Over a week ago I had that conversation with a friend over Facebook messenger (not The Friend who is coming to visit, but a different one), we were just chatting about the weather and our plans for the day. It was very hot in here, although not unbearable, at least not for me, and at some point I sent her the following message:
I may wear a dress and go to the park.
For which she responded with such an unusual comment:
I also wore a dress in a park a few times.
Strange thing to say, wouldn’t you agree? It made me think that she was trying to tell me that’s how she sees my conversation attempts. It made me uncomfortable for a bit but I finally got over it.
Ok – I said. – Is everything well with you otherwise?
Yes. What about you? – she asked.
And then that cunning plan suddenly appeared in my mind. I’ll show her how I see her conversation attempts. She’s very sociable, chatty and constantly looking for ways to connect with people. I don’t quite know how she’s achieving it without passing on any important information, but then I guess it must be me again getting things wrong and assuming that people connect through information exchange (but if it’s not through that, how do they do that? I don’t understand). Without much thinking I typed the following answer:
I’m well, thanks. How is work going with the rest and is the rest OK and the plan to be there in time to be there in time to be able by next time I am sure you will have time for a quick visit to help you to make your trip down to London to be with me in a couple hours or something for me and the kids in a couple weeks for a birthday hug from me so I’ll be in the evening for a coffee lunch or two for dinner and dinner at the cinema for the night of Sunday 14th November and Sunday evening as I have an evening open evening and will probably stay for a bit longer as we are in a hotel and a hotel in a few weeks.
What? – She asked, clearly surprised. Obviously I didn’t see her face expression but she never asks ‘what?’, that’s how I knew.
I’ve heard that neurotypical people, like you, say random things in conversation, whatever comes to their mind, so I wanted to get similar effect by using predictive text. But I don’t think that was very successful, was it? – I responded.
It did look like she at least found it funny. I always liked when people can laugh at themselves.
Anyway, since that conversation it really bothers me that I can’t work out how neurotypical people communicate. I mean, not that it didn’t bother me before that. Also it doesn’t seem like anyone is half as focused on how autistics communicate. That doesn’t seem very fair, does it?
A few hours later I wrote:
I’m coming back from the park, wearing a dress.
It was meant to be a joke, and also a hint that I feel we’re connecting. Joke, because it did look a bit like possibly I was going to take the dress off when I was in the park (well, at least that’s how I see my own comment), and the hint that we’re connecting because I assumed she’ll remember what I was talking about earlier on. That’s how I see it: if I connect with people, I remember what they said. I didn’t get any answer to that, however. I don’t know how to comment on that.
We are back in touch, I mean. But I didn’t get any answer to my comment about the park and a dress. And somehow I had to get on with it. I’m not quite sure how I managed.
And you know, it’s not like I’m trying to learn how to talk to people. That would be pointless, you know? If I try to copy other people communication, they may, at best, feel like they’re connecting with me, but I won’t get the feeling I’m connecting with them. If I’m myself, then neither of us feel like we’re connecting with the other one so at least we’re equal.