Thursday, 18 September 2008

I have my eye on you

One thing about me is that I'm quite a people watcher. I know lots of people are, so this is one of those things that I'm unsure is connected with my Asperger Syndrome (AS) or not. However I'm quite sure that there is an AS aspect to people watching - having AS means you have to learn social interaction instead of it coming naturally, and how better to learn than to observe?

So despite my rabid asocial nature, I'm actually quite fond of going to the pub (but only occasionally). Pubs can be problematic as they're not really geared up for non-social activity. Any woman in a pub on her own is beset with all manner of unwanted male attention; sharks circling in the menstrual blood. Any man in a pub on his own…well, he's just a weirdo, and I'm also not the kind of person who can just sit and do nothing. These two things mean that the only pubs I'll go to are ones with pool tables. This gives me something to watch, and an excuse to watch. Not just the game but the people playing the game, and not just them but everyone in the pub. I don't know why, but I feel I can stand in a pub watching pool as others might think I'm just awaiting a game. If a pub doesn't have a pool table I won't go there.

Not being particularly posh or well bred I'm not one for wine bars and pubs with dress codes, so I've always been drawn to the kind of pubs that have pool tables anyway; ones with terrible torn carpets and gaffer-taped benches. Looking back to when the social aspects of my AS were really taking hold, it doesn't surprise me that all of my haunts had pool tables. I used to think it was maybe a coincidence, but now I know it was just a sub-conscious decision. When you're living in a bedsit on an incredibly low income in a town where you don't know anyone, there isn't much to do at the weekend. So I spent mine in pubs, watching other people play pool and interact. Young people, old people, single people on the pull, single people on the defensive…I'd watch them all.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm not one for small talk or pub talk, I find it cliché and tiresome. So I'm not that keen when people see the loner and try to strike up a conversation. Depending on who they are I might indulge them for a while, but it often has me leave after I've finished my drink as I don't want to get into that situation where I awkwardly drop the conversation ball. This is one aspect of my AS where I've thrown the towel in. When I was pre-diagnosed a part of me wanted someone to talk to me or strike something up. Part of me thought that was how I could instigate a friendship. Post diagnosis I now realise that I'll never be good at these things and will never strike up friendships in this way…so why bother?

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