July 7th, 2013
“You know, Cynthia, one thing I’ve noticed about Marcus is he’ll talk to people he likes, but pretty much stays away from people he doesn’t like.” Jennie looked down the row of coffee drinkers and dropped her voice a few db’s. “I mean Carlo’s an asshole, but Marcus won’t even nod in his direction.”
Cynthia indicated the front door which Carlo was exiting that very moment. Jennie sighed, relieved. Cynthia had her cards to play, too. “I think you just nailed it, Jennie. That’s the way he is. It’s because of his Asperger’s Syndrome.” Cynthia pulled out her smart phone. “I made a few notes,” she said. “He winks a lot. Asperger’s. I thought he was just trying to pick up girls. And you notice how he always has to have a pencil in his hand? It’s from motor-instinct distribution destabilizing objectives.” Suddenly, Paul was at Cynthia’s elbow. “Oh, you know somebody who’s showing MIDDO, do you?” Jennie pushed her stool back a few inches and frowned. Cynthia shot her a cool it expression. “Jennie, MIDDO means Motor-Instinct Distribution Destabilizing Objectives.” “That’s the real test of Asperger’s,” said Paul. “My partner’s writing a paper on BOBuR — that’s the Build or Bust reflex. Any BOBuR under 1.65 seconds indicates the Asperger’s has probably exceeded the terms set out by the Pig Latin Asperger’s Nonsense.” Jennie had had enough. “Oh, I get it. Ha ha. Another lovely acronym. PLAN.” she sneered. Paul held his hands out, palms facing Jennie. “No, no. It sounds crazy,” he said, “but to test language skills, Asperger patients are led through the Pig Latin Asperger’s Nonsense game by their therapists. PLAN is how professionals remember that Pig Latin challenges the chromo subset of Asperger’s, and they simply stuck the word “Nonsense” in to let the Asperger’s sufferer know it’s all in fun.”
In just minutes, Jennie was back in the fold. The three of them all had another cafe au lait and a few laughs. Then for the next half hour a fly on the wall would have heard the three make these, among many other, observations: “My friend David was diagnosed when, in five consecutive games of chess, he failed to castle when it clearly would have improved his shot at winning by 35%. In each and every instance. Not that I know anything about chess. Ha ha.” “Galindie, my second cousin, moves her lips in foreign movies, not when there are subtitles, but when the lines are dubbed.” “Oh no, look at this wino coming in. Is that Asperger’s or is he just fucked up?” “I’ll tell you this, I’m not doing any more crosswords until they figure out the difference between Asperger’s and Autism.”
And it was Autism, only thirty years ago, that trumped all the neurological disorders of the day. Anybody suspected of not having his five year-old tested for Autism was brought in for child abuse.
There’s only one other disease needed to complete the Triple A’s — Alzheimers. Any seventy year old can tell you there are days when they can’t remember any words beginning with the letter “m”. That does not mean you need to call the brain wagon, kids.
But I do want to mention one other disease. In 1985, Kurt Waldheim neglected to include in his autobiography his role in the killings in Kozara. Prisoners were killed by his fellow Nazis within earshot of his office. In the hearings for U.N. Secretary General, Waldheim denied any knowledge of those events in Yugoslavia. All this was very much in the news and one day I was on the road with my friend Chris Pray, an improviser with the National Theater of the Deranged. Taking the role of a newsman, he reported on the illness that was screwing up the works at the hearings — “Waldheimers Disease.”
And that’s enough disease for today.