For Day Fifteen, I wanted to write about Death Terror; you know that gripping existential fear that we subconsciously all suppress but that surfaces in subliminal ways in our waking hours. Or in my pathetic case, the all-encompassing dread that bypasses the subconscious and just haunts me pretty much 24/7.
But I figured Death Terror would be just a little bit too bleak for Valentine’s Day.
I tinkered with writing about this term I’ve coined Flash-Sense, the sensation a person has when he or she gets a flash from the past, an extreme sensory experience that seemingly connects the past to the present in one blast. But that would have been a long boring list of all these fragmented memories that have been coming back to me locomotive-speed-fast, since my diagnosis of ASD. And although, I super-dee-duper love lists, and will gladly write you one anytime, (and edit your diary while I’m at it), I didn’t think a list of my current flash backs would interest you much.
And so I asked myself, what would make me happy to read on Valentine’s Day? I scratched out (in my mind) the idea of love and gushiness—‘cause seriously how many people want to read about a middle-aged married woman proclaiming her love for her husband? (Besides my mom.) Nope. Scratched that one.
And thus, I was left with the old fall back, something I’ve always been super good at doing; it’s one of those hidden talents that catches people by surprise. Sort of like a cute cuddly kitten hacking up a fur ball on your new carpet. Yes, I thought for Valentine’s Day, I’d treat you to one of the most embarrassing moments in my life, and then we could all laugh together; and maybe you might offer out some of your secrets; especially if you’re not going to let me edit your diary, quite yet.
I’m thinking you’re with me on that one. I mean about skipping the whole Death Terror prose; although, doesn’t it sound a little intriguing?
But alas, instead, my fine friends, the story I shall scribe for attentive audiences involves the wonderful magnificent Asperger’s trait of NO CLUE WHATSOEVER. (Write that in your silly-old DSM-V, Stupid Heads.) Did I make that clear enough?
Here it is, the story, The Proverbial Foot in my Mouth.
(And still she digresses???) I will say, it’s not as bad as the time I told my roommate’s brother, in passing (whom had just graduated from college with a teaching credential): “Congratulations, the chances of you getting hired are great, since you’re an ethnic minority and a male!” But it’s pretty close.
And then there was the time, just three months ago, (love you number three), that I asked my son’s math teacher, while I was working with the students in her middle school classroom, “Do you actually like math?”
And after she responded with an adamant, but very odd-sounding, “yes,” I still (perpetually clueless) responded, “Really? I don’t.”
Hmmm? And I hadn’t yet figured out I had Asperegers? Go figure.
This story is similar, only time stood still, in the way it stands still while you’re waiting for that call from the doctor about those tests, or waiting for that special someone to return your call, or waiting for your dog to take a poop in the rain, and tugging and tugging at his leash, but he just won’t finish, and you forgot your jacket, and you’re soaking wet, and cursing at yourself because you’re still not used to the Pacific Northwest weather….yes, that last one, that’s the ticket—that’s a clear reflection of the inner agony of everlasting time that victimized poor little clueless me.
Once, not too long ago, (in a far away suburban neighborhood with little trees that hadn’t yet grown tall and lots of concrete), my friendly neighbor, the type that’s always kind and willing to lend a hand, well, he returned from a trip that he had taken back to his home of origin in another country.
And me, in my infinite blindness, having been caught in the front yard by said kindly neighbor, (before I had time to duck behind the bushes and sneak into the backyard), graciously accepted my predicament, and partook in the ritual of small talk. (Definition: What people do when they’re connecting out of courtesy and societal norms, but they don’t have anything substantial they want to offer out at the moment, because they don’t trust or know the person, or worse, don’t want to bother. But they know they’re supposed to, so they talk anyways; even though it’s typically meaningless, and both partners know they really could care less; but they are sort of stuck, so have to proceed anyhow.)
Returning to the story. Me and my neighbor (and I mean me and my neighbor, not my neighbor and I—because let’s get real, this encounter was all about me—my processing, my nervousness, my fear. The guy in the jeans and white t-shirt, he was kind of an afterthought.)
Starting again. (You are so patient. Has anyone ever told you that?)
Me and my neighbor, we were engaging in this dance I like to call the Small Talk Tango. (Insert music here. Any type you like. I’ll adjust to it, and probably make it my favorite eventually, if you’ll be my best friend.)
First I wave.
Then he waves.
Then I look at my shoes; they need to be cleaned.
Then I notice my face heating up in embarrassment because I am in the presence of another earthling other than immediate family. And he is the male species, which causes me to turn a deeper shade of crimson, than the females cause me to turn.
Then I shuffle ahead; force myself to make eye contact with his chin. (He has a nice chin, but needs a shave.)
Then I search my brain, similarly to how I search on Google, input the words: talking to neighbor + help!
Hit return key.
“I’m fine thank you,” I answer, because he’s spoken somewhere in between the chin and input.
“How was your trip?” I ask.
Steady and appropriate tone. Check.
My little inner voice supporting the process shouts: Good Job!
Quick, high-risk glance at male species’ brown eyes.
Return to chin.
Closed mouth, medium-sized grin. (Deleting image of full mouth with big teeth from brain.)
“Great,” my neighbor answers. (He’s a fast processor.)
Time to insert remaining string of data.
I offer, in a happy-go-lucky, I’m-as-cute-as-a-puppy, tone: “I bet you’re glad to be back!”
Need more data.
Thinking. Keep it real and simple.
…because it’s so much cleaner here!”
Smile with some teeth, offering out support.
Wondering if I flossed the spinach out.
He’s not responding.
His face is curling into itself.
Kind neighbor does not look so kind.
He sort of looks like I told him his zipper was undone.
What’s that look?
The running voice in my head speaks louder. (The running voice is that little inner voice; the voice that sounds like me; at least the voice that sounds like me when I speak inside my head; which is actually different from the voice you hear with your ears; so you’ll never know what my inner voice sounds like; thus the thoughts of existential isolation and death terror resurfacing…)
Oh, double crap! !
Inner voice retreating, abandoning ship, leaving me no raft.
Blinking red light; beware.
Responding to the alarm.
Insert something to break never-ending, dog-relieving-self-in-the-rain silence.
“I only mean… I’ve heard it’s so…
Emphasis on dirty.
Hearing heartbeat in both ears which are both aflame.
Need to escape.
Two strikes and OUT!
He spends the longest minute explaining, in a very diplomatic and kindly manner, the error of my comment, while I break into the equivalent of ten thousand pieces, each piece shouting out the way I should have small-talked.
Lots of chatter in my head. But no reliable inner voice, still.
Big smile. No teeth. No words.
Big wave of hand.
Can’t feel face. But I think I’m still grinning.
Another big nod.
And a final lie.
“Great catching up.”
“Walk slowly, so you don’t appear like you’re in a panic; casual-like,” little voice, inside head, offers, in a meek little tone, knowing she’s in deep doo-doo. Her, and whomever runs the Google in my head.
“Sorry,” little voice whispers.
(P.S. This only took me an hour to write, but four to spell-check and grammar-check. I kid you not!)