To the outside world we just look like an average couple eating out at brunch time on a Sunday. However if you knew the routines and rituals involved it might make you chuckle, it does me. We usually go to the same place on the same day each week, at roughly the same time. We occasionally go somewhere different but we have a ‘place’ often for about six months (until they do something we don’t like more than twice in a row). I can’t order until I have read the entire menu, and worked out what is the best value meal that still contains all the items I want and no items I don’t like. I find it difficult to read when there is background noise, so I often stand in the middle of the café, staring at the board, with my fingers in my ears for quite a while. My partner doesn’t have this problem, he always orders exactly the same thing, every time, wherever we go.
I can’t start my breakfast until my toast has arrived, because I have to eat my food in a particular order and the first thing I eat is my toast dipped in my egg. A major annoyance for me is the fact that despite it being the fastest thing to prepare out of my breakfast, it is usually the last thing they bring out and is most likely to be forgotten, leaving me sitting quietly looking at my plate of food. Whilst I have to have the bit I’m eating closest to me, my partner can’t move or rotate the plate from the position in which the server sets it down, but he always eats his toast last, using it to make an egg and salt sandwich (there’s so much salt it forms a layer and qualifies as a separate ingredient).
I can only eat things one food at a time, I don’t mix and match, and I don’t have a bit of one thing and then a bit of something else. I don’t move on until I have eaten that first thing in its entirety. My partner can only eat things in particular ratios that together on the fork ‘feel’ right to him, so if a breakfast comes with too many mushrooms or not enough bacon, bits of other foods will be left at the end of the meal to address the balance. Whereas I can’t leave food, even if I am full or I don’t really like it; I hate waste.
I can’t bear anything that is supposed to be crunchy (toast, chips, bacon) touching anything wet (beans, tomatoes, mushrooms). Crunch is my favourite texture and is to be prized and preserved. My partner can’t chew baked beans, instead he swallows them whole, hence he has an aversion to beans that are too dry. In contrast he likes his scrambled eggs done as hard as you like, so that they are not remotely ‘snotty’ (his words) or creamy.
Don’t get me started on finding the right seat, we both like to be against walls or in corners, and are often drawn to the same chair, which somehow also ‘feels’ right. Then we have to reach a compromise, but he’s a gent and usually lets me have it (either a gent, or a very smart man who knows how to make his own life easier!). We then have to be out of direct sunlight, and away from reflective surfaces that manage to transmit sunlight into our photophobic eyes. We have changed tables mid-meal when the sun has come out or moved in the sky.
Interestingly, what makes me laugh the most, is that my partner doesn’t even consider himself to be on the spectrum. Unless of course he can use it to his advantage, “You can’t have a go at me, I can’t help it, it’s my Asperger’s“… and every time he says that, I think of Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers!
© Catastraspie, 2012.