Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Circles and cycles

Later this week, a lot of people are going to be talking about Lance Armstrong, that lying sack of shiittake mushrooms who, for years and years took drugs, and for ten years denied that he took drugs, until he got a chance to make a confession and hoped to regain some of the trust he once enjoyed so he can get back in the business of his gigantic mass deception.

I don't give a bicycle seat if he had smoked or snorted or popped or guzzled rye whiskey for all those years.  Bike racing is so boring, you could almost understand that. 

No, he took drugs to help himself cheat, to give himself an unfair edge against the other competitors.  And then he "won" race after race and bragged of his greatness. 

And now that the wheels have come off his bike, so to speak, he wants to be forgiven, and tell his story to Oprah.  I hope he mentions that he was born in Dallas, and was named after Lance Rentzel, the former Cowboys wide receiver who got shown the door from the NFL after two convictions for exposing himself to young schoolgirls and one marijuana bust.  Another outstanding citizen.

No, I don't have time to even consider Lance Armstrong, and I'm glad that I didn't run out and buy a rubber band with his slogan on it so that he could take the profits and buy more dope.

I'm thinking instead about a young lady named Alexis Wineman, from Cut Bank, Montana.

Alexis Wineman
At 11, just 7 years ago, Alexis was was diagnosed as being a child within the autism spectrum.  Doctors said she is dealing with Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD) and borderline Asperger's Syndrome. Although I happen to love several people in that struggle, I don't claim to understand all about it, and bow my heads to the children and their parents as they manage lives with difficulties in social interaction and communication.  In Alexis's case, she felt alone, walled off from family and schoolmates.

But she says that her diagnosis led to careful treatment from her parents, and teachers and counselors at school, which led to her stepping outside of herself and becoming a cheerleader and member of the speech and drama clubs.

And in those seven years, she gained self assurance and confidence enough to enter pageants, and last Saturday night, she represented Montana in the Miss America contest.

I'm not saying that being in this competition is, or should be, the sort of goal that children with autism ought to set for themselves.  I don't really care for these pageants, as I feel they objectify women for their looks over their contributions to society as people, and that they set unrealistic standards, painting an image of the "Ideal Woman," instead of presenting a more balanced concept.

But Ms Wineman chose to enter the local and national contests, reciting a comic monologue to talk about the need for a good healthy self-image for all women, no matter their dress size, shape and appearance.  That can only be good for all of us.  Her talk also touched on the ways society treats people who are thought of as being "different."  And, she says that this self-discovery got her interested in acting and amusing others.

So, if you're interested in seeing a dishonest person groveling on a TV show, you can enjoy seeing Mr. Armstrong talk to Oprah.  As for me, I am glad that Alexis Wineman found it in herself to face the hand she was dealt, and that people in her life chose to help her.  Being Miss Montana is not that great a deal, compared to being Miss Wineman. 

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