I wanted to show another illustration of what it was like for me being a high school kid with Asperger’s while going to a regular high school and interacting with neurotypicals.
This is a blatant illustration of how bad things were for me, as these pair of excerpts describe my trips to Disneyland with my high school’s marching band during my junior and senior years and a particular incident that happened on both occasions.
These pair of excerpts are from Chapter 5 of my book, “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”, the chapter being called “ROUGH TIMES AT SAMOHI, PART ONE”.
Yes, I know I have posted excerpts from this chapter on this blog already, but seeing as these incidents were particularly traumatic and happened during the holiday season – thirty-something years ago this month – I thought it would be a good idea to write this.
OH, BY THE WAY:
I’m in the home stretch of my final editing and print-outs of the chapters to “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”; I have just three chapters to go before I can have it self-published.
In other words, this odyssey of mine is starting to get close to being done.
OK, here are more excerpts to “ROUGH TIMES AT SAMOHI, PART ONE”…
The performance went well enough, but in the grand tradition of deja-vu it was what happened afterwards, when we were sorting out who would have the glorious times with whom, that once again induced the type of trauma that I remember to this day…
I had found myself with a bunch of guys from the trombone and tenor saxophone sections. On the surface, they seemed friendly enough, and I was looking forward to having a crew to run around with in Walt Disney’s Original Magic Kingdom.
There we were, following the red line on the ground that led us from our buses to some back door that opened onto Adventureland when a couple of my so-called “crew” said to me, “Let’s check out Main Street! We need you to do a man test!”
So off we went, landing at an arcade that was reminiscent of those penny arcades that were all the rage around 1900. We came upon this Zoltar-type machine with these two metal handles, which was essentially the “man test” as the object was to grab those poles and see how long you could stand the electric shocks that ran through them.
“Go ahead Derek, you go first,” the guys were saying, goading me in that “Come and join the big boys and be part of the group” way, which of course I was more than willing to do because what average teenager doesn’t want to be part of something?
Most unfortunately, however, what ended up happening was something that was eerily similar to that bird poop sandwich episode that was put upon me in the 5th grade six years before, showing that with the naiveté that characterizes much of the young Asperger’s population, things often stay the same as far as the way non-aspie youngsters take advantage of them.
At least such was the case with this Aspie.
To get to the point, I was badly duped, dumped, and taken advantage of in a very cruel fashion by those fellow band members I was with.
I know this is so because as I was grabbing onto those handles, I saw out of the corner of my eye those so-called “friends” sprinting away, desperately hoping to ditch me and leave me to my dorky self, which I’m sure they thought of me as because if they didn’t think of me that way, they wouldn’t have ditched me the way they did.
I gave chase like some little kid being teased on the playground – deja-vu there, too – before I gave up and found myself standing there all by my lonesome, feeling the same way I felt the year before at that very same park when that alto sax player and bass clarinet player told me (not in so many words, but you know what I mean) to sod off, me sobbing inwardly at the reminder that I wasn’t liked too much.
Looking back, I understand that being someone with a high-functioning form of autism, I was too weirdly different for my peers to tolerate and be around with any more than they had to. They were forced to interact with me at school and in the band but when it came to the Happiest Place On Earth I’m sure that they saw being there as a sort of vacation from me and how I was, which due to the difference in how my brain was/is wired I simply could not help.
That was no excuse for those guys doing what they did to me, however; I don’t care how dorky someone seems to be, no one deserves to be treated the way I was at Disneyland – or anywhere else for that matter.
For ANY reason.
Main Street in Disneyland, including the very arcade where I was ditched, dumped, and humiliated by some of my high school band mates two years running on the right. Photo courtesy of dreamstime.com
FAST FORWARDING A FEW PAGES TO ANOTHER EXCERPT, WHICH DESCRIBES WHAT HAPPENED TO ME AT DISNEYLAND A YEAR LATER…
It was after our performance, when we changed back into our band shirts and jeans on the buses and headed back into the park, when the ultimate deja-vu came to pass and the proof of at least this aspie – I can’t speak for others with Asperger’s – having a tendency to be gullible showing itself in what happened.
I found myself with the same group of trombones and tenor saxes what duped and ditched me at that penny arcade and the previous year. They seemed to welcome me along as we went back to that same arcade on Main Street, asking me to take that same “Man Test” with the same electrical poles on that same Zoltar-like machine.
Like the naive kid on the autistic spectrum that I was, I took the boat and grabbed the poles.
Out of the same corner of my eye as approximately 365 days before, I saw those guys run away, taking a hard left onto a side street. After I gave chase for a few steps I gave up and stood there, once again dumped and duped, feeling al kinds of negative feelings, particularly at the thought that I was such an undesirable to too many of my band mates.
If I were a neurotypical, I would have told them to go fuck themselves and their “Man Test” and walked away.
But that was neither here nor there as at that moment I once again found myself all by my lonesome on that Disneyland thoroughfare; because I so wanted to be accepted as part of a “cool” group like roughly 90% of all teens, I ended up in the same sorry situation as twelve months before.
It was an innate gullibility that led me to be taken advantage of like I was at that penny arcade those two years as I didn’t want to face the fact that those group of guys thought of me as too much of a social undesirable to want to hang with me. For me to think that would have been yet another albatross among the many that I had built up inside of myself not only during my Samo days, but pretty much throughout my life up to that time and afterwards.
I know, those guys who ditched me for two years running at what to me in those days was Dismal-Land had no idea that I was on the Autism Spectrum, and I also know that we were all just immature, non thinking insensitive kids at that time, but even though I (of course) forgive them that doesn’t take away the pain of what I went through as if those incidents had happened ten years before, I would have been crying my eyes out over the hurt that was put upon me at Disneyland.
To be fair, the guys involved in that cruel deceit had no idea of how hurtful they were being, and I’ve only had contact with two of them (there were five) since graduation, so if they read this I’ll bet they would be surprised, if not shocked, at the amount of mental and emotional hurt that I suffered at their hands.
That’s why it’s only right to forgive them.
Flip the gender, add about ten years, and this was me in high school – at least that’s how I felt. Photo courtesy of myaspergerschild.com