“By the way, the date went really, really well,” Matt told his dad.
Not according to Sophia, Carrie’s mom. Matt’s dad, Charlie, had talked to her after. Matt and Carrie knew each other since they were kids. They went to Saturday social skills classes for autistic kids. Nobody called it Asperger’s anymore. It was preferred you used the term ‘Spectrum’. Matt and Carrie were high functioning. High or low functioning is faux pas these days too. Both kids are spectrumy.
Matt was going to graduate school now, plus he had a job taking care of disabled adults at a senior center. Carrie was also taking grad courses, random courses, history here, comp lit there, random because she wasn’t really interested in a degree. She just liked being connected as a professional student.
Matt lived with his dad and his gay partner since his mom and dad divorced. The two dads were retired now. Their plan was to live in Italy half of the year, then Arizona the other half. But first they wanted to test out how Matt might do, living on his own. Matt had always said he wanted to live on his own sooner or later. The two dads were verifying, looking forward to retirement, and a self-reliant Matt.
Sophia called after the date. “Carrie gave me the blow by blow when she got home.” Sofia knew Charlie was anxious to hear how it all went down.
“She told me Matt seemed disinterested, almost rude. The date was like pulling teeth, difficult to keep a conversation going. He didn’t talk to her while they ate.”
Charlie defended, “Carrie must know that is normal for Matt. They’ve known each other since God knows how long. His lack of conversational skills must not have been a surprise.”
“I’m telling you, Charlie, it was a surprise. You know how spectrumy girls are better equipped than the boys. This was a date and she expected better from her date! After scarfing his food down, he waited for her to finish. It was irritating, as if they had a contest and he had won. It was like he was waiting for her to cross the finish line. Then he went to the bathroom. For fifteen minutes!”
Again, Charlie defended. “Carrie must know how these kids are at dinner parties. They get on their cell phones and bury their noses. We have always taught Matt that is rude, so he always goes to the bathroom at a party, nose buried in his phone. He did the same on this date.”
“Oh, Charlie, you really don’t know. When Matt came back, Carrie asked him what took so long. He told her he met someone in the bathroom, the host at the restaurant. And the guy was really nice. And they talked. And they exchanged phone numbers! Your son was in the bathroom setting up another date, with another guy!”
Charlie wished he was standing. He needed to sit down but he was already seated.
“I don’t know, Charlie, like I said, the girls are better at this. For Carrie, this was a big deal. She expected a regular date. She did not expect her spectrum friend Matt to come back from the bathroom and announce he had met another guy! And when Matt did not leave a tip, the waiter yelled at them. She hated it. We were calling it a blind date, this being her first. She told me it was a blind failure!”
Charlie wondered how he could be so blind. Was it the fear that his son would never be self-reliant? Would there never be an independent Matt? Then it sunk in. This date, this test, was not a failure. No matter where he and retired husband travelled, Matt would now have the support of a gay network, LBGTQ resources always available. He would make a list for Matt of support groups for LBGTQ adults on the spectrum.
Matt was right. Charlie agreed. Although Sophia and Carrie may think otherwise, the date went really, really well.
Ben Umayam moved to NYC to write the Great American Filipino Gay Short Story. He worked for political consultants, became a chef at a fancy hotel, then worked privately as a chef for priests. He is now retired and is working on that short story again. Recently he was published in the online publications Maudlin House, Digging Through The Fat, The South East Asia Drabble Anthology published by Insignia, 34th Parallel Magazine, and Anak Sastra. In the next few months, he will be published in Home Planet News, Gay Flash Fiction and EthelZine.