A lesson in Aspergers...

I have a cousin a few years younger than me who had long ago been diagnosed with severe Aspergers. Dave is a highly intelligent, eccentric and completely devoted music and film lover, especially Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra. Having lived with his mother and been pampered his entire life, he’d been able to work at the local Walmart for a few years, which enabled him to receive a small monthly social security check.

Totally indulging himself in his love of music and film he spent the entire amount on classic CDs, film and TV collections. After several years, his collection completely filled a spare bedroom, floor to ceiling. He and his mom watched and listened to them every night and he memorized lines and lyrics as well as the liner notes.

When his mom passed, my sister helped him sell his house, liquidate his collection (no small feat, but he donated everything to several libraries) and relocate to an assisted living facility in South Jersey. We try to visit him a few times a year.

I have always enjoyed my cousin, Dave. He’s kind, insightful, laughs easily and has a wealth of information which he loves to share. He talks in song lyrics and movie titles. A conversation with Dave goes something like this…….

While driving to the local diner, Dave, feeling unusually generous, told me, “I want to treat you to lunch today”.

“Oh, big spender”, I told him.“That’s nice of you, but you should probably hold on to your money”.

"’Big Spender’, Sweet Charity, 1966”, said Dave without missing a beat.

 “Ah”, Margo sarcastically confirmed while looking in her purse for something. “I’m glad you’re picking up the check, Dave. I forgot my wallet. If I only had a brain….” She tried to catch herself before Dave jumped on it.

“’If I Only Had a Brain,’, Ray Bolger, Wizard of Oz, 1939. 

“Ah---- here we go”, she said, raising her eyebrows in amusement.

We pulled up to the diner and as we entered, Dave said, “I’m glad you both came today. You haven’t been here to visit me for almost two years. Was it because of Covid?” he asked.

“Yes it was.” I said. “But we decided we were coming today come rain or shine.”

“’Come Rain Or Shine‘, Judy Garland, Live at Carnegie Hall, 1961” he replied with a smile.

“O----kay”, Margo said as she rolled her eyes..

So you get the gist of the conversation. Thoroughly entertaining.

Margo and I were looking at the menu to choose a dessert we could split. I’d been trying to avoid chocolate and told her, “If we eat that brownie fudge desert, we will surely cry tomorrow”.

Dave hit us with, “I’ll Cry Tomorrow, Susan Hayward, 1955.”

  “Let’s skip dessert,  hit the road and go to Walmarts to do some shopping.”

 "’Hit the Road Jack’,  Ray Charles, 1961”, Dave replied. “That sounds like a good idea. You know, I don’t have nobody but you both to visit me.”

“I Ain’t Got Nobody’, Louie Prima, 1955”, I said.

“It was actually called “Just a Gigolo” and it was 1956”, he said.

Margo smirked at me, starting to remember how this game was played and enjoying the fact that I had been corrected.

So, we went to Walmarts and had fun shopping for Dave on his birthday; clothes, books and his favorite snacks. 

As we pulled up to his place of residence, Margo asked, “Your home looks nice. Very sunny. Have you made any friends?”

 “’Throughout the years I’ve made a lot of friends’, “Here’s to the Band”, Frank Sinatra, 1983.

“And who was the composer?” I asked.

“You and Alfred, of course. Did you forget?”

No, I hadn’t - and I was touched that he neither had he.