Thursday, November 29, 2012

Nantucket, a vice president and some snappy dressers.

Thanksgiving weekend has evolved into a tradition for us the last few years: Visit Nantucket, get our jeep home and stalk Vice President Joe Biden. Yes, we are stalkers. Well, maybe not all of us. Just Tony.

Joe Biden has been spending Thanksgiving weekend on Nantucket longer than us - 30 plus years I am told. Now that he travels with the Secret Service in tow, he is hard to miss. As for the "stalking," it is pretty harmless: Tony wanders around town looking for the Secret Service to figure out where Joe Biden is in hopes of a handshake and photo opportunity. At the least, he scores a sighting. 

As usual, by Friday afternoon, Tony had spotted him. "Satisfied?" I asked. "Yes." "Good. We won't have to be arrested for stalking." I said. With that off the checklist, we were free to run through the remainder of our tasks.

On Saturday, Tony, Sam and I made a brief return to town for errands and quickly parted company: Tony off with his checklist while Sam and I took a more leisurely walk up Main Street. We paused to listen to a street musician. As an opportunity to practice some skills, I gave Sam money for the musician's beautiful music. After a few minutes spent figuring out what to do, Sam finally placed the money correctly into the growing pile of dollars within the violin case.

We lingered longer. I noticed a man nearby watching Sam with great interest. I noticed his eyes dart back and forth between Sam and some other people. They seemed to continually land on a man seated opposite us: It clicked. Relaxing behind a pair of sunglasses was Joe Biden.

My first reaction was oh no, the Secret Service guy is watching us! Sam often moves and behaves in unpredictable ways. This may not end well.

I approached the man and said, "You look like someone who knows stuff." He eyed me warily and responded, "What kind of stuff do you think I know?" I smiled and said, "Well, stuff like what will happen if my son wanders over to where the Vice President is sitting? Will it be okay?" He just shrugged indicating others had done that.

"It's not that simple" I said. "He, well, he has a different way of doing things. And he is kind of big. It all may appear peculiar to someone like you." His expression changed. I could see he understood as his face relaxed. "Take your son over and introduce him," he advised.

Sam, way ahead of us, was already wandering that way.

I caught up with Sam. Once we were near Joe Biden I secured Sam’s focus on the man now seated in front of him. "Sammy, who is the Vice President of the United States?" I asked. Sam responded "Barak Obama!" "Sammy," I said, "who is the VICE President?" This time Sam answered crisply, "Joe Biden is a Vice President of a United States." At that, Joe Biden stood up. With his famous smile he shook Sam’s hand and said, "Hi Sam. I am Joe Biden and this is my son." I leaned over to Sam and said, "the attorney general."

Beau Biden offed to take a picture of us with his father. As he took my phone, he commented, "I remember you from last year." I responded, "You have a very good memory." We thanked them, walked over to the Secret Service man to say goodbye as well. "You did well," he said to Sam.

A few minutes later we met up with Tony. The first words out of his mouth were about the Secret Service men hovering around Main Street. He added if we walked over we might have another photo opportunity. I responded casually, “Been there, done that.” I handed him my phone with the photo. "Last year's photo?" Tony asked. I directed him to examine the photo a little more closely.

"You got a new photo!" "Yup." I said smugly, "No stalking either. His son remembered us from last year, too. I think it must be because Sam and I are such snappy dressers." Tony answered shaking his head, "Oh Janet. You keep telling yourself that."

As I turned to see Sam hug a nearby tree, I said, “You know, I think I just will." 

Thanks for being so gracious, Joe Biden. See you next year. 


  1. I just read that aloud to Peter. We loved it!
    You ARE a snappy dresser, btw.

    1. Oh thank you. I was hoping someone would say that convincingly.

  2. Dear Janet,
    I am Scott Lentine, a 25 year old man from Billerica with high-functioning autism (PDD-NOS/Asperger's) and summer resident of Fieldston Beach in Marshfield. I have written some poems about autism over the past year that I want to have you read. I'm trying to think where I could email you the poems. D-NOS/Asperger's) from Billerica, Massachusetts, outside of Boston and summer resident of Fieldston Beach, Marshfield, south of Boston. I graduated from Merrimack College magna cum laude with a Bachelor's Degree in Religious Studies with a Biology minor. I am currently an office intern at the Arc of Massachusetts in Waltham, where I try to persuade lawmakers to pass key disability resources legislation to improve the lives of people with developmental disabilities. I am interested in data clerical entry duties, hospital settings, autism non-profit organizations, and research type work. I have some poems about autism in this email that I wanted you read and show to additional people you know on the spectrum and their families and friends. My autism song poems are now featured on Claire LaZebnik's blog, John Elder Robison's Look Me in the Eye blog, the Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid blog,Flannery Sullivan's Living on the Spectrum: The Connor Chronicles blog and Seth Mnookin's PLOS blog. The reviews from commenters have been great! My poems have also been featured on Ellen Seidman's Love that Max blog and Dr. Tony Attwood's blog as well. I regularly communicate via email with people such as Stephen Shore, Susan Senator, and John Elder Robison. I am in the process of reviewing my 4th poem, I'll email it to you when the poem is complete. I even got a support letter email from President Obama for autism advocacy. I would love to get Obama to pursue more comprehensive autism reform in his next term. I hope you love these poems!

    Just a Normal Day

    Never knowing what to say

    Never knowing what to do

    Always looking for clues

    Just a normal day

    Feeling unsure

    Totally perplexed with everyday life

    Always on edge never certain

    I wish I could lift this curtain

    Needing to constantly satisfy my need for information

    Always online searching for new revelations

    Going from site to site

    Obtaining new insights every night

    Trying to connect with people my age

    Attempting to reveal my unique vision

    But ending up alone and unengaged

    Feeling like my needs a total revision

    Just a normal day

    Can’t You See

    Can’t you see

    I just want to have a friend

    Can’t you see

    I need the same connections in the end

    Can’t you see

    I want a good job

    Can’t you see

    I need to have stability and dependence and part of the general mob

    Can’t you see

    I want to be independent on my own

    Can’t you see

    I want to be able to have my own home

    Can’t you see

    I want the same things as everyone else

    Can’t you see

    I want to be appreciated for myself

    The Ode to the Autistic Man

    Try to understand the challenges that I face

    I would like to be accepted as a human in all places

    Where I will end up in life I don’t know

    But I hope to be successful wherever I go

    I would like to expand my social skills in life

    Making new friends would be very nice

    Stand proud for the autistic man

    For he will find a new fan

    I hope to overcome the odds I face today

    Increased acceptance will lead me to a brighter day

    By the age of 20, I will have made tremendous strides

    I know in the future, life will continue to be an interesting ride

    I have made new friends by the year

    I will be given tremendous respect by my family and peers

    I hope to get noted for bringing the issue of autism to the common man

    So that autistic people can be accepted in this great land

    Stand proud for the autistic man

    For he will find a new fan

    I hope to overcome the odds I face today

    Increased acceptance will lead me to a brighter day

    1. So nice to "meet" you, Scott. The poems you have posted here are beautiful. You are very talented and I would love to hear more. Do you do Facebook? If so, we are there at It would be a great way to keep in touch and hear more. Sam, who I write about, isn't able to communicate as you are so I do appreciate the insight you've provided. I hope you keep writing!

    2. Janet,
      My email address is