Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Oldies are easier to come by

Before going into this post I wish to explain to any readers who may be wondering why I haven't posted anythnig here for over a week now. Basically I am a very busy man, I have to work 37 hours a week in the office and I've been working hard writing articles for Suite101. So its been quite hard finding the time to post anything here.

Besides I have been to quite a few social events recently, and have had a fantastic weekend. Though I am very analytical it's often hard to know how to explain everything and sometimes I don't have the time.

However, at an organised social I went to at the weekend, I got into a very interesting conversation with a few other 20 somethings. Basically, they were saying that it can be very difficult in your 20s to meet new people of a similar age. That's in the case of someone who is not in college or university, and has with few friends in their area, either they're new to the area or their friends have all moved away or married off etc.

One girl was saying that, whilst people may think the way to find friends is to join a club i.e. a sports club or hobby group, the same problem arises, everyone is much older. It was really intersting for me to hear this as it was the very thing I discovered about seven years ago, at a time when I was desparate to make friends of my age.

The thing is it appears that the oldies are easier to come by because they're more likely to belong to organised clubs. The 20 somethings will tend to hang around the pubs and clubs more, and whilst it is possible to meet new people there, that is very difficult if you go in on your own and try to start a social life from scratch there - you need to be part of a core group of friends to begin with.

The once people marry and have children, usually in the 30s, they become very busy becoming tied down with family commitments, unable to go out much, either to organised clubs and societies or out to pubs and clubs, and in any case such people are unlikely to have the time to build up new quality friendships.

It's only when people reach about 45 when they get to the empty nester stage of life do they find they have more time and may be inclinded to join a club of some sort - hence why oldies are easier to come by.

Now so no-one misunderstands, I have a very good relationship with many people much older than me. I have served on the committee of my local branch of the UK Independence Party for many years where everyone else is in their 50s, 60s and 70s. And I'd encourage all young people to integrate with older people.

However, when you are in your 20s and the only people you ever get to meet are much older than you, you do have a big problem, because as nice and kind-hearted as many older people are, there are some things they cannot offer which someone you're own age can. There is no scope for a relationship with older people, and interaction is usually not quite on the same wavelength.

This is a problem we all need to be aware of, whatever types of circles we mix in.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Time for a Laugh: Marrying an Oldie

I have always been someone who has not normally understood jokes. They're often too complicated, or require knowledge of something that I'm not familiar with, or I simply find I cannot connect the dots of a joke quickly enough. I have got used to simply being a bit out of it in more jokey conversation settings, not quite fitting in, though I often try. It's All Too Fast and It's Too Complicated!

However, I do have a sense of humour, but it is probably not apparent to most people I know because it is not the type of humour that I can slip into a conversation easily. Rather it has to be explained properly, and requires a platform for me to explain it, and it's a platform that is rarely given to me. Hence, I have to create a platform for myself to share my funnier side - here on this blog! So here goes with my first piece of humour, please have some patience as you read through this scenario.

Dating an Oldie

When my grandmother was alive she would often ask me, when I was in my 20s, if I had a girlfriend. My answer was always no. I've never been in a relationship to this day. Now my grandmother was in her 80s by this time and was becoming increasingly out of touch mentally. Now suppose she had become just a little bit more out of touch than she was, she might have suggested I'd date her 70 something year old friend Anthea, who had been a spinster all her life, thinking that, being younger than herself, Anthea was still a young lady.

Anthea was a good friend of my grandmother's. She probably did something to help my grandmother feel younger, as Anthea's mother Winifred was still alive. I only met Winifred once in around September 2001 when I accompanied my grandmother, Anthea and Winifred to visit a care home for Winifred, as being 96 and on two walking sticks she was now needing more care than Anthea could provide for her. Winifred stayed in a care home until she eventually died in January 2006 aged 101, who my this time had been bedridden for months, unable to speak, hear or eat.

Now lets just imagine I was so desperate that I ended up going out with Anthea, say in 2003 when I was 21 and she would have been at least 71. I would be accompanying Anthea and my grandmother to visits to Winifred's rest home. Now lets suppose that Winifred, as Anthea's mother, started giving Anthea a few relatiosnhips tips, sometimes from her rest bed (she would still have been speaking OK in 2003/4), I might if I was mad enough decide that I might as well dump Anthea for her 99 year old mother Winifred. After all, if Winifred is unattached (she'd been widdowed since 1971 I think) and knows better than Anthea how to handle a relationship, why not then just start dating the expert!

