A neurobiological dilemma

I had to tell myself “Stop Thinking about the Story” while I was running today. Actually, I had to tell myself TWICE because I was writing a chapter in my forthcoming book. Yeah, that’s all you need: Terry’s thoughts printed and bound. Well, it’s going to happen. I just have to figure this whole writing thing out. Grammar Rock can only take me so far.

So on with the regularly scheduled blog entry.

So, I am running today at lunch (there’s the running reference) and I am approaching the intersection of Volunteer and Lake Loudon Drive, a mere 0.3 miles into my 5 mile run. I notice two golf-cart vehicles in the turn lane waiting for the left signal onto Volunteer Blvd. In the front vehicle are 2 girls, in the second vehicle are 2 boys. The boys were being obnoxious and honking the golf-cart horn seeming at the chagrin of the girls. The girls were apparently either a little embarrassed at the attention they were receiving from the horn honking or this was their first time one of the golf cart out on the road. It’s not like the golfcart things are uncommon on campus, the Sports Department lives on them. After all, why would you want to walk or run from athletic facility to athletic facility, when you could sport around in a nice golf cart. Just ask any one who is 65yo or older and lives in Florida.

So as I am approaching the corner to turn onto Lake Loudon and go down the hill, I look at the girls in the first cart as my scan of the intersection was finishing (to avoid oncoming traffic) when the passenger girl says, “Hiiiii.”

Here’s what I wished had happened:
“Hiiiii,” says the passenger girl. I raise my hand in a greeting gesture look her way and compliment her on the fine set of wheels she has to take her around campus.

Nice Wheels there,” I would say in a semi-playful yet sarcastic tone. Had there been more time, I would have added “Speed Limit is 25mph on campus, don’t get a ticket.”

But what really happened was that my Asperger’s over powered my desire for witty banter and caused me to temporary shutdown. Thankfully, I had already initiated a hand wave, or else I would have looked like an elitest prick as I looked at them, acknowledging their existence and not saying anything and blowing them off. When, in reality… it’s nice to have someone not yell obscenities at you while you are running.

The wave that I started was followed with a feeble “Hey” and as soon as the girl started to say “Hiiiii”, I looked away as quickly as I could to focus on the back of a student in the distance. I could not make eye contact with her and say “hey” at the same time.

I went on to think that this happens to me all the time. I will make eye contact on my own terms, typically, when someone is not looking at me. Now that I know that I have Aspergers and that avoiding eye contact is something that is wired in my brain, I have to remember to make an effort for eye contact. Now, I do have 30+ years of making conversation (sometimes one-sided) so there has been somethings that I learned. But I still feel that I might be staring to hard and giving the “He’s too creepy” vibe or that I am staring and giving the “Hey, Baby…” look or that I am not looking in them eyes and giving them the “I’d rather be somewhere else” feeling.

One thing that I am experimenting with is to stare away on purpose and pretend that I am trying to think of something or performing second derivatives in my mind. [Ed. I typically do not perform second derivatives in my head, but first derivatives are fair game] This way, I can get the calmness of not looking at someone in the eyes without seeming to “pleasantly eccentric”

About planet3rry

I'm a husband, father and runner in the Knoxville area. I love the way that running makes me feel and how it has changed my thinking. I am always looking for the new PR whether in the 5k or the marathon