During childhood, children with autism typically do not engage other children. As they age, their lack of interest in others may lessen. True to the root meaning of autism, a person on the spectrum is inclined to keep to themselves, remaining in their own world. Usually. It does happen from time to time that they capture the interest of one another and, though still maintaining their signature autonomy, form unique alliances. There is no better example of such a partnership than Stacey Mania and Neil Sanders.
Actually, “partnership” is a vague description of what the two have going on. In reality, they are co-conspirators, with Neil leading their foray. Whatever Neil’s devious imagination conjures up, Stacey most often goes along with. Neil smiles broadly when thinking about his antics. Stacey grins, preferring a quiet conspiracy to Neil’s conspicuousness. If proof is needed that opposites do indeed attract, look no further than these two. While not exactly non-verbal, Stacey is usually the quiet type – a perfect match for her talkative companion who is more than happy to do all the talking for her. However, don’t be fooled by Stacey’s sagacious silence. Conventional wisdom tells us to watch out for those quiet types, and Stacey’s subtle grin is nothing less than a cheerlead to Neil’s audaciousness . They are definitely on the same page, especially when it comes to celebrities. Stacey is not shy about her obsession. Quote: guys in ties and ties on guys. Unquote. Neil is especially vocal about, quote, scantily clad celebrities, unquote.
While typical society may use such fetishes to pander to itself, Neil and Stacey seem to turn such pandering into a parody. It shows in their artwork. Neil has a painting of Nicky Hilton that looks nothing like her, nor is his impression of her as sexy as his headline promises. Neil’s paintings are usually rushed – an impression of an impression – effectively robbing his subjects of their celebrity. Stacey’s paintings have more time invested in their execution. However, their cartoon quality is unavoidably, even if unwittingly, satirical. Stacey’s paintings seem to suggest that celebrities are forever doomed to be cariciatures of themselves.
This is where Neil makes the perfect accomplice for Stacey. Put one of Neil’s “sexy celebrities” between Stacey’s “guys in ties” (see above), and you get the autism perspective of society as the ultimate celebrity stalker. The ballooned smiles of Stacey’s men can almost be taken as primal cravings for a primitive, just barely feminine, celebrity. Could such irreverent homage mean that Neil and Stacey are as much laughing at the objects of their affection as they are admiring them?
If there’s an answer to that question, we’ll probably never know. Neither Neil nor Stacey has an agenda of social commentary, and if the exaggerated media personalities bring them to laughter, it’s because it really is that funny. Neil has even made a game of it. He loves to rattle off a tedious list of ladies names, a ritual he finds even more thrilling when Stacey joins in. It’s quite a sight to see and hear. Neil speaks, Stacey repeats. This continues for so long that you begin to wonder if they will ever stop. When they do, finally, Neil laughs and Stacey grins. Onlookers might find themselves laughing too, although, do not kid yourself – they are not laughing with you.
Here’s the best part. When the laughter stops, Neil and Stacey resume their static expressions and walk away, going their separate ways, as if nothing had happened. What happens next is anyone’s guess. Just know that if at any moment you see either of them grinning, brace yourself. They’re up to something.
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