“Ah, so that explains a lot” I hear you say. I know a couple of you were curious about the pink shirts. But before I go for the big reveal (ooh! errr…) I need to backtrack a bit and start with a few questions.
With how many people from high school do you still have contact? University? Previous jobs? How many of your current coworkers do you regard as friends? IE with how many do you socialise outside work? How many neighbours do you know on a close basis and regard as friends?
If the answer to all of those questions is “None”, then welcome to my world. You see, I have this innate ability to bore the shit out of people, especially when talking about something that interests me. I have this incredible ability to antagonise people and turn them against me, to alienate them and say exactly the wrong thing ( usually what I happen to be thinking) at exactly the wrong time. I hate being in large, noisy crowds of strangers and really don’t like revealing personal information about myself and especially my kids. I keep myself to myself around people I don’t know and generally act with diffidence and an air of suspicion around strangers.
I’ve always been like that, I was always a loner as a child, and never part of any group or inclusive crowd at school, and that’s one of the reasons I’ve always done my best to avoid social situations. I go to my local pub, where I’m a member of an exclusive group, but even with other members there, or on a crowded night I’m the one person sitting silently and reading “The Economist”. I can share a table and not say a word to the other people. How does that strike you?
Fast Forward to my second year at business school. Due to a freak confluence of events, I was able to attend one of the social evenings ( I know what I said, by my ex hated the school and everyone associated with it so attending was a major “Fuck you!” in her direction). I was standing near the bar, minding my own business and not talking to anyone (no surprise there) when someone walked up behind me and asked me “Are you ########?” I was, so replied in the affirmative to a not especially tall, strikingly attractive blonde woman who introduced herself as the person who regularly sat behind me in Accounting class. I had no idea who she was and indeed had no idea she and I had even been in the same room. She explained that she’d wanted to meet me after asking around and gleaning some information from people who knew me. She refused to give any names, but I had a pretty good idea.
We got talking, and I have to admit it was the most enjoyable conversation I’d had in a long time, as my companion was ( and indeed still is) an incredibly vivacious and forthright spirit who simply crackles with energy. After a while, she hit me with what I can only describe as the greatest pickup line in the history of humanity. Don’t get ahead of yourself: at the time she was engaged, and now is married. Even if she’d been single, I was still married, nevertheless, it was a question that made her one of my all time favourite people. She looked me in the eyes and at point blank range asked “Do you have Asperger’s Syndrome?”
Holy shit! And this barely half an hour after speaking to me for the first time. I pondered for a few seconds before replying. “I think so”. You see, I have an online friend who once sent me a link on an online diagnostic Asperger’s test, and I came up as on the spectrum, not enough to make me an internet billionaire, or even a slaughterhouse designer, but on the scale for sure.
Fast forward again to my best friend’s wedding (see “I Knew The Bride…). There were plenty of people from school there, and both my sweetie and I expected plenty of opportunities to socialise and catch up with people. Oh boy, where we wrong. Let me give you two examples. We ran into some people in the lobby and the subject of Chichen Itza came up. We mentioned that we’d booked a trip for the Friday with a company that only does small groups, and the response was that they were planning to visit the site as well. Our trip consisted of us and four Germans, and who should we bump into at Chichen Itza, but the four people we’d talked to just a couple of days previously. we said some quick hellos and then didn’t see them again. One of our group celebrated his 30th birthday on the last night, and we were informed of this, but guess what? We heard no more, not even a quick “Hey, we’re off to such and such a bar, why don’t you join us?” In fact, during our entire stay, despite everyone knowing which room we were in, not one person included us in any event or gathering. In fact, apart from the bride and groom, no one even gave us the courtesy of a full conversation. See what I mean?
I will admit that the wedding reception may have contributed to this, but not to anything before: you see, we were at the table from hell – I wouldn’t have chosen to be at that table had my life depended on it. One couple I don’t talk to because of their bizarre opposition to having medical professionals present at a birth, one woman I thoroughly dislike ( entitled, spoiled princess), one woman who treats me with contempt and one couple who are pretty decent, but totally silent for most of the time. It was a big, noisy crowd with a lot of strangers, so I wasn’t at my best, and I will admit to having drunk just a little too much. One guy, a posh Londoner really got on my nerves and I got into a bit of a spat with him, but wtf? Apparently the anti modern medicine said “Nice to see you” when he arrived, but damned if I heard it. I spent most of the evening trying to work out why he shook my hand.
At some point, the speeches began, and that’s where I lost it. The father of the bride, a thoroughly lovely man, spoke about his daughter, and how much she meant to him. This got me thinking (never a good idea) about my own daughter and if I’ll live long enough to see her wedding day ( see “My Death”). I came over all maudlin and remained at the table drinking as everyone else moved towards the dance floor as the Mariachi band arrived. I drifted over to the back of the crowd out of boredom and couldn’t help myself from bursting into a few rounds of “Sing when you’re winning,you only sing when you’re winning” when the band struck up “Quantanamera”. You can take the boy out of the football ground, but you can’t take the football ground out of the boy.
By the time they were done, my sweetie was not in the best of moods, as you can imagine. I assumed we were staying, but she pointed out that it would just be dancing from then on, and I hate dancing. I can’t dance. In fact, I’ve seen people on fire move better than me, or as I prefer to say “Charlie don’t surf”. I collapsed into bed, a drunken mess, and that’s all she wrote.
I won’t even go in to how I ruined our close friend’s Shivaree when I ran out of steam and went to take a nap, blocking access to the bathroom by locking the bedroom door – I’ll save that for another post.
Come Thanksgiving, and things were not much better. We watched “I Heart Huckabees”, one of my sweetie’s favourite films, but I just didn’t get it and kept waiting for the plot to start. My advice: don’t, because it doesn’t. We had a bit of an argument about it and I turned in, again, slightly tired and emotional. The next day at breakfast she said “I think you have Asperger’s Syndrome” to which I replied, “Yeah, I know I do”.
New readers start here. So this is my question: Wtf do I do? Do I embrace it and damn the torpedoes? Do I hide it and pretend to give a shit or to be enjoying myself? I don’t see how therapy would help, but what would? Seriously, how do I avoid being even more isolated than I am already? How do I tell the people I know – they sure as heck don’t read this blog!
Write your answers on the back of a bottle of 26 year old single malt whisky and send it to ……