The Princess and Every Damn Thing

If someone stuck a pea under the twenty mattresses I was sleeping on, it would wake me up. Just me, not Clarence. My husband could be on fire and not notice. Someone could shoot him in the leg and, if they used a silencer, he wouldn’t notice for hours. Cuts, burns,  cracked ribs, pneumonia. Nothing seems to stop him. I can’t make that claim.

My whole day can be ruined by a shirt tag. Even the softest piece of fabric feels like an ice pick coated with scratchy velcro. This is true for pant tags as well, which is why my underwear looks like it belongs on someone’s great grandmother. Anything to prevent the tag from peeking over and digging into my skin. Socks that bunch, itch, or almost have a hole, hats that grip my head, tights that won’t stay up. If my clothes don’t feel right, I can’t have a good day.

This is also true of the weather. I hate wind. The kind you get near the ocean or on Osborne Bridge in Winnipeg. Wind makes my ears ache. I find it unsettling in ways I’ve never been able to figure out. I could not be a sailor. I’d live for the days of calm when the boat just rocked from side to side and never went anywhere.

Loud music is also a problem. My sister Linda and I were the only teenagers with cotton batting in our ears at a concert. Certain voices that carry in a grating way, or people who are generally loud, are hard to be around. Clarence’s family took a while to get used to when we first got married. Everyone talked like they were on stage and no one had provided a microphone.

As I look over the list, I realize that these symptoms are close to those on the autism spectrum. Unfortunately I didn’t receive the powerful concentration for things that interest me. Even when I love what I’m doing, its easy for me to … Look! There’s a fox! Wait. Where was I?

What I’m trying to say is, if you see me walking down the street with a discouraged look, know that my long underwear is probably not as soft as it should be. My jacket may have wrist bands that bite, or a hood that hugs my neck too closely. I can handle actual pain much better than this kind of irritant. I don’t know why. But now that I’ve put it out there, I feel a little better. Just…that tag… dammit.

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