Day Thirteen: The Jokes on Me


It’s well known that people with Asperger’s are sometimes a bit gullible, especially when it comes to jokes. Here’s a special story for Day Thirteen…my absolutely favorite number in all the universes! Good to balance the deep and profound with some light-hearted laughter, every now and again. Enjoy.

I was a bit naïve when I was a young adult, very gullible, and easily confused by jokes. Those were my vulnerable-gentle years, where I feared life more than explored, and often hid in the house afraid of the stream of emotions I experienced when I was around others. This isn’t to say I didn’t appear normal. I was a good actress, after all.

While walking one summer day on the sidewalks of my suburban town with my dear college friend Jodie, my gullibility shined bright. We were newly friends then (soon to be best friends), with so much to learn about one another. I remember the exact place we were on our path, when Jodie fooled me. I remember because, even now, I still chuckle about the event.

During our stroll Jodie informed me that she was from Washington. On hearing her pronounce the word Washington, with a tongue-rolling r-sound (Warshington), I laughed. Jodie guffawed, raising her brow, as if I’d done something entirely incorrect and worth admonishing. “Why are you laughing?” she asked.

“Well,” I stammered. Not sure what to think of this inquiry. “I just thought it was funny the way you said Washington. How you made it sound like it has the letter r—there’s no r in Washington.”

Jodie was unmoved in her expression, if anything she appeared more stern. “What do you mean?” she asked. She hit her thigh slightly, and the crease of a grin edged upward on one side of her face. I watched with curiosity. Jodie continued: “Oh, you think I meant Washington D.C. No. No. No. I’m talking about the state of Washington. The one up north. You know there is a difference, don’t you?” Jodie faced me with a full smile, reading me with her green eyes.

I shrugged my slight shoulders, and debated about what to say. Before I could speak, Jodie continued. “Don’t you know the state of Washington is spelled with an r?” She spelled it out slowly and surly: W-a-r-s-h-i-n-g-t-o-n. And she said it again, but this time super slowly: “Warsh-ing-ton!”

I blinked quickly. “What? No, it isn’t,” I answered, with my trademark nervous giggle.

Jodie continued, stating her case in a matter-of-fact way. She was so sure of herself. So confident. So……..experienced! I reasoned I’d always been a bad speller, mixing up letters, omitting consonants and vowels, why not now? And here Jodie stood, from the state of Washington; she’d had to know what she was talking about. Didn’t she?

Jodie continued. “A lot of people get the two Washingtons mixed up.” She winked.

“Oh, wow!” I said, feeling a bit relieved that I wasn’t the only one who’d mistaken the spelling. “I never realized that.” I breathed in, evaluating Jodie’s expression. She seemed pleased with herself, but there was this awful silence. I quickly added, trying to save face, “Good thing to know, since I’m going to be a school teacher.” With my last words, I settled back into the walk, glad to be corrected, and thinking more on my tanned legs than anything that had verbally transpired. It was nice having an intelligent friend.

Jodie nodded her head in agreement, and picked up the pace of our walk. She held her silence for some time, at least a few blocks, before, after a brief moment of noise that sounded like a toad caught in her throat, Jodie broke out in a husky, rip-roaring laughter. “Oh, Honey,” she said. “I can’t make you go on thinking that.”  She laughed some more, trying to catch her breath. “It was a joke. You were right before.  There is no r.  It’s just the way I pronounce it.”  She laughed some more. Her face equally as red as mine.

I took a second to evaluate the situation, before busting up myself and shaking my head in disbelief.

Day Twelve: Behind the Curtain


This is an excerpt from a previous journal entry in 2009. I wrote Behind the Curtain before I realized that I had traits of Asperger’s Syndrome. As I reflect back to this time period of my life, I now recognize that I was searching  for any explanation, in order to attempt to sort out the disorder in my mind.

Behind the Curtain

I made a decision a long time ago, when I was old enough to venture across the street on my own and play in the open field, that I would try to be a good person.  I already knew more than I ought to have known about the world, I suppose.