The Wedding

Imagine the reaction from my family, me being in my early 20s dating a woman in her late 90s! In such circumstances they might think I should get back with Anthea again. Very soon I decided it's time to propose to Winifred and get a wedding date arranged fast! So lets suppose we arrange a wedding in August 2004. Very few of my friends know who the bride is and everybody arrives a bit confused about the whole affair.

At the wedding the minister requests at the start that people standing beside the isle be prepared to give the bride a hand as "she has a few mobility problems." Now all the congregation are even more confused. The music starts playing and it takes longer than usual for the bride to make her entrance. Eventually though, the bride begins to walk through, extremely slowly with two walking sticks, wobbling considerably, looking like she's about to fall any minute and holding onto any pews or any person beside the isle who she can lean on on the way.

At this point there is great confusion among the congregation. Some people are wondering if this is the bride's grandmother or great-grandmother suffering from dementia, thinking she was the bride getting married. The minister, in trying to calm everyone down and keep a straight face annouces that "I understand that this might not have been the kind of lady you were expecting Christopher Woodward to marry but this lady is the bride."

During vowels, the bride, Winifred aged 99 struggles to hear what is being said and makes a few blunders. Before the start of the photographs, the minister announces that "once we've got into position we must get the photo done as quickly as possible before Winifred has a fall." Winifred sits in a wheelchair during the photo session and gets up only for the individual photos.

I will leave it to your imagination what might be the plans for the first dance, plus the reaction of the local, national and possibly international press towards this wedding, as well as the aftershock effects of all the friends and relatives who only learnt that day that I was marrying a 99 year old. Needless to say this would make a brilliant comedy sketch.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Bumping into a Work Colleague's Daughter by Chance. An Ill-Fated Decision?

I went to another organised social on Saturday July 10. It was altogether, a bitter-sweet affair. I won't go into detail because that will be very complicated, but it was one of those which I went to with a particular agenda in mind. And although I did eventually get to say what I wanted to say, it wasn't in quite the context I was hoping for.

I ended up catching the night bus home to Worthing at just after 12:30am. Having had a disappointing night I was feeling a lot bolder than usual afterwards, and at the bus stop it was fairly quiet but I saw an attractive girl on her own nearby, eating chips. In trying to work out which was the correct bus stop I decided to approach her to see if she knew, and it turned out she was also waiting for the bus to Worthing.

When we got on I asked her if it was OK for me to sit next to her, she said yes. Now this is hard to explain specifically, but my intention was to try to have a bit of fun with her, ask her a few tantalising questions (questioning or commenting on things that are turn-on for me, without her knowing it), and see if I could flirt a bit with her. After all we had half an hour on the bus with no other friends around, it had been a poor night for me, and this kind of opportunity does not come often.

Now it turned out she was on a hen night, and she had a boyfriend, which was a little disappointing, but not really a problem as I was not desperate to go out with her, I was only really interested in talking to her that night. However, when we talked about work, I discovered that her Mum is one of my colleagues atwork. Oops! I'd already said a few things by that time that I would not have said had I'd known we had any connections - but then again there was absolutely no way I could have guessed!

Nevertheless I was in a bold mood that night, so I carried on chatting to her. She was very tired, she explained she'd been out two nights in a row and had only had three hours sleep last night. As we moved towards Worthing, I tried to gage her reactions a bit and see if I could find an excuse to initiate some physical contact, without making her feel uncomfortable. Nothing sexual or threatening, but hopefully just fun and light-hearted. I did actually manage to find a way into the conversation to do this and make a bit of light physical contact, and she seemed to be OK with it. I suppose I was taking a few risks, but as I said, it had been a poor night for me, I was feeling bold and I am starting to become more of a risk-taker in life generally.

Well it was a bitter-sweet affair, because whilst I enjoyed the time I spent with her on the bus, and I fulfilled a few fantasies (this may sound strange until you realise my fantasies are extremely tame and incidental things, I may talk about this more in a future post), and gained a bit of practice and experience chatting to a girl, my concern now is if she will report any of it back to her mother.

Fortunatly I don't think her mother at work will be one to spread rumours about me. But I feel the need to be able to explain myself if I am asked about this, as her mother may be a little suprised about me. I seriously hope I did not make her feel uncomfortable in any way, I don't think I did though she may just have been very polite, and I don't think I would ever have approached someone in this way if it had been on the way home from work or shopping etc, but after a hen-night its a different matter, a situation where girls may half expect to be approached by men, so I thought I would just try it out.

