Before I continue with the story of Michael, the hair-fondling MRA, let us be clear about at least one thing: You cannot diagnose yourself with Asperger’s. Not even if you have a BA in psychology.
But that happened after the first night of his visit, when he not only made some questionable remarks about the way most “young, Western women” paid their rent, but then cuddled up to me and whispered “I love you.” I feigned a soft snore while the voice of reason screamed, “NOPE. NONONONONONONO.”
I had a school-related commitment the next day, and for my own sanity, I decided I should leave at 7 a.m. Michael would have to fill his time somehow.
He protested this early departure just a little bit.
“Couldn’t you leave me a spare key? I don’t know what I’m going to do this early.”
“Nope. Don’t have one. It’s New York City. You’ll find something.”
So we climbed the stairs to the J train and as he started following me onto the Queens-bound track, I caught him.
“You want that train. That one goes into Manhattan. I’m going further into Brooklyn.”
Admittedly, I could have taken the J into Manhattan and switched at Fulton Street for the 2 or the 5, but I needed my space, my quiet time, my time. In recent years, I have become a morning person, if only for the fact that I can catch an hour, or two or three, of uninterrupted, meditative “me time” before anyone else thinks of rolling out of bed after smacking the snooze button for the 16th time. Michael himself professed to be a morning person, so he didn’t mind the wake-up time. He balked at the apparent lack of “stuff to do” first thing in the morning.
“Go to the Met. It’s free.”
And I ran for the hills. “The hills” meaning Flatbush, where I spent the day pulling cables, lugging heavy equipment, and getting dirty while distancing myself from the little voice inside my head screaming, “OH MY GOD, WHAT HAS MY LIFE BECOME?”
After 6 or 7 hours of manual labor, I plopped myself onto a campus green and shared a joint with three good female friends. They let me whine about Michael and the monster he was becoming before we moved onto more interesting subjects, like armed robbery and our thesis productions.
I later jotted down in a journal, “These are exactly the kind of people I need in my life,” which I mention here as a stark contrast to exactly the kind of people I do not need in my life.
Cut to: Barnes & Noble in Union Square, where I met Michael later that afternoon because he didn’t bring a cell phone for some reason and was unwilling to cross the bridge back into Brooklyn without a traveling companion for safety. (Yes, really.)
En route to his twin holy temples, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, we began to have what I thought might actually be a normal conversation about our parents.
Nope. No such luck. His mother was a whore, he said. To be fair, his father didn’t sound like such a stand-up guy, either, but I heard no sexual slurs applied against the paternal half of his lineage. He said he’d been raised by his grandparents and that was why he was so afraid of aging. Oh, and by the way, his mother was a whore.
“Well, that’s… unfortunate. I mean, people make mistakes. That’s life.” I couldn’t think of anything else to say, and I was coming down from my earlier pleasant high – fast.
“You know, your mother sounds like kind of a whore, too.”
I stopped and fixed him with an icy glare. “You are not allowed to talk shit about my parents.”
“What? I’m just being honest. I can’t help it if I’m blunt. I’m an Aspie.”
“Is that an official diagnosis?”
“I don’t need one. I have a bachelor’s in psychology.”
“Right. You go buy your stupid nuts. I’ll be next door.” I indicated a wine shop. “Then we’re going to a bodega or something when we get back to Brooklyn. I need stuff for guacamole.”
“Why don’t you just get it from Whole Foods?”
“Because it’s Whole Foods. And I’m in grad school.”
“But it’s so much better for you!”
I briefly considered the absurdity of spending an extra $6 on organic avocados and walked into the wine shop without further comment.
The train ride back to Bushwick gave him ample opportunity to yammer on about all matter of objectionable opinions while I tuned him out the best I could. As I picked through the produce at Mr. Kiwi, he rambled on about how rad it would be to be a developer so he could buy up all the old buildings in the area and jack up the rent for young hipsters gentrifying the area.
“Wow. I’m surprised nobody’s thought of that before.”
“I know, right?” he said, without the slightest hint of irony.
We got home and I opened a bottle of red wine into a coffee mug before putting away my groceries.
“Don’t you want to… ?” he suggested, cocking his head none too subtly in the direction of my bedroom. I caught his drift, but pretended not to.
“Want to what?” I took a deep gulp of two-buck chuck, well aware of his opinions about alcohol.
“I guess we’ll make love sometime when you haven’t been drinking.”
I finished off the bottle that night. I did not fully sober up until after I walked him to the PATH train on Saturday afternoon.