I remember years back looking up at the wide-open sky and wondering where the universe ended and more so where I began.  I recognized I wasn’t just my flesh and skin, was so overly aware of the inner core of my being that I felt as if I were walking a narrow line between this realm and the next.  There was turmoil at home, which left me with a general uneasiness, but there was another more defining uneasiness building inside of me, piling one atop the other, an unsettling recognition that there was so much more than the grownups could explain, and more so, ever venture to understand themselves.

Such knowing, at a young age, carries with it insecurity and reckoning of the uncertainties of the world, an acknowledging that reality isn’t what one’s peer group believes.   There was a stepping out of sorts, a separating at this point of my life, a kindling of new insight that propelled me onto the other side of the street, so to say.  As if, I was standing alone, isolated and curious, observing my playmates across the way.  I could hear them, I could even speak and they would acknowledge my presence, but I couldn’t join them.  My thoughts were a deep canvas, a three-dimensional painting I could step into and live.  From my side of the road, I would watch with wonder and interest, recognizing my own separation from humanity, without understanding what in actuality I was experiencing.  It was then, about the time most kids were discovering the wonderment of above-ground pools and slip and slides, I was discovering simultaneously the limit of my mind and the un-limitness of the universe.  I had wanted desperately to understand where I belonged and where I fit in, for I wasn’t as the birds left to fly in the sky; I wasn’t an adult with the freedoms; and to me, I wasn’t a child.  The others were all different than me.  It was as if I had been given an alternate pair of lenses in the way I interpreted the happenings around me, in the way I analyzed the truth behind words, and the actions behind truths.

I knew too well already about death and dying, as I knew too well about living.   I knew when I slept my dreams would come like torrent winds and tear me from where I slept and carry me forward into another realm of consciousness.   And I knew well the dreams would sometimes speak to me and give me glimpses into the future.   I could tell my mother things, speak to her about the dreams, and then we would watch together to see if the  essence of my dreams was true, if in fact the dream had revealed an element of an event to come.   And often the dreams did.

Knowing a dream can speak, can whisper some form of truth, and can open a door and allow one to peek into another universe is most unsettling to say the least.  But then, as a child, when I stopped to analyze the happenings, to grasp why I knew things before they occurred, I felt a shudder of confusion, and further uncertainty about where I stood, where I breathed, where I actually dwelled on the planet.

And I knew things about people, I felt certain I shouldn’t ought to feel.   I could tell things about people, understand their intention, feel a part of their spirit. From early on in my life, certain people left me feeling heavy and invaded, while others, though nothing on the outside was perceivable peculiar or different, left me with a flowing sense of calmness and general well being.  Some people felt like gifts, a present I wanted to play with and keep close to heart, while others I wanted to return from whence they came.  I wondered what was in people that made them thus so.  Why some seemed so light and airy, and others weighed down by an invisible ghost of woes.  I wished to speak, to find out, and became increasingly inquisitive and interested in adults, for I secretly hoped one of them would have an answer for me.  I searched out a guide, even though I knew not what I was searching for, or even that I was searching, and I am certain they came to me at different intervals in my life as needed, though I did not recognize them.

As I grew older, the feelings inside of me also grew, filling up every inch of new space.  I was so abundantly filled with emotions that at times I often felt as if I were drowning inside my own being.  I could hear things by then, too.  See things.  See things no one else I had encountered could.  I continually felt more isolated and lonely, though I had people around me, I nonetheless remained isolated in thought and spirit.  It seemed to me that no one understood me.  For years I longed to be like my classmates.  I came to see them as narrower and straighter than me, like the letter “x,”so that nothing could fill them and leave them gasping for air; wherein I perceived myself as wide and curved, like the letter “o,” so that everything and anything could use me as a vessel.

The later years were painfully difficult.  When the teenage trials came, I felt bombarded and stampeded with emotions.  If there was ever a time I believed I was from another universe, it was then.  I played a game—that is how I saw it.  I pretended to be someone.  I was lost, lost on some stage, trying to find where I’d hidden my true self.

I still feel as if a part of me is hiding somewhere, afraid to come out entirely, for fear of misunderstanding and judgment.  The tender part of me, the piece of myself that doesn’t understand in the smallest bit the cruelty and harshness of this world, remains divided and alone, always hidden behind the curtain.