I've always had poor social skills, which is another trait extremely common among individuals with autism. The concept of socializing is such an abstract one, and not easily confined to any hard and fast rules. There are some basic, but abstract, guidelines; unfortunately, they are difficult for me to conceptualize, and do not translate easily from one situation to the next.
While I did seek more social involvement in the hope of learning better social skills, I often wouldn't recognize an important social situation even when it stared me in the face. Helen was a cheerleader who flirted with me, though I didn't realize it at the time. I liked her friendliness. Her blond curly bangs intrigued me too. I suppose she knew I wouldn't ask her to go to football games with me, so she had to find ways of getting me to go without actually asking me herself.
"Danny, I learned that Mr. Cheshier is expecting you to attend the game this Friday night," she told me.
"He is?" I asked incredulously.
"Yes," she said, "I'll be glad to meet you there in front of the gate so you won't feel lost."
Mr. Cheshier, the principal, had always been kind to me, and I admired him a great deal, so I accepted the generous offer. I borrowed a car from a relative and drove to the stadium. There Helen stood, as promised, just in front of the gates, her hands clasped in front of her.
"Glad you could make it," she said with a grin. She took my hand, then stopped and smoothed her short pleated skirt. "Some guy came by, and told me that I look sexy in this," she said rather coyly.
"Oh, really? I wonder why?" I commented.
Helen gave me the strangest look before proceeding into the stadium. After a series of cheers, she took a seat beside me.
"Oh, Gosh! I left my money at home. Will you go get me a cold drink?"
"Sure," I said, and dutifully went to the concessions.
After the game, we walked to her car. "Thanks for the nice date," she said.
I looked at her uncertainly. "Umm . . . what date?" I replied awkwardly.
She grinned. "Well, see you tomorrow."
In my final year of high school, Helen met me after school a few times. Occasionally, she mentioned that she wanted to meet me at the altar someday. I had no idea at the time that she was hinting at marriage. I met Helen again years later. We still laugh and tease that we could have had a happy marriage if I hadn't been so dense.
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