Overheard: Endlessly

It was one of those mornings when I clung to my cup of coffee, newspaper on my lap, and waited for consciousness to take hold.

(Like that kitty above, but not as cute.)

So, naturally, Gavin and Maggie were especially chatty.

Maggie announced: “I’m really, really good at fake laughing.”

For the next fifteen minutes she demonstrated her fake laugh.

“You’re not that good,” I told her.

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Then it was Gavin’s turn to take a drill to my skull. He delighted in telling me about his exploits playing Madden 10 on the XBox. The level of detail was excruciating. He explained to me the draft, the trades he made, the trades he almost made, the players on the opposing team, his overall record, the score at halftime, his precarious field position with 50 seconds left, play by play by play, endlessly.

I have often felt that all boys contain elements of Asperger’s; they are the collectors, the ones who go on at length about dinosaurs and trains; who can talk and talk without much interaction. They never seem to ask, “Am I boring you?”

I was patient with Gavin, stupified into submission, and nodded and grunted and asked for clarification accordingly. Is there anything more painstakingly tedious than a kid describing his video game adventures? Even if it’s a kid you kind of like? The answer is yes, an adult telling you about his Fantasy Baseball Team. But it’s close; they’re first cousins.

So finally it was time to drive to school. Gavin kept talking — this is the boy stuff in his very good brain, the material overflowing, the things he puzzles over, that excite him, that he thinks about at night: Madden 10.

I don’t think he recounts these stories for his mother; no, he saves up this stuff for Dad. This is our special conversation, and it would be wrong for me to shut down that tap.

As we drove, from the back seat Maggie practiced her fake laugh in its many shades and varieties: a titter here, a booming guffaw there, snickers, whoops, howls and giggles. Sometimes I’d interrupt Gavin, use the rear view mirror to lock eyes with Maggie to say, “That was a good one, Mags. Very authentic.”

But mostly I was counting the seconds till I could pull over and say, “Bye-bye!”

——-

More fake laughter, this time without smiling (because it’s a mixed-up crazy world and you can find ANYTHING on Youtube):

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4 comments

  1. Liz S says:

    Jimmy, this is priceless.

  2. Tina E says:

    “I have often felt that all boys contain elements of Asperger’s; they are the collectors, the ones who go on at length about dinosaurs and trains; who can talk and talk without much interaction. They never seem to ask, “Am I boring you?”

    Jim, I totally agree.

    I have long had a theory that when boys grow up to be men, they hold onto their toy collections and pet topics of fascination. For my husband, it’s the Simpsons. For my brother it was and is minute details about Star Trek, WWII airplanes, and NFL uniforms…you see? Ask any wife. She’ll tell you.

    I used to wonder why my brother never picked up on the fact that no one was remotely interested in how the silver stripes on the Eagles’ helmets changed from year to year. Now I know.

  3. Debra says:

    Jimmy,
    What an awesome and totally relatable article/blog. Last night my 12-year old son was going on and on about…who the hell knows. My husband and I gave each other looks from across the table through glazed over eyes. But, my daughter (who is 9 1/2) said it best, “land the plane, Caleb. If I was your date, I’d be gone by now.”
    On another note, while I’m not usually a blog reader – I truly love yours. They would make a good collection for a book.
    Wishing you a very happy new year.
    Debra

  4. Jimmy says:

    It’s wonderful when a lurker makes a comment; I feel like a marooned sailor discovering a footprint in the sand.

    I love that line, “Land the plane, Caleb.” Consider it stolen.

    It’s hard to keep up with blogs, even ones we enjoy, so I’m grateful to anyone who stops by.

    Not to say that only Gavin has this quality. Ask Maggie about a movie or a book she’s reading, and she will recount it in mind-numbing detail. Which is interesting in terms of comprehension, that she’s not yet able to prioritize or compress: everything appears equally important. All trees, no forest. Fascinating. Probably has to something to do with abstraction and higher-order thinking skills: wild guess.

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