Today, as it turns out, is Rosh Hashana. Ordinarily, this date means precisely nothing to me; this year, however, my live-in girlfriend Nominatissima (who is Jewish) felt like throwing a party for New Years, complete with the consumption of copious quantities of challah, bobkah, pommegranite seeds, and a nasty sort of syrupy wine called Manichewitz*.
As it happens, Jewish people are apparenty hard to come-by in this part of Canada (I know of only one in addition to Nominatissima), so my girlfriend simply invited all of her friends in town. Now, as it hapens, while there is significant overlap between our groups of friends, they generally fall into two distinct clusters: they are either physicists, or members of our University’s various advocacy groups** (mostly Pride). My friends are mostly physicists, with a handful of Priders thrown-in to the mix; her friends are mostly Priders with a handful of physicists thrown-in to the mix.
Now, for whatever reason, not only did none of the physicists she invited show up, none of the Priders with whom I am especially close did either. So I spent the evening in the midst of a bunch of people whom I barely knew, talking (loudly) about subjects which were either obscure or uninteresting to me. The truth is, I’ve never been especially comfortable in crowds; if they’re crowds of close friends, then I can manage. If however, they are antagonistic or strange to me, I simply cannot handle the sensory input (this is why I spent so much of my childhood embarassing myself at house parties). Moreover, our apartment is a bachelor’s suite, so there was not really anywhere to which I could retreat. Being autistic, I soon found myself overwhelmed by a rather painful sensory overload, to which my only possible response was to bow out gracelessly and go for a lengthy walk through the quietest residential streets that I could find, returning only after I had come back to myself.
As it turned out, one of my friends had refrained from attending for this very reason. I wish I had shared her good sense, and maybe gone to see a movie or something.
The moral of the story is:
Not everyone has to be a social butterfly.
*This, for whatever, reason is considered “traditional” in spite of the fact that it literally tastes like someone let grape-flavoured kool-aid ferment in the sun.
**Nominatissima, in addition to be Jewish, is also disabled, omnisexual, Aboriginal and a woman: she is therefore a member of all of our campus’s social justice groups.