Friday, January 16, 2009

Inside My Little Box

I talked to my brother today for the first time in several months. He's had "phone issues" which have not provided him with the means to call out long distance. I never received an explanation of how (or if?) this situation had been resolved, but there he was on the phone.

Amongst the many topics we got caught up on, one concerned some of my quirky behaviors as a child -- ones that exerted a far greater influence on Sean's life than I ever realized! He told me he has done some research on Asperger's Syndrome (AS) and is certain that it definitely describes his rather odd older brother.

Back in the day when our nuclear family was still intact (before my parent's divorce, remarriage, then re-divorce), one of our routine family outings was to go to Zeppi's Pizza & Pub near the intersection of 85th & Wornall Rd. in Kansas City, MO.

Both of my parents LOVED pizza and Zeppi's Pizza, in particular. Though, as an adult, I too love pizza, back when I was younger, I decided I did not like it.

Years later I surmised WHY I thought this. My father was a cigar smoker and his taste buds were, shall we say, a bit deadened. Consequently, eating a pizza with Italian sausage on it wasn't enough for him. He had to shake red pepper over the whole thing too. I've never liked spicy "hot" food and so I associated pizza with spicy hot.

Consequently, before we could go to Zeppi's, we first had to stop at Smack's Hamburgers, so my little brother and I could get our meal to go. As a very routinized individual, I ALWAYS ordered the same thing -- a plain hamburger with ketchup. No pickles. No mustard. No cheese. Just meat, bun and ketchup.

Sean always ordered the same thing. However, I've now learned that he did this solely to be like big brother. He actually longed for the day in which I would move outside of my routine, a day that never came. So, he kept ordering a meal he didn't really want. He says it took him years to get up the nerve to order something different.

This whole scenario puzzles me because I certainly didn't think I had anything to do with what he ordered. It would have been quite fine with me if ordered a different sandwich each time. I've never demanded that other people conform to my personal rituals; I only ask that they don't try to divert me from them.

But this unawareness is very common for people with AS. If I had been better at picking up social cues, maybe I would have noticed that my brother kept ordering something other than what he preferred. Alas, I never noticed.

Sean also remembered a time (after my parents were divorced, I think) when father purchased the wrong kind of jelly for my daily peanut butter and jelly sandwich. According to Sean, I became so discombobulated that I ended up smashing two plates against the wall. Though I don't recall this incident, I believe him because it sounds like something I could have done.

The great thing now is that I'm an adult and I live on my own with my wife. I can easily keep to my rituals without unduly influencing or upsetting other people. Thank goodness I have a patient and understanding wife!!

1 comment:

  1. Having a non-judging and acceptance of myself and not holding anyone to my expectations is something I work on daily. Be grateful for kindness. It is like a visit of a butterfly, it delights.


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