Fresh off the triumph of attending The Bunny’s friend’s party without making an ass of myself, I have decided to attempt Xmas dinner with Mine’s family. He had previously invited me to Thanksgiving but I’d chickened out. Social shit plus eating unknown food equals ALL THE STRESS, for me. But I haven’t seen Mine in almost a month, and he invited me to Xmas, and I’d like to see where he lives and meet his family and just generally show that I’m making an effort in this relationship. So:
Me: Is your invite to Xmas dinner still open?
Mine: Of course. Would you come down that night, or before? [Mine lives in a neighbouring city.]
Me: That night, I guess. Can I ask you a thousand anxiety-preparation questions before I definitely say yes?
Mine: Of course. But you have nothing to worry about. They are all very nice people. What do you want to know?
Me: This is at your aunt’s place, you said? How many people? Will there be a fairish number of side dishes without flour in them? Does the bus over there even run on Xmas?
Mine: At my aunt’s. About 14 people including a couple toddlers. I’m sure there will be stuff you can eat, but I will ensure there is. Do you eat turkey?
Me: Yup! If there’s turkey and some veggies without flour-thickened sauces then I should be good.
Mine: All sauces and gravy will be on the side. And the bus doesn’t come all the way over here on Christmas, only as far as [city]. But I’ll pick you up there.
Me: Should I bring something? People who get invited to dinner often bring wine or something, right? Will you be crashing at your aunt’s after, or going home?
Mine: You don’t have to bring anything. Most of my family doesn’t drink. And I’ll be going home – she lives five minutes away.
Me: I could stay over with you, if you wanted.
Mine: I assumed you would be. You can stay as long as you like.
Me: Okay then. We’re on. I’m excited to meet your family!
Mine: They want to meet you, too. I have to warn you, we’ll probably play boardgames and say grace before eating.
Me: Which board games do you usually play?*
Mine: A couple different ones. Recently it’s been one called Catchphrase.
Me: Ooooh! That sounds promising. I like word games and I’m guessing that’s one.
Mine: It is.
Mine: A couple other things you should know: it’s colder here than where you are, so bring warm clothes. And good shoes if you want to take the dog out for a walk with me.
Me: I didn’t even think of the temperature thing. Thanks!
Mine: I guess you should know that one of my cousins has Aspergers, and another has cerebral palsy.
Me: I’ll brace myself for possible blunt and/or slurred speech**.
Mine: [Name]. the one with Asperger’s, probably won’t say more than hi. [Name[ has CP and will talk your ear off.
Me: My social anxiety partly manifests itself in me not being able to understand someone AT ALL if they talk in any way different from a clear midwestern US-type accent. Soooooooo we’ll see how it goes. If I have a chance to hang back and get acclimated I do better. That’s what saved me at The Bunny’s thing. I spent the first 20 minutes just watching everyone interact, focusing on my breathing and trying to memorize faces and names.
Mine: That’s fine. We’ll just grab a spot on the couch, and I’ll keep the conversation flowing. Don’t worry about a thing. They’re all very nice and accepting.
Me: Considering how wonderfully you turned out, I absolutely believe this. ❤
I’ve read a lot of advice columns where someone with a disability or mental illness or disorder of some kind expresses angst about their dateability. The columnist always acts like if someone really likes you they’ll happily accommodate your weird shit, rather than dropping you to go find someone they like who doesn’t have a big massive down side. It’s like, “Pffft, everyone has their weird stuff. That’s just life. A grounded, stable, reasonable person will realize that there’s no such thing as a perfect human being, ergo there’s no point in bailing on you to look for one, ergo the two of you will live happily ever after.”
Yeeeeeah, everyone has their weird shit. But let’s be honest here – there are different levels of weird, and there are different areas of weird. My area of weird makes it hard for me to go anywhere or hang out with people, and for a lot of people that probably presents a fairly large impediment to a relationship and they’d rather be with some chick who’s, like, allergic to mohair and secretly racist but able to go to parties without freaking out.
So far though it seems like Mine is willing to accommodate me. And in my defense I’m easier to deal with than I used to be because I know what I need way more than I used to. I’ve identified my feelings and behavioural patterns and mostly have workarounds for them. So there’s that.
*Even this is a source of anxiety for me; my parents never had Monopoly or checkers around when I was growing up, and I can never get the hang of card games, so it’s like all the most common games people play are totally foreign to me.
**I hope I’m not an asshole for saying that. Mention of cerebral palsy made my mind immediately go to Geri Jewell, who was on The Facts of Life back in the day and who has cerebral palsy and it impedes her speech. Maybe it doesn’t impede everyone’s speech. I don’t actually know.