MY MOTHER SAYS I’M WEIRD, BUT SHE DOESN”T UNDERSTAND.
Two years ago, I asked my father if I could borrow his Ford Falcon, as he was going out with some friends and wanted it clean but wouldn’t have time. So I took it and had it cleaned at the laser wash centre. My mother, even though it had nothing to do with her, asked, “Why do you want the Falcon? Are you going to see your girlfriend?” My response was, “No, and if I had a girlfriend, she would have to be autistic.” “Oh, you’re fussy, aren’t you? She’d have to be autistic.”
Now, I have long believed that denying two people from two different cultural backgrounds to get married is akin to dictating what make, model and colour of car they can drive. My grandfather, for all his good intentions, didn’t understand that you shouldn’t let other people influence your choices. I know a number of people do tend to stick to their own cultural groups, be it for familial reasons, or others, and I am not saying they should or shouldn’t, and nor am I saying that autistics should only marry other autistics, autistics who want to get married should marry whomever they want. (I don’t, for one minute, accept the garbage from that Brisbane doctor that men and women can never be just friends or if they do they could miss out on forming meaningful relationships. This doctor was not saying, “The Country Women’s Association or The Men’s Shed are great concepts,” (The CWA does not exist as a gender exclusive organisation, it’s a place where women, united by their experiences of living in the country, gather together to discuss cake recipes and the like. Similarly, the Men’s Shed doesn’t exist as a gender exclusive organisation, it’s a venue whereby men, be they single, married, widowed, divorced can go to do hobbies such as woodworking, and they chat about issues regarding their health, their grandkids and help reduce isolation. I am sure that NO SENSIBLE DOCTOR, who might suggest for an isolated man who wants to get out and about, that he join the Men’s Shed and mix exclusively with other men.) he was saying that men and women should only ever mix with their own gender, other than getting married, a concept which is beyond preposterous. What I am saying is, if I wanted a partner, I would need someone who understood my quirks and eccentricities, and my idiosyncrasies.
I was in a relationship with a neurotypical woman many years ago, and it was a total disaster. I’m not saying that one means it’s all wrong, but my ex-girlfriend could not understand why I needed to have things a certain way. She couldn’t understand why I wanted to have KYB Shock Absorbers on my car and why I would have a heart attack if a mechanic suggested Monroe. Nor could she understand why, if I bought a non-Japanese car, it would have to have KYB Shocks fitted before I’d take delivery. She couldn’t understand why, when I got dressed (this was at a time when Australia still had a bit of a textile, clothing and footwear industry) that I needed to balance my clothes (as in an Australian made shirt and Chinese jeans). I am not saying that an autistic woman would necessarily understand this, but she would have her own quirks and eccentricities.
Another factor that went against this woman and I (my mother’s earlier conditioning had a role to play in this) was that I didn’t see doing particular tasks as being gender defined. Okay, now my gastrointestinal issues limit me to what is defined as bachelor food, but I can cook. My mother thought it weird that I wanted to learn to cook, even though some of the best chefs in the world are men, as opposed to learning woodwork or metalwork. My ex-girlfriend, lazy though she was, couldn’t abide me doing the cooking.
Autistic people can, and do, marry neurotypical folks and sometimes the relationship can work, although I do remember a person saying that they had to mask so their partner wasn’t embarrassed by them in public. The latter is NOT the sign of a good relationship. I would not want to be forced to mask, I want to be my true self. And an autistic accepting world is the only way to achieve that.