Monday, 16 February 2015


so, this is clearly too late for valentines day. screw that noise anyway.

no, this is about trashy TV. while channel-hopping recently, I found "the (un)datables". normally, I cringe at the yucky inspiration porn and flick on up, but 1. my ex's brother was on & 2. there isn't much happening beyond 4seven anyway. the episode I saw revisited a bisexual woman with tourettes & 2 Autistic guys (including said ex's big brother).

firstly, the good points:

  • being a documentary (rather than a scripted drama), the bisexual woman was a well rounded, relatable human being. while she was visibly queer (she went on a date with a woman), she was never assumed to be a lesbian (she mentions an ex-boyfriend - not on the date, and the voiceover says she's bi) and her sexuality isn't made out to be A Huge Thing That Her Whole Life Revolves Around. more like this, please.
  • Autistic adults! who actually get to speak for themselves. their parents are interviewed as well, but it's in line with documentaries on other subjects (they're showing multiple perspectives on the situation) rather than with most Autism documentaries (where the parent is clearly the focus). now, we just need some female representation and maybe, shock horror, some sexual variation (kinky, queer, happily asexual, your choice, channel 4, actually, please don't do asexual & Autistic, until you've got a bit more experience at doing both well individually. and, please, real kink, not 50 shades crap. I know enough queer Autistics to start a knitting circle, if you're interested...)

WHY? why did they go on the dates they did? both Autistic guys, as far as I remember, exclusively went on dates that were absolutely small talk dependant. I'm as user-friendly as the average NT wants me to be, and nothing sounds less fun than "lets have coffee in the same place and talk about nothing in particular, to try and work out if we want to exchange phone numbers and bodily fluids in the future" (with the possible exception of blood tests. my blood wasn't meant to be "tested").

I wonder who made that decision? if it was the production team, fuck you, channel 4! this is people's lives you're messing with. a bad date might be one wasted afternoon to you, but when dating is made harder by a communication disability, and then further complicated by a culture that systemically erases your existence, the cost is much higher.

if it was the NTs in their lives, or the Autistics themselves, they have my sympathy, but I'm surprised no one made any other suggestion. I saw parents coaching their adult offspring to act as NT as possible on smalltalk-dependant dates with people they'd never met, and I really don't see the point.

if we assume the point of dating is to find a suitable life partner, why are "special interests" a banned topic? I get that NTs wish the Autistic in their lives wasn't quite so into ________, but wouldn't a partner who appreciated or even shared that passion be wonderful? if we're always told "don't talk about ______", we won't talk about ______, and we'll never know. for the record, I love hearing about the things my friends are into. I'll listen & ask questions about it, and be both entertained and educated on a subject I otherwise wouldn't think about very much. then it's my turn and I'll try to explain colour globes, and fractals, and tell them about my current knitting project. banning this stuff would rob me of the best part of my social relationships. if there's a risk of it becoming All About _______, set ground rules (some sort of safe word? timers so each person chooses a subject for 30 minutes, then switch? whatever works). basically, don't act like a completely different person on a date because that won't impress anyone you'll want to share your life with.

and, back to the dates themselves, why just sit & talk? not only does it not sound fun, it sounds functionally useless. go do things together! what things, I hear you ask? well, that depends. it depends on cost, location, the interests & sensory needs of those involved...

...having thought about it, I'd like to go to a paint your own pottery place. we'd get one small thing, and sit in the back corner of the shop with two brushes. the mug/pencil pot would give us something to talk about, and de-awkward any silences. if we wanted the date to last longer, we can get another thing to paint afterwards or go for a drink somewhere else. if we get together, we have the most sickeningly soppy memento of our first date, and if not we just don't go back to collect it. in any case, I'd leave with a much clearer idea of our compatability than I would if we just got a drink.

other ideas:
  • cinema then a drink (the film is a thing to talk about, so no need to small talk)
  • a museum or gallery
  • take a cookery class together, or prepare a meal at one of your houses
  • go to a castle, or other historical place of interest
  • go shopping? (I had to put a token definitely-not-for-me option)
  • do the coffee thing, but take some board games that work with 2 people
  • ...or whatever sounds like a fun way to spend time with another human being
if none of these things sound fun to you, and you don't have any suggestion that sound fun to me, we probably shouldn't date. but that's OK. in a sense, a date where you discover you're incompatible with the other person is a successful date. it's only a waste of time if you think it's right because one or both of you were playing a part, or you leave with no idea.

in other news, I managed to forget it was valentines day until walking into a restaurant with a friend and asking for a table for 2. this despite remembering my mum's birthday, knowing that valentines day is always the day after that and capitalism's best efforts to make sure I knew about all the exciting opportunities to buy pink chocolate. I'm a little bit proud of that...

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