In my last post, I wrote about how change effects people with Asperger’s Syndrome and how it effected me personally and I cited two examples. The first was how I thought that joining the Marine Corps would solve all my problems and the anxieties that built up inside me when it didn’t. The second was how I thought I would be seen as the coolest guy in college by all of the British students on account of my left wing views, especially about America. That too, caused me great problems when things didn’t go according to my expectations. Having had a week to reflect on things, I am now going to post about the biggest anxiety causing change, when I left the marines and how those anxieties relating to it caused me to become so left wing.
Naturally, I was very excited about leaving the service and becoming a civilian again. No longer did I have to worry about keeping a military haircut every week nor facing a $75 fine if I didn’t get one. I also looked forward to not having to dress like the person next to me down to the minutest details. Of course, there were other things like knowing my working hours in advance, not worrying about standing duty at the last minute and if I did get called into work on my day off, I would be paid for my extra time. Then there was the respect factor. When I had been a marine, guys who used to bully me or give me grief showed me respect. One or two even said they weren’t going to mess with me because I was a marine. It was little wonder that when I got out, I thought the world was my oyster.
For almost the first year, that thought seemed to be the case for me. People either befriended me or ignored me and that was okay. Even my eccentric choice of footwear didn’t seem to bother too many people but like high school, I pretty much kept to myself. Anxieties from my past kept me reaching out to people and instead I waited for others to approach me. Even though I had been in the service and had a lot of interesting experiences, my lack of faith in my social skills prevented me from approaching people. So, while I was happy with the way things were going in my life, I knew deep down they were far from perfect.
I think the first memorable negative incident happened during the college elections. Having been to a good number of European cities, I was used to seeing graffiti and posters telling people to “Vote Communist.” When I first saw it written, I had the natural American reaction that whatever country I was in at the time wanted to ‘go commie.’ However, I discovered the reality of it was that the particular country didn’t want to become Communist, it was just a few people in that country expressing their political view. One day, during the election campaign, I thought it would be funny to write “Vote Communist” on one of the boards. I couldn’t believe the reactions of some of the people who saw it. I might as well have written every single swear word on that board. One guy asked what was the matter with me and didn’t think too much to my response that it was just a joke. I wish I had been on the ball more then because I should have told him never to go to Europe because he wouldn’t have been able to handle the culture shock.
The defining incident would come a couple of months later and my college’s Spring Bash. One thing I learned in the marines was how to party and I thought that because I was in college, people would want to part too. After all, the film “Animal House” was only six years old. So, I showed up to the bash with a pint of everclear, (pure grain alcohol.) I offered it around but everyone politely declined so I drank it myself. The result was that I spent the last three hours of the event passed out on a park bench and occasionally puking my guts out. Most people there were not very amused and I probably would have been more popular that day if I had shown up with a nine millimeter glock and started shooting everyone. The funny thing was that because this happened during exam time at the end of the year and nothing was said during those last few days so I thought that I had dodged a bullet.
When I returned to college in the following Autumn, I couldn’t have been more wrong. People who had been friendly towards me the previous year weren’t so friendly, putting on a strained smile at best. Then there were the new arrivals who only wanted to see a guy with long hair, which wasn’t cool during the intolerant times of 80s Regan America. Those boots didn’t help much either. As a result, I was made a pariah by most people in the college. No one wanted to know that the reason for my eccentric hair and dress was on account of four years of living under strict military discipline. It seemed that all they cared about was because I wasn’t conforming like the