Saturday, February 14, 2009

For me, one of the down-sides of growing up and now living with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (in my case, PDD NOS) has been missing out on some of the coming-of-age events, phases of development and life cycle events that the people around me, the normal people, have experienced. I mean, I have milestones. They have tended to be rather different than those of say, my sister. Compare if you will, the following:

Sister at 13: Flawlessly executed Bat Mitzvah attended by beaming family members and scads of friends

Me at 13: On August 21, 1983, after a two-year stay, released from the National Children’s Rehabilitation Center (now Graydon Manor). This milestone was quickly succeeded by weeks in which I begged to be sent back to the Center, as I came to the conclusion the people were nicer there and the real world sucked big time.

Sister at 16: Went off to the Junior Prom!

Me at 16: Finally kicked the obsessive shoplifting habit!

Sister at 18: Graduated second in her class from High School! Jetted off to the Rice University, the Harvard of the West where she enjoyed a fantastic, storybook, college existence. (Or not. I mean, I never really asked her. I am just assuming.)

Me at 18: Graduated High School! Moved out of the house and started working the midnight shift at Dunkin Donuts! Enrolled in and then flunked out of Community College! Avoided become a pothead or a single mother only because my social skills were still so pathetic that even the potheads did not want to hang out with me and not too many men wanted to sleep with me.

So yeah, I missed out a bit. Every so often, I go through phases where I mourn over what I lost. I moon about, feeling all sorry for myself. When talking to friends, at random intervals, and without any connection to anything we are actually talking about, I will spout some melodramatic drivel about how they experienced x, y or z and that I did not. Because of the PDD-NOS. And how now I will never, never, ever experience it because My Youth Was Wasted on Mental Illness. That Ship Has Sailed. I am forever deprived. And then I sigh. Loudly.

Anyway, now that I too am one of the normal people and everything, I have decided that the time has come to stop my whining and take matters into my own hands. Missed Opportunities? Hello! Is that not what a midlife crisis is for? To relive and improve upon one’s now vanished (and probably misspent) youth? Hell yes! If a 40 year old man with a combover and a potbelly can go out and buy himself a muscle car and a trophy wife so he can make up for being a loser in High School, is it not just and right that I should also be able to make up for some of my own lost time? Of course it does! Accordingly, I decided to ditch my mature, responsible, thoughtful nature and become what, in a normal, non-PDD NOS existence, I would have been 20 years ago.

A slut.

Alright, not really a slut. Just sort of. You know what I am talking about, right? You go off to college, go to frat parties or a pub, get drunk and have random sex with some guy or some girl you met at the party or one that you knew before and kinda had a crush on and were too shy to do anything about it but, hey, now you are drunk! The next morning, you wake up and shriek (or groan, if you are a guy) “Oh my GOD! I cannot believe I slept with him/her! Man! I was, like, SOOO drunk!” At this point, your friends, will nod vociferously and agree that , Man, you were, like, SOOO drunk. The next week, you do the same thing over again.

I completely, totally missed out on this part of the college experience. By the time I finally went to college, I was 22. I still had no social skills to speak of, and to top it off I had become a sanctimonious bore. I had been on my own for four years, was working my way through school and considered myself to be far more mature and serious than my fellow students who were (clearly) all spoiled and immature and unappreciative of how lucky they were to have everything handed to them on a silver platter. Unless you count Rabbi Eliezer Sneiderman and his wife Ronnie Sarah of the University of Delaware Chabad House, I had virtually no friends. And if the truth be told, the Sneidermans were probably nice to me more out of a sense of religious obligation than actually enjoying my company. Given this, that and the other, frat parties and drinking games and nights of wild abandon were in rather short supply.

But that was then, and this is now. I am normal now and gosh darn it— I want my wild and crazy Animal House experience! The only question left how to achieve it. Midlife crisis or no, I simply cannot see myself crashing a frat party at this point in my life. (I am old enough to be the mother of an 18 year old; the thought of shacking up with one simply does not do it for me). For guidance, I decided to hit up my friend Ellie. Ellie is NOT a slut. However, not only did Ellie live in Manhattan for many years, she also owns at least one pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes—the same type of shoes favored by the women of Sex and The City. In my eyes, these two factors are enough to qualify Ellie as A Woman of the World. Over breakfast a few weeks ago, I shared my dream with Ellie. To reclaim my lost youth and to live the wild life I should have had in my 20’s.

