and Jenny McCarthy. I hope I don’t come off sounding like some “dude, that’s totally cosmic” New Ager, but I have to acknowledge the coincidence.
Erik gets this. He smiles, nods. We talk about Jenny’s extreme beliefs about the cause of autism and he shares his thoughts.
“I have worked with a lot of families, and I think there’s definitely a genetic component,” he says. “It’s not that more kids have autism these days, but they are definitely diagnosing more autism.”
Erik says the numbers are rising. In his school, 30 out of 700 have autism, which is about 5 percent of the student population.
We then move on to lighter subjects. Like baseball, beer and bratwurst.
Erik tells me he’s in town to attend two Brewers games with a friend from Ohio. His friend is a Reds fan and Erik is a Twins fan, but Milwaukee’s Miller Park is a middle place for them to meet. Plus, the Brewers were playing the Reds, which was a bonus for Erik’s amigo.
“I just like going to Miller Park,” says Erik. “The retractable roof is nice. You always know you’ll see a game. We’ve had a couple of rained-out games this season at Target (Field).”
I notice he’s drinking a non-alcoholic beer and gingerly poke a little fun at him. He takes it well.
“You’re in Brew City and you’re gonna drink that?” I ask.
“Yeah, I’ll stick to these,” he says, chuckling.
Then I hit him up with the Most Important Question Of All: will he order a hot dog or a brat at the stadium?
“Oh, definitely a brat,” he says.”We have them at Target Field, but they taste better here.”
Right answer. Bartender, get this man another non-alcoholic beer.