The best kind of therapy I can find in handling any embarrasing encounter, is to work out specifically why I acted in such a way on a given occassion, and be able to explain myself in as much detail as possible, if it becomes necessary.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

My Grandmother

My maternal grandmother died in January 2008 aged 88. I had a very good relationship with her, especially in her last few years.

I would regularly go and visit her on a Saturday and have a game of scrabble with her. In fact from about September 2006 till the beginning of January 2008 I saw her almost every Saturday.

I've also had the tendency to want to repeat the same conversations, and with my Grandmother that worked so well, because her memory started to go in her last few years, so my repeating the same questions to her helped her memory.

Here's a typcially conversation we had. I would go through a list of her friends, who were her fellow 80 and 90 somethings, many of whom she went to church with.

Christopher   "How's Doris Dearsley doing?"
Grandma       "Oh she's fine"
Christopher   "How's Dr Drown doing?"
Grandma       "She's very good"
Christopher   "Because she sometimes has Doris Dearsley round for dinner"
Grandma       "Yes"
Christopher   "How's Anthea doing?"

and so on. Somehow I found these extremely elderly ladies very interesting. I think it was because they were extremely elderly, infact Dr Drown recently turned 100 and is in a care home (I know this as I remember people's birthdates well and I still have contacts who tell me she's still around.) How I got interested I don't know, as it was my grandmother who first mentioned these people to me. Some of them I'd met, some I hadn't. But I think my Saturday's with grandma really helped me to show an interest in other people, and has been benefical to my social skills today.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Report on an Organised Social on Saturday Night

I went to another organised social on Saturday night. This one was fantastic for me. Although there were a few slightly difficult moments I was very happy throughout the night.

When I entered the pub, I instantly saw a number of people I knew and the first person to say 'Hi' was Maria, who I am particularly fond of. Now my fondness for Maria is not a sexual thing, though she is an attractive lady. To cut a long story short, when I met her at a previous event I found her very interesting, as I thought she was acting rather suggestively towards me, being rather touchy, mouthing the words of the song being played towards me etc, and this is not something I'm used to. On another occasion I managed to get to know her better as a person in a quieter setting, and we had a good conversation and got to know each other better.

Now I went to sit down close to the main circle where people were sitting, just slightly to the edge as there wasn't a space as such. It's hard in any case to join in the conversation, but one thing Maria is very good at is including anyone who may not be interacting much and helping them mix in. So I was very happy. I chatted to several others too, including Martin, a quiet guy, whom I feel I get along with quite easily and is someone whom I feel is on a similar wavelength to me.

There was another group at the other side of the bar, and I found an approriate time to move towards that end and successfully managed in mingle with a number of people, some I knew and some I didn't. It is worth noting that conversations can often revolve around the different events the organisation puts on etc.

One interesting encounter was when I confidently approached one girl and had mistaken her for someone else! (they did look similar) This was quite a good thing, it got her laughing a bit as made a nice ice-breaker.

During the course of the evening I was pleasantly suprised to see a quite a few people I was not expecting to be there. Though it was a good evening there were a few little problems. One is that after a couple of hours of socialising I do get tired, especially in a noisy environment. Sometimes it became hard to even hear what others are saying. Maria was very helpful here. If I ever looked a bit anxious I could just explain that I'm getting tired etc. I haven't told her I have Asperger's yet by  the way.

As the place was becoming very crowded and hot, we decided at one point we would move onto another bar. However the process of deciding to move on and then actually moving on was at least half an hour. I tried to mingle whilst waiting around, and I fear that one lady, who I hadn't met before may have misunderstood me. She said something like "why can't you just enjoy it."

This is one thing I want people to understand. Someone with Asperger's may at times look like they're anxious, not because they're upset or being grumpy etc, but because they're having to concentrate harder than everyone else in the social situation and the fact their concentrating invariably cannot be hidden from on their facial expressions. I tried to explain to the lady that I was tired in some sort of way (didn't say I had asperger's).

At one point I said to Maria, that we needed to find out who was going on and where we were going, so we wouldn't all lose each other. She suggested I tried to round people up to see who was going. I attempted, didn't feel I was doing very well at it, but Maria said "I like it."

In the end a large group of about a dozen of us in total went onto another place. I walked with Maria and a couple of others. Though I was very happy, I often find when people are joking around (as they do when walking from one pub to another) the conversation goes above my head. I do have my sense of humour but it doesn't really fit in with those types of situations.

We arrived at a club by the beach with an outdoor seating area. We initially went into the main club room to buy our drinks. This is not an environment I'm that familiar with, and I was overawed with the crowds and the noise. Maria kept saying to me, in a caring and friendly way "are you alright?" I just explained that there's  lot to digest and she totally understood. Maria told me she worries about everyone in this way.