Ellie: You want to be a what?

Me: A slut. You know. Wild and crazy and all that.

Ellie: Okay, I get it. Some women go through that in their 20’s; some women go through that in their 40’s. I am with you.

Me: Exactly! So…how does one go about doing this?

Ellie: I do not think you will like it. You would have to go to bars.

Me: Oh. I do not like bars.

Ellie: I know.

Me: Would I have to drink?

Ellie: Of course. That is an essential part of it.

Me: Aaaahhhh right. The alcohol is the Get Out of Jail Free Card. You can do anything, so long as you have a drink in you.

Ellie: (Nodding) And you would have to wear Fuck Me shoes.

Me: What are those?

Ellie: Shut! Up! You do not know what Fuck Me shoes are???

Me: (embarrassed) ummmm…no.

Ellie: Really high heels with pointed toes.

Me: I cannot wear pointed toes. I have wide feet.

Ellie: So they do not have to be pointed. They do have to be high though.

Me: (A bit discouraged by this point). Anything else?

Ellie: You need to wear makeup. Vamp it up. Liquid black eyeliner and red lipstick.

Wow. I could see that this was going to be a lot more difficult than I had expected.

Rather than quit, I decided to start with the easy part—the makeup. On my way home, I bought a tub of liquid black eyeliner. That night I put it on. My eyes started tearing up. I was allergic.

Right, scratch the slut bit. Back to the drawing board.

I bet my stupid sister can wear black eyeliner. Sigh……


Anonymous said...


Gila said...

Humor--talking the way four year old siblings do. My sister is actually quite brilliant (ergo--the brilliant High School and University career).

Anonymous said...

Nice "chag ahavah" post...

These were things I didn't know about you...

Anyway, as usual I have no suggestions...although "neuro-typical" I never really had such great dating experiences, and I don't have many suggestions. Although if you want an invite to a shabbat meal, I know someone who can set you up with a true "bitzah" experience...

Anonymous said...

Gila, once again you make me laugh out loud. I love your posts.

Miriam Goldstein said...

Liquid black eyeliner is not worth it unless you are also wearing full goth attire. Which brings me to the brilliant conclusion that you should become goth! Those corsets are totally hot (in Israel's climate, perhaps too literally).

Rabz said...


No religious compulsion necessary. We enjoy your company. I still remember our conversations fondly.

TeacherLady said...

I sometimes follow that train of thought, but then I realize I probably wouldn't have enjoyed experiences like that and would look back on them with regret... But only ever having had sex with one man, my husband, I do wonder what it would have been like to play the field a bit, but I was never like that when I was single. I had my head in a book and probably came across as aloof to the boys because I didn't drink or flash my tits at random.

singlehood to motherhood said...

and touching and sweet and sad and given my state of being at the moment made me burst into tears.
Im honored to have made it by name into the blog. Im NOT in favor of Goth... I wear liquid black eyeliner and I would NEVER go goth

Rony and Talia said...

I LOVED this post, not in the least because I can actually hear you and Ellie having this convo. :-)

I can relate. Every time someone calls me זונה I say, "I wish!"

RivkA with a capital A said...


In high school, I lived "the wild life" vicariously, through my friends. I was way too straight to do anything so stupid. And way too type A to lose control by getting drunk.

I say, find yourself some wild friends, listen to their wild stories, then go home and drink hot cocoa. You won't hate yourself in the morning.


What can I say, I hate make up and high heals make my feet hurt!

Viennetian said...

You go girl - become a slut and tell me if its worth to try it!

I actually call my midlife crisis - "feeling best in my life" and being more "energetic then ever".
I stocked up on make up (havent worn make up for good 10 years)- got some shiny eyeliner - the shiny parts irritated my eyes which actually helped me to get my contacts out in less then 10 min as they hurt so much!!

