Posted by JF
Now that things have settled down just a bit, perhaps I can get back to blogging.
My family and I traveled out of state to my father-in-law’s funeral during my last hiatus. I have posted before about the experience of attending a funeral from an aspie standpoint before, so I already knew I was in for a slightly uncomfortable time. However, I was also very aware that I was going to have a very important job at this funeral – my FIL’s death hit my wife pretty hard. She handled it surprisingly well, but she was still emotional. I was there to support her, because aspies are superheroes when it comes to lending support during emotional times.
Able to not understand what the big deal is in a single shrug.
There were times where I found myself standing around with nothing to do, so I started doing what I enjoy doing in these types of situations: I began to observe human behavior for interesting patterns. It didn’t take me too long to find one. I started noticing how people were standing and talking together. I noticed that when two people stood together, they almost never faced each other. They stood with their feet at an angle to the other person, like a conversation deflection of sorts – I’m not really interested in talking to you, but I don’t want to seem rude and ignore you, so I’ll meet you halfway. It was pretty consistent no matter the age or gender.
I decided that I needed to learn this move, post haste.
Even more interesting was how this dynamic applied when there were more than two people standing together. The “angled feet” behavior was still present, with each person angling themselves to avoid directly facing either of the other people. And as the group grew, the people adjusted their angles to fit the group’s size, often positioning themselves to form a social semicircle.
It was fascinating. Seriously. I felt like Pavlov, only my subjects weren’t drooling dogs.
And my beard wasn’t quite as bitchin’.
The most interesting thing happened when…
Wait a minute…
That’s totally Robert Duvall with a humongous beard!
Ok, where was I? Oh yeah…
The most interesting thing happened when two groups came together to form a large “supergroup” of sorts. Each group would open up slightly to accept the merging group, and after a moment or two of jostling, the people would fall perfectly into the angled feet position! The supergroup would often be a fairly large circle at this point, with nobody talking or looking directly at anyone else, yet they were all having a conversation with everyone at the same time.
From here, the supergroup would break up and the participants would float around the room until they joined up with others to form smaller group chains. And this dynamic happened over and over again. It was like watching so weird social cellular cosmos, with people aimlessly colliding with one another over and over again. It was cool to watch. It was even cooler not to join in. Instead, in between consoling hugs for my wife, I was able to let my mind wander onto other meaningless things. Such as….
See? Didn’t I tell you?
Posted by JF
There was a death in my family last week and the services were this past weekend. It felt weird being at the funeral. It was my aunt who died, and I was very close with her for quite some time, until she started to have some mental health issues. Then things kinda sorta just… went. In all honesty, it was probably for the best that she went.
So the funeral was an experience, I’ll tell you that. I’m not quite sure exactly how funerals feel for neurotypical people, but for me it just felt kinda strange. The rest of my family was really shook up, my mom in particular. She was really upset, which I completely understand. I just had none of that going on in my head at all.
And there were Tootsie Rolls. I am not kidding.
It sucks to admit this, but I didn’t want to be there because I didn’t really understand what I was supposed to do. Mourn? How? The aspie side of my brain doesn’t really get it. Yes, she’s gone. Yes, she will be missed. But why am I sitting in a room for six hours with her dead body? Can’t we do this somewhere else? And what exactly is the “this” that we are doing?
I’ll just stand here and count to fifteen, then I’ll go sit back down.
I wasn’t all that saddened by her death. I looked at this as a positive – I was able to comfort my mother and relatives in their fragile states. With my detached emotional state comes a pseudo-strength that others can lean on. Until I start to get tired and want to go home, because I still don’t understand what I’m doing there.
But yeah, it was very interesting. In this situation, Aspergers was my ally. I always try to look at my aspie-ness as a blessing, but it was almost impossible not to when I saw the pain everyone else was in.
And there I go, making it all about me again.