I got a new shirt a few weeks ago and I love it. I washed it today and, when I was hanging it up, I was trying to figure out when I can wear it again.

It reminds me of this shirt I had in college. They look nothing alike – the only thing they have in common is that they’re both soft and both shirts. The new one is off-white with blue stripes and kind of sweatshirt-ish, the other was knit and off-white with green flowers all over it. I guess they have the off-white part in common, but that’s not anything I particularly liked about either, so it doesn’t count. Here are pictures of both:

Evernote Snapshot 20140429 123003


Circa 1990

Circa 1990










Yes, I know, mom jeans. It was the late nineties. Sue me. I pulled it out of the frame and the fortune is stuck tight, so you get that, too.

See? No real similarities. So, what made me think of the shirt from college today? It was the fact that I was wondering when I could wear my new shirt again.

I used to wear the green flowers shirt when I would go out with my friends. A lot, I guess, because my roommates started staging clothing-interventions. They would offer me other clothes to wear, telling me how great this and that would look on me. It felt kind of weird to me, but I decided maybe that’s what girls do. Though none of them ever wanted to wear any of my clothes and I never witnessed any of them exchanging clothes with each other. Eventually I realized that the clothing exchanges usually happened when I would put on the green flowered shirt, so I stopped trying to wear it.

Thing is, I didn’t know why they didn’t want me to wear my favorite shirt and they didn’t know why I didn’t know that I should REALLY have stopped wearing it months before. Or maybe I should never have bought it in the first place. I really still don’t understand. I know I was somehow wrong, but I don’t know why.

I know that something about the way I look, the way I dress myself and do my hair, is wrong, but I don’t know what or how to fix it. I said to a friend a while back that I have no style. She told me that’s ridiculous – everybody has a style. I guess mine is comfort, but I still don’t think that can legitimately be called a style. I think of it more like I have comfort instead of style.

I like t-shirts and jeans because I like how they feel. I don’t like shoes because they generally hurt my feet. I don’t like to wear white because it makes me self-conscious. I like my current haircut because I don’t spend any time at all styling it. I like t-shirts with sayings on them that amuses me, though I’m pretty sure they make me look sad and weird to some people. When it came to work or going out, when I did either of those things, my philosophy has always been that I’m going to feel awkward no matter what I wear, so I might as well be wearing comfortable shoes.

I’ve drifted off point, though. My point was about communication and subtlety. As with most autistics, subtlety doesn’t work on me. Knowing it exists has only made me anxious and distrustful over the years. I know I can’t read the subtle social signs that tell allistic (non-autistic) people when they should leave a social situation, so I either over-analyze every gesture or comment made or I just assume I’ve already overstayed my welcome.

I can’t get the subtle signals of social interaction. Even after 45 years of trying. So, I’ve decided to (try to) stop trying. It would have been much easier for everyone if my college roommates had just told me that I should stop wearing my favorite shirt and why. Yes, my feelings probably would have been hurt, but I wouldn’t still be wondering about it. And after I got over the hurt, even through the hurt, I would have appreciated the honest input.

So, if you witness me doing something that’s socially inappropriate or ill-advised, please just tell me. I can pretty much guarantee I don’t know what I’m doing is wrong. Be gentle, but direct because I won’t get a subtle hint. For my part, I’ll try to accept it with an open heart and mind; I’ll deal with my own hurt feelings and promise I won’t hold it against you. I’d rather know.