Autism with a second side of… something

I was having a rather dull dinner with my mom and her friends in a restaurant I’d never been to before. As we sit down, my mom points out that they have “mozzarella sticks” here (because I apparently can’t read menus on my own) and how terrible the ones we had the night before were.

As I’m looking over the underwhelming menu, a harried waitress comes up from one side of the table and a woman I’d never seen before comes up the other: “Oh, hi, Liz.” “Linda, hi, wonder seeing you here, how are…”

JONATHAN,” my mom’s friend Barb shouted to get my attention and successfully scaring the living crap out of me. “YOUR turn to order!”

“JONATHAN,” my mom snapped at me for dropping my phone on the table. “That is completely unnecessary! Just tell her what you want to drink and be done with it.”

So, now, I’ve got my mom, her friends, the waitress and half the restaurant staring at me. No pressure.

“We’s got Coke, Diet Coke, Ginga-hale…”

“Water,” I replied only hearing the first three.

“All this shit,” my mom said exasperatedly, “and you’re ordering WATER? Jesus-fucking-God. Anyway, Linda, did you hear about…”

“What ’bout you, ma’am?”

“Um, water with lemon… Wait, Jonathan, you said wanted the mozzarella sticks.”

“Um, no, you asked me about them.”

“So, he wan’s the mozza sticks,” the waitress asked from three tables away.

“No”

“JONATHAN, do you want the mozzarella sticks or not?”

“NO”

“Yes, he does. Thank you.”

Wait, WHAT? I literally just said “no” three times.

“Okay, I’ll put d’em in with ya order.”

A few minutes later, she returns with Barb’s soda, my water and my mom’s water with lemon, and immediately proceeds to take our orders. It’s now, 45 seconds before I’m expected to make my order, that Barb points out that there is a “special board” behind me that I missed before I sat down. Mom is still talking to that lady so, congratulations, it’s bumped up to about 35 seconds.

“Honey dipt [sic] chicken with fries”

“Fries, coleslaw, side salad, apple sauce, corn, lima beans…”

“I said ‘fries.’”

“I know d’at, but ya need a SECOND side.”

“Why? I don’t need a ‘second side.’”

“Ya meal comes wit a second side.”

“And I’m telling you, I don’t want a ‘second side.’”

Why is this so hard to understand?

“So, ya want TWO plates of fries?”

“No, I want one plate of fries. I’m telling you I don’t wa-”

“Give him apple sauce and be done with it.”

“And you ma’am?”

“Um, yeah… I’ll have… um, I’ll have… whatever he’s having, but with lima beans instead of apple sauce.”

Then Barb starts on some meandering story about a feud she was having with one of her neighbors who had allegedly called cops the on her “out of spite – TWICE.” The kind of story that was extremely hard to follow unless you knew what was going on (who they were, what happened and how did it escalate so far). She gets about 2/3 of the way through her story when the waitress unceremoniously plops a plate of bland looking mozzarella sticks in front of me.

“Here ya go, buddy. Enjoy.”

What the fuck is this? When I order it? What am I supposed to do with them, and, more importantly, who the fuck is “buddy?”

“Jonathan,” my mom asked. “What the hell is wrong with you? Why aren’t you eating the mozzarella sticks you ordered?”

“I didn’t order them.”

“Yes, you did.”

“No, I didn’t. I didn’t want them, and I still don’t.”

“Then why the hell did you order them?”

“I DIDN’T. YOU did because YOU wanted to know if they were ‘any better than the ones we had last night.’”

“Oh, for God’s sake, just eat the damned things.”

So, basically, I’m now forced to eat bland mozzarella sticks I don’t want and didn’t order because I did order them and do want to eat them solely to satiate my mother’s mild curiosity. Neuro-typical logic at it’s finest, folks.

After a long tangent about how much money she’s make “inventing a phone [cord] that don’t get all tangled like the ones we got at work” (man, she’ll be disappointed to find out cordless phones have been around since at least 2001 – if not earlier), she finally gets back to repeating the second half of her story for us. I still have no idea what’s going on other than this neighbor lady is (allegedly) “psycho” or something, and worse, nothing was going on on Facebook or Messenger and I had zero new e-mails.

An excruciatingly long time later, the waitress returns and once again plops our food down with the enthusiasm of an abnormally excited rock. Barb got the fish with corn. My mom got fried chicken with fries and lima beans, and I got fried chicken with fries…and a humongous bowl of apple sauce.

Once again, I have no clue who’s eating it, but, my god, that’s a LOT of apple sauce. Meanwhile, the lukewarm fries were undercooked, but the chicken was actually pretty good.

By the time we were ready to leave, it was already 7pm. Mom wanted to get some ice cream t Mauer’s a few blocks away on Market Street, but one of the ladies loitering on the porch of the building next door rather curtly informed me was “closed” (no details, just “closed”). In the car, I made the mistake of asking what Barb’s rambling neighbor story was about.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” my mom replied.

“What was Barb’s problem with her neighbor and the police coming to her house?”

“Who’s house? What neighbor? Who’s calling the police for what? I have no clue what you’re asking.”

“Augh, that’s what I just asked YOU. Essentially, you want me to know the answers to the questions I just asked you so you can repeat the answers back to me in which case I wouldn’t need to ask them to you in the first place”

“Jesus-fucking-Christ, Jonathan, what the fuck are you talking about? God, ‘houses,’ ‘neighbors,’ ‘police?’ I have no clue what the hell you’re even talking about?”

“What the hell was Barb talking about in her long rambling story about having her neighbor call the police on her twice in the past week?”

“Thank you, Jesus, THAT I understood. It wasn’t a ‘neighbor,’ she was renting a property she owned out as apartments, and the current tenant was three months behind in her rent so Barb was forced to evict her, but she refused to leave so…”

Bo ring. See? I knew asking was a mistake.

Now that I’ve “stressed [her] out,” she decides to go to Weis to pick up a gallon box of ice cream leaving me in the car as she shops. It’s not much, but it’s a break…

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Categories: adventures, Autism, coal region, family, Pennsylvania, sensory processing disorder | Leave a comment

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