We sat in the outside area to have our drinks. The others who came along joined us. All in all it was a very nice time. At around 1:00am, Maria's friend really wanted to go home, she didn't like the place, but Maria wanted to stay out until sunrise. Well I was not prepared to stay till sunrise but was not in a rush to go home either, and the idea was for the three of us to share a taxi home, as we all live in the same direction. I think I even may have used a few skills in negotiation that night, in trying to find out exactly what people wanted to do to clarify things and see if we could agree to something. I suggested that we make a compromise by agreeing on a time to leave. Maria eventually decided that she'll "have to be an adult" and go earlier than she'd like.

Maria, her friend and myself all got a taxi home, which was really nice. It was wonderful to feel included in the group. I think I helped to negotiate how we would share the costs of the journey too. All in all a great night out and felt very much on a high afterwards.

Sometimes Hesitation can be Mistaken for Rudeness

Today as I walked into my block of flats coming home from work, two of the other residents (I think) were chatting. I hardly know my neighbours, in my block we don't get to bump into each other much at all. 

Now I have moments when my mind pauses for some reason, and this time I couldn't quite think of the word to excuse myself wakling through, or think to say "thank you." One of the people muttered after I'd gone through "doesn't say thankyou etc. "As I was going up the stairs after I heard that I asked, "sorry what did you" say, and she said it was that I didn't say thank you.

I apologied and explained to her that my mind was pausing, I couldn't quite think of the word, and asked her that she doesn't mistake my mind pausing and not quite thinking of the word for rudeness. She said OK.

Sometime Asperger's people may appear rude when they don't mean to be. It's just that their mind genuinely pauses and they having to take longer to think to say "excuse me" or "thank you" on a given occasion.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Report on an Organised Social on Thursday Night

Last week I went to an social on Thursday night. It was not a brilliant night but had a few redeeming elements to it. It was in a small, rather cramped pub. It had a poor start as when I was on my way looking for the place, I first saw Lucy outside chatting on her mobile, a girl I know who regularly goes to organised socials and has been quite friendly with me in the past. I initially went in and couldn't find anyone I knew so I waited outside for a few minutes till Lucy ended her call and went in. I was a little worried by Lucy's reaction to me when I tried to say "Hi" she asid "Are you following me around?" For some reason she seems to taken a dislike to me, as whenever I tried to chat to her later on she was polite enough but I got the feeling that she didn't really want to chat to me. I was also a little disppointed that the host of the event, Steve, didn't really say hello properly when I entered. I was quite early, only a few turned up before me but the others arrived soon after. But anyway, I found a seat near the corner (not isolated) and an older lady, Marian who I'd never met before arrived and we started chatting.

Having felt rather tense at these things in the past, I tried to relax, not to have too high hopes and be content in whatever situation I was in. I had a fairly good chat with Marian for 10 minutes or so. However once, a few others arrived, including Robert, whom when I had met previously I felt we didn't really get on (he had taken a strong objection to my views on a certain subject and was rather forceful), the conversation turned towards things I couldn't follow, in fact I couldn't even hear too well. Hence (and I did genuinely need it) off to the toilet.

Then once back I joined another table where Lucy and a few others were sitting. I wanted to try chatting to Lucy again. However someone else called Lucy and she went towards the other side, and I was in fact left on my own, so thought "shall I move again?" and decided I would move back closer to where I was before.

Now the next bit I cannot remember too well. But there was one lady at the other side of the room who I had seen before and was keen to chat with (she was quite attractive, and I love to mix and mingle with attractive girls) and found that the seats opposite her were vacant. I didn't want to move chairs at a wrong time, looking like a lost man, but succesfully managed to keep an eye out and plan to move to the vacant seat at the right time and we actually had quite a good chat. She and her friends decided to get another drink and move outside (it was getting very warm indoors) though I am quite sure that this was nothing to do with me, as many were moving outside at this point. That was no priblem with me, I'd said enough for now.

It made total sense for me to move out to the beer garden at that point. And I sat on a table with Lucy and Ryan. Now I was pleasantly suprised about Ryan, as when I'd met him before he seemed like an odd guy, very dry and little rude. But he seemed much more pleasant this time. I noticed how Lucy, whom I mentioned earlier, this time had her head tilted more towads Ryan than me. I little disppointing but in retrospect Lucy and I have nothing much in common, and she's probably figured that out now.