Welcome to Ad Vice, a section of Angry Autie that looks at potential lessons that autism has to offer to humanity. Autism introduces an entirely new state of being and I think that you normals could learn a thing or two from it. In addition, the way y’all have handled it says something about you. I shall be exploring that here.
As an ‘abnormal,’ I’m of the mind that this ideal of the ‘normal’ is what I’ve been railing against on this blog since its inception. In fact, I’ve created this blog so that I can lash out at the intangible, to lash out at what few see as a problem and to put into a different light what many see as a problem. But isn’t that what writers are for? Normalcy is something that disturbs me so it’ll probably become the main theme of “Ad Vice,” dealt with in small chunks.
We have this strange idea that’s been around since the Renaissance that there’s a certain way to act and that there’s a certain way that things should be. Since some of us auties can’t sit still and since some of us engage in purposeless movement (like flapping hands); it’s considered unusual behavior and therefore they should calm the fuck down and, according to neurotypical logic, just be civilized human beings. But we’re not hurting anybody with our purposeless movements so why do you care?
“But that hand-flapping looks weird and that bothers me.” Well, I’m afraid I can’t help you there, dear hypothetical questioner. If a person flapping their hands – something completely irrelevant to your existence – bothers you, I’d say you’re the one with issues, provided that the hands are not flapping towards your face or your balls. I’ve lived in New York City for a long time so I’ve seen people do stranger things than flap their hands. I once saw a guy, reasonably well dressed, pulling grass out of the roots and shoving it into his mouth – the grass may have been fake but I didn’t have time to check because he ate it all. Yet we don’t have a name for a condition in which people pull up fake grass and eat it, except maybe “delusional herbivore,” which I anticipate being in the DSM-VI, given the strange direction it’s now going.
One mark of normalcy with which I must have some sort of unhealthy S&M relationship is etiquette. I grew up with a mother and a stepmother who, by my standards, are both very conservative deep down and consider manners to be of the utmost importance in personal conduct so I grew up thinking that I had to conduct myself a certain way. I think that the biggest issue with etiquette is that it not only has the most arbitrary standards but also that it’s basically a desperate attempt to conceal what we think to be ugly about ourselves. We won’t ‘let it all hang out’ so to speak. We’re not allowed to talk about certain things, we’re not allowed to fart or perform –or even talk about – other bodily functions, and, one of the most ridiculous, women have to say ‘powder room’ instead of ‘shit hole’ even though they refer to the exact same thing. No, we have to convince ourselves and everyone else that we are civilized, godly people who have no anuses. But the problem is, if you have no anus, then you’ll end up being full of shit. Your anus keeps you humble. It helps rid you of your shit. Cherish your anus.
The fact that etiquette is so different all over the world is enough to render it contradictory and useless in my mind. For example, an American may consider slurping one’s soup impolite because it sounds disgusting or whatever while a Chinese may consider slurping one’s soup not only polite but also a genuine compliment because it indicates that you’re enjoying the soup (by the way, the latter makes so much more sense to me but I can’t do that in this house). In Egypt, the origin of half my genetic makeup, it is not considered necessarily homosexual for men who are good friends to hold hands while walking down the street. In America, men holding hands are most likely homosexual and that will turn some heads in some parts. To think that etiquette means something is to potentially open yourself up to huge cognitive dissonance unless you never leave your region or never expose yourself to radically different cultures. For reassurance, I like to imagine how the people who taught me etiquette would fare in a totally different culture.
Since I grew up with it, etiquette was one lens I used for understanding what normalcy is and how neurotypicals think. The fact that I was brought up to be a goody-goody two-shoes has created some cognitive dissonance from the beginning.
Why the hell am I talking about etiquette in a diatribe against normalcy? you might be asking yourself. Fair question. The way I see it, normalcy is about standards to which one should aspire and so is etiquette. Like normalcy by virtue of its existence, etiquette places a lot of emphasis on the should and not the is. Etiquette blindly assumes that the is is potentially dangerous. Etiquette assumes that we are essentially nasty and we need to be restrained. As cynical as I am, I think that people are better than that and we shift to this mindset in times of uncertainty, like nowadays. But if we are essentially nasty, civilization would be an impossibility because we’d be constantly mistrusting of others. It takes a team to build a city. Rome was neither built in a day, nor built by one guy. We can’t build a city if no one trusts each other. I believe that the idea that humans are essentially animals breeds neuroticism, something that I’ll back up in a future post.
So instead of talking out of your anus, learn from your anus.