Anonymous said...

I hear you Gila! I often whine to my friends that "I want my life back, give me back my life". I have many regrets but unfortunately, what if's and why didn't I's just won't cut it. I decided to do something.
So at the old age of 41, I went back to school. Sure I still hold down a fulltime job, and my studying is only 2 afternoons/evenings a week, but the feeling is rejuvenating!
Makeup? Hmm, not really my style but I did buy some face cream on Friday...

Ahuva said...

Don't do just the eyeliner... A couple of years back I went to one of those stores that sells lots of makeup and said "I don't know anything about this stuff and want to learn. Help!" Two nice young ladies spent an more than an hour picking out powders and tubes of goopy stuff and showing me how to apply it. Eventually I had a big bag full of everything I "needed" (from eyeliner to face powder and a dozen different brushes). Also, the advantage of doing it this was is that they let me see how everything looked on me before I bought it.

I figured that it was a good start to my early mid-life crisis.

Hey... what about dancing as a way to meet guys? Dance lessons are also a good way to get some exercise.

Tzipporah said...

See, the problem is, you don't really want to be a slut. You want to be a cougar.

A cougar is an older voracious woman who has her way with any man she wants, laughing maniacally when he begs her to stay the night - but no, she must be in her OWN bed, the one with the special temper-pedic pillows, to actually sleep.

Black eyeliner, sure - try a different brand.

But NOT red lipstick. Burgundy, maybe, or even a nice soft peachy brown, something that says, "I don't HAVE to try that hard, you already want me."

The heels thing is an issue if you live somewhere with cobbled streets - definitely wouldn't work in Jerusalem.

One recommendation: take your measurements, go to Cardigan Empire and make sure you are dressing for your body type (it has nothing to do with weight). Just click the little shapes along the right-hand side (pear, apple, hourglass, etc.) to find the one that matches you.

I did this, went shopping last week, and now I feel fabulous and sexy even if I forget to comb my hair or find (at 10am) that I've been walking around with one of the toddler's socks stuck to my butt.

Shopping is always a good prelude to anything, really. :)

sparrow said...

Oh Gila, you are a crease! Thanks for making me laugh so much.
I am totally at a loss why you don't have a trail of men after you. You are so funny and brave and honest. Virtues indeed.
But do pass on the vertigo inducing heels. It's not worth getting your back thrown out.....not to mention the corns and callouses on the balls of your feet. Take it from someone who KNOWS.

Shira Salamone said...

Like you, my son, now a PhD student in physics, is a late-bloomer, both socially and academically. I've often wondered what his life would have been like if he hadn't spent almost his entire childhood in special education.

Try Israeli folk dancing/rikudei am. That may sound corny, I know, but, at least in the US, Israeli folk dancing attracts people of all ages, from teenagers to folks in their seventies (quoth Ms. Just-Turned-60), so you won't feel like the grandma of the group. It gets you moving, too, which can't be bad for Roxie the Diet. And it'll also keep you out of those health-wrecking high heels. :)

Anonymous said...

Shira and Gila,
Many other youngsters suffer because they were NOT in special education. Undiagnozed, these kids go around labelled "lazy" and "stupid" and don't reach their full potential because nobody thought there was a learning disability involved.

Shira Salamone said...

e.e., ain't that the truth. See the sidebar on my blog for a link to my series, "Park your ego at the door: On raising a child with disabilities."

Anonymous said...

I thought that "aint" aint, sorry isn't, in the dictionary:) (Yes, I've been reading your blog).

Anonymous said...


92smithie said...

I have, in fact, given your sister black eyeliner. As an adult. Not sure if it helps to know that she isn't "born to it" either....

and, by the way, if you want to have some of those experiences, you need me. of course, being a Chicagoan, I only know how to have those experiences when one spends a weekend in Milwaukee, but I can try to help.

and for you, my darling, I'd even go to a bar. of course, I'd prefer a more interesting target than frat boys, but still.....

smooch - Suzanne