Tag Archives | memoir

Mixed Doubles

Rowing Together at Windsor on the Thames - original photo

Rowing Together at Windsor on the Thames – original photo

Twenty years ago, I worked at a small company with two Mikes. One Monday, Mike A and Mike B were walking down the hall together, each dressed in the same shade of khakis and a light blue oxford shirt. As they drew close. I joked about their uniform appearance. Mike B replied, “The real question is, are we wearing the same color underwear?” Before I could think of a response, he added, “It’s a trick question. I’m not wearing any.”

That is the funniest thing I have heard in my life.

Ever since, when it strikes me, I repeat those words—sometimes for hours—delighting in each iteration. “It’s a trick question. I’m not wearing any.” When with dear friends, they appreciate my glee and suffer my repetition. The person who suffers most is my wife Karen, my closest confidante. With her, I can be my unadulterated, ridiculous self. With her, I can be purely autistic while being accepted and cherished.

But it was not always so.

Making Sense

derived from <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/kermitfrosch/5376271001">"Time Expired"</a> by kermitfrosch/flickr, used under <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">creative commons by 2.0</a>

It was 1971. It was nearly four decades before I knew I was autistic. It was 25 years before soccer moms. It was the year, on one particular day, I discovered magic inside my brain.

I had orchestra rehearsal that day. I played string bass. Both the bass—quite a bit larger than my slight thirteen year old body—and I needed a ride home when practice was over late in the afternoon. We both made our way to the doorway of the school, to wait for my mother to pick us up and drive us two and a half miles in time for one of us to have dinner.

My mother had six children. Keeping up with them, even keeping track of them, was quite a challenge. This time, as was typical, the other orchestra kids had already been picked up. The staff had locked up the school for the day. A cold, rainy evening was settling in. In this age there was no handheld wizardry to occupy me. It was too dark, too wet, to read. So I retreated into the only truly comfortable place I have ever known: my mind.

Letting Him Out

derived from <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-74741107/stock-photo-alone-  man.html">"alone man"</a> by luxorphoto/Shutterstock, used under <a   href="http://www.shutterstock.com/license">Shutterstock Standard License</a>I had a boy nobody knew about: a feeble autistic child. I was barely an adult myself when I put him away. I had no options. And I told no one what I did.

My boy avoided people. He would slip off to the basement, hiding in the narrow space behind the furnace, comforted by solitude and constriction. He barely ate. He rarely spoke. I knew my rail thin, silent child was not made for this world. To protect him — from himself and others — I found a place for him behind thick walls.
He was isolated, but safeguarded. It was the best solution I could come up with.

The years passed while I kept my dark secret. I would lie awake at night, picturing the young boy,

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