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Poem: "A Recipe for Affection" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "A Recipe for Affection"
This poem came out of the May 1, 2018 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] fayanora. It also fills the "determination" square in my 5-1-18 General card for the Pro Wrestling Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] bairnsidhe. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

Warning: This poem touches on some controversial topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. It features a psychopath, his brother who uses a wheelchair, adoption, compensating for each other's strengths and weaknesses, medical matters, and other challenges. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.


"A Recipe for Affection"


Bob doesn't have a conscience.

As a psychopath, he was born
without one, and he doesn't think
it's fair of people to hate him for it,
any more than if he had been born
without feet like his brother Tom.

He is eternally grateful for the parents
who adopted both of them and put them
together to help each other through life.

They taught both boys the power of
love and compassion and cooperation,
how to compensate for each other's strengths
and weaknesses as they faced their challenges.

Bob wouldn't let Tom give up on learning
how to maneuver his wheelchair over
rugged trails, and now Tom works as
a computer programmer who writes
apps to analyze wildlife data.

Tom wouldn't let Bob give up
on studying human emotions,
insisting that affection was
just like a recipe to follow,
and now Bob serves as
an emergency room nurse.

They taught each other
determination in the face of
almost insurmountable odds,
and they surmounted anyway.

On full moon nights, when
the emergency room is bedlam
and Bob wonders how anyone with
feelings could endure so much pain,
he is even grateful for his disability.

He thinks of his brother, and he
mentally recites the recipe:

Smile.
Speak gently.
Get on eye level.
Tell them you care.
Tell them you'll help.


It doesn't matter that
Bob's care is a construct.

It only matters that it helps.

* * *

Notes:

Bob Vondrasek -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and wavy brown hair. He wears a small mustache and beard. He is a psychopath by birth. Bob was adopted along with his brother Tom who uses a wheelchair, the two of them carefully paired to compensate for each other's strengths and weaknesses. Currently they share a house in Salt Lake City, Utah. Bob works as an emergency room nurse. He takes a very methodical approach to constructing a persona that will satisfy other people in order to get him what he wants out of life. So for instance, on learning that warm hands are important in emergency nurses, he studied biofeedback to make his hands warmer, because that's a practical thing with an objective measure which he could learn to control. He enjoys gardening as a hobby, especially with native plants.
Qualities: Good (+2) Brother of Tom Vondrasek, Good (+2) Emergency Room Nurse, Good (+2) Constitution, Good (+2) Gardener, Good (+2) Psychopath
Poor (-2) Being Alone

Tom Vondrasek -- He has caramel skin, black eyes, and straight black hair buzzed short. He was born without feet, dislikes prosthetics, and prefers to ride a wheelchair. He wears glasses. Tom was adopted along with his brother Bob who is a psychopath, the two of them carefully paired to compensate for each other's strengths and weaknesses. Currently they share a house in Salt Lake City, Utah. Tom works as a computer programmer, making apps to analyze wildlife data. As a hobby he enjoys making, hiding, and finding painted rocks.
Qualities: Good (+2) Brother of Bob Vondrasek, Good (+2) Computer Programmer, Good (+2) Naturalistic Intelligence, Good (+2) Painted Rocks, Good (+2) Upper-Body Strength
Poor (-2) Needs Glasses

Explore the hobby of making, hiding, and finding painted rocks. Most people paint pictures or abstract designs. Some paint words or proverbs in a heritage language. Some use runes, ogham, or other symbols. See some examples. Learn to paint your own rocks, hide them, and hunt for others. This is a very popular hobby in Terramagne and people often paint positive messages on their rocks.

* * *

Bob and Tom Vondrasek share a house. This is the side view of the living room and kitchen. The lot slopes a little, so the front door into the living room has several steps up, while the back door into the kitchen is level with the ground for wheelchair accessibility. The house has a largely open floor plan, where the only rooms through interior doors are the bathroom and two bedrooms. Tom has the master bedroom because he needs more space to maneuver in the wheelchair. Bob has the second bedroom. Tom's bedroom has two desks, two chairs, a coffee stand, a viewscreen, a large low bed, and a windowseat. Smooth indoor-outdoor carpeting makes for easy travel on wheels. Bob's bedroom has end tables, an easy chair, a large bed, and a windowseat.

The utility room is right outside the bathroom, which is through the lefthand door. It has a washer and dryer, sink, and garbage can on this side and the furnace opposite. The garbage on can has hidden wheels, making it easy to pull out so Tom can use the kneespace under the counter. The accessible bathroom has two sinks including one with kneespace, a roll-in shower with bench, a toilet, and a linen closet.

The accessible kitchen has a hardwood floor, low and high ovens, a dishwasher, and a sink with kneespace. Just to the right of the sink is a minifridge under the counter. The rangetop and full-size refrigerator-freezer are farther back along the left wall. The living room has a hardwood floor, and does not use rugs to define function spaces, which makes for easy travel on wheels.

Intentional neighboring is a premise that connects people to help each other, instead of expecting all help to come from government services. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, so each person has something to give and receive; nobody is viewed as helpless or worthless. This works especially well for foster and adopted children, supporting them in the development of healthy relationships. Instead of throwing people together randomly, Family Services in Terramagne-America makes an effort to find good matches that will stand up over the long term. So it's not rare for adult siblings to live together.

Mobility impairment spans a wide range of missing or dysfunctional body parts. Amelia and congenital amputation are two ways someone can be born without feet. Acceptance or rejection of prostheses is highly variable. Some people find them unbearable to wear; others simply find themselves more comfortable and mobile in a wheelchair. There are even wheelchairs good for outdoor activities, especially the rowing chairs like Tom uses. The important thing is to respect the person's choices and practice good etiquette with wheelchair users.

T-America views psychopathy as a mental disability: the person was born without a conscience and perhaps other alterations of personality, much the way someone might be born without limbs or other physical birth defects. Treatment focuses on identifying psychopaths early so they may be taught how to compensate for their lacks and find their strengths, much as physically disabled children are provided with prosthetics and occupational therapy.

The full moon is notorious for causing surges in the emergency room.

Burnout is a serious risk for all emergency workers. Understand how to prevent it and recover from it.

Rapport between client and caregiver is essential for good health outcomes. Know how to establish it quickly. These are concrete techniques that can be memorized by anyone for use in emergencies.

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