The house is rather full at the moment which has its plus points and its minus points. We have just finished eating dinner and there are a few things that triggered reactions. One of the things that I am well known for is being protective of my kitchen knives. My wife first knew about this before she even met me because my flatmate at that time (we were all doing postgraduate degrees at Edinburgh University) told his course mates about me not letting other people touch my knives. There was a good reason for this (at least in my mind) because I didn’t trust anybody else to treat my knives “properly” in the manner that I did. Treating them properly meant only using a sharp knife on wooden or plastic cutting board because other surfaces, standard plates for instance, lead to the blunting of the knives.

That flat in Edinburgh was a difficult transition for me. It was the first time that I shared with other people outside my family so it was the first time that people had access to my cooking things. I didn’t know why in those days but I have always took pride in having high quality things and treating them properly. Whilst I wasn’t the only student to have audiophile hi-fi equipment, I was probably the only one that had a complete set of cast iron Le Creuset saucepans, casserole dishes and frying pans. They were a wise investment because I still have them though some have been destroyed by family members (a tarte Tatin did my small frying pan in, and metal forks and knives were used on my non-stick large frying pan).

I also had “professional” cooking knives though what I thought of as professional in those days has changed over the years. Nevertheless, they were heavy good quality stainless steel knives and I got it into my head that I needed to preserve their sharpness as much as possible. I did eventually discover easy to use knife sharpeners but that was much later, so in my student days I think I was rather dictatorial in how knives should be treated.

During dinner we had some cake for pudding. My friend who is staying with us for the moment, mentioned needing to get the right chopping board to cut the cake because she had learnt yesterday that my sharp knife rules. Now to be honest I don’t understand other people’s need to use a sharp knife to cut a crumbly cake with soft icing on top. I would use a normal eating knife because that is perfectly adequate for the task and designed to be used in conjunction with normal plates. But a sharp knife had been selected so a wood board was found to put the cake on. A family member however felt the need to explain my friend’s comment to a cousin who is visiting (as I said the house is filling up) as an amusing aside. At least that is my interpretation, and I don’t find it amusing at all, it feels to me like my family is making fun of my autism and I feel embarrassed and hurt.

It reminds me of when Scots people make fun of the English. Watching World Cup football? Ask many a Scotsman which team they will support and the reply is often “anybody except the England team”. Scots will only look down on well educated Edinburgh people because “they sound too English”. The unofficial national anthem of Scotland? How about “Flower of Scotland” which celebrates the beating of the English army by Robert Bruce at Bannockburn in 1314. The numerical combination of the door lock where I first worked in Dundee? Try 1314. Is this institutionalised racism? No, but it is engrained into society and believe me, it gets rather wearing at times.

Poking fun at our mistakes and idiosyncrasies is what friends and family do though sometimes it can get wearing too. I am clever enough to dish this out, but it seems I am not gracious enough to accept it. Not at the moment anyway.

Perhaps I am being oversensitive about the knife comment. Perhaps I am feeling over stimulated by the constant conversation at dinnertime but by the time hot drinks are offered, I find myself overeacting to the requests being made. I don’t take a hot drink after dinner, it has never made sense to me but the custom exists. Two people order Chai tea, that’s my tea I rebel in my head, is there going to be enough left for me when I want it? My wife fills her pot of tea up too and I see a yellow label sticking out from the lid. She is using the Singapore Breakfast Tea that her cousin brought over for us. There were only sixteen tea bags (100% cotton btw) of this exquisite delicately flavoured spiced tea and I feel as those my wife is being reckless in her consumption. I feel as though I should be drinking the tea too so as not to miss out, but I don’t want tea either. I feel stupid. It is just tea for goodness sake but I am getting worked up about it and want to hide some bags to consume at my leisure.

Perhaps then, it is my anxiety that is really talking or thinking I should say. I want to be in control of when I drink my tea, and I want the option of choosing which special tea to drink. I want what other people are having, but just on my own terms, when I want it.

 

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