Living with an Aspie can put you into the position of defending basic social conventions that are so second nature you start by sifting through all your human rights and personal values, face askance before you find the words to build your case. Once you get over the whole I don’t believe I’m having this conversation with an adult and stop trying to control the outcome you’re in for a riddle-me-this go-round that’s by turns both fascinating and aggravating, per subject matter that skirts the bounds of the normal upsets that come between two people.
Unbeknownst upfront, it’s me I end up wrestling with. As the argument progresses I discard certain cherished beliefs and double down on others, separate what stands to reason from what are self-righteous shibboleths I reflexively parrot with little to support them but the stamina that results from strongly held convictions, fused by a rusted alloy of unexamined thoughts and feelings.
That said, the plumber’s crack is back. Long after we put it to bed with decisive finality I’m doing the jaw drop for the first time since the new suspenders and here we’ve been getting along so well.
He’s not tormenting me, I’m not being punished. Feels that way but keep it real. I am trying to stay the person who lambasts authoritarianism, renounces the tyranny of “shoulds” with a line of demarcation between his stuff and my stuff without taking the former personally but I have never known the brute will to straighten out another person the way I do since we’ve been a thing. Not only do I wish to control him, I am thisclose to telling anyone who crosses the line how to get their business straight. The first thing I’d make him do is to admit how much he wants to lead me around. Nothing safeguards these impulses if people aren’t upfront about having them. But hey, there I go again, being right and shit!
Where I go wrong and shit is in a rock-solid certainty that I have failed, as his woman by letting my Aspie out of the house in poor form and slipshod grooming. Tongues wag, people shine their little flashlights in your face, things you do reflect on your life partner, and I have enough of my own damn karma to take on guilt by association. Second, it’s deviant, but icky deviant and pointlessly so. To display a private, sexual body part is intrusive, distasteful, unsettling, and will build neighbors who point to our home and say; Spread the word. You want to keep your kids away from the house of the creepy oddball.
Next, I said, Why are you doing this. This is so not you. You don’t hunker down in our close-knit little bourgie community, disdain contact, menace and rave, like the 1980s reeling Nick Cave. What you do is pitch in, spend your day lugging care packages off a truck at the Central Texas Food Bank, filling the stomachs of hungry children for free. But with your buttocks, your intergluteal cleft on display every time you bend over, that can produce dissonance in fellow helpers, whose minds you are inviting to wander into all kinds of gross, unclean, pervy associations that do not represent the man I know you to be.
You don’t think this is hurting your self-image? Autistics are no more exempt from Stereotype Threat than any other member of a marginalized group!
What threat? What am I talking about? He’s no threat to anyone.
If I had a nickel…
I get it, I was a caustic punk rock kid, who studied semiotics, transgression and all that swastika up yours for fun theory and is now arguing for compliance with arbitrary social conventions, to an old-school hippie and would-be rule-worshipping Aspie, which classifies, if we’re doing incongruity.
Those parcels are heavy, it’s hot in Texas, underpants are sweaty, and he has a flat bottom. Pants won’t stay in place without uncomfortable accessories, he explained, and the plumber’s butt only appears when the suspenders slip, he crouches, bends over, is wearing his phone or his pockets fill up with coins.
“Everyone’s uncomfortable!” I shrieked. We tolerate the discomfort we’ve come to know rather than the unknown discomfort of look over there, what the hell is going on over there!? We savor this discomfort, anticipating the moment we can step out of our girdle and into our favorite chemise, the last step in a job well done. We’ll buy some silk pajamas, so you can know what it feels like to change from bad to good and relish the incomparable pleasure that comes from an end to suffering. I’m talking about pleasure second to none because you’ve earned it. How does that sound?
Not so nonpareil, it seems, when he can avoid the suffering by wearing what makes him comfortable in the first place. And if he scares people?! Not an issue, since he knows he is not a threat to anyone.
No one else knows! No one knows who’s a threat and who isn’t! There are rules! I thought you liked rules! Sartorial conventions are an attempt to reassure the body politic that all the players know what’s going on — everyone here wants to be safe – you can rely on me – I’m part of the tribe. There are no guarantees, but polite compliance gives all of us one less thing to worry about. People who expose their rear end to others are not to be trusted no matter what else they do, because it raises the question — if you’ll break this agreement, what else will you break? To which he replied that the NT world seems too demanding about how other people are supposed to act.
Are you testing me? No. Now thoroughly pissed that it’s looking as if he’d choose this indignity over us if it came to that, I gave it one more try. Just to check, we are talking about a butt crack I thought we put behind us three years ago (an irresistible yip that opened the door to his dad jokes), but I would not be deterred and let loose a deal-breaker — you have every right to feel good about yourself, and so do I. If exposing your backside is what it’s all about for you, then this is it, hon, because I can’t feel good about myself being with someone who does that.
We went to separate rooms and shut the door. Self-soothing, the cooling-off; important if there’s to be any honest discussion this evening. Later, when he told me that his intransigence rose from the thought I was accusing him of intentional harm, I said no, not intentional; unconscious, they’re not the same thing. But, whatever. Entering the consciousness of others is an autistic long-shot, so we settle for I didn’t mean to, which might sound like special pleading but if said by someone on the Spectrum to them it will be huge and sincere. They are known for adhering to a black and white code of ethics and are intense about doing the elusive right thing.
So, we stay together, in courage and valor and better suspenders. Or who knows, maybe I’m on the wrong side of history. Maybe when they have the 50th Annual Aspie Buttcrack Convention it will be revealed that bitches like me are neurotypical supremacists, but I wouldn’t do the last 24 hours any other way. And no one had to throw the monkey down. I’ll show you his monkey next time, for now, a shout out to the Gottman Method, for making us better at fighting, more playful and less fraught. We practice almost every day, my old man and me, on our firmest footing to date, boo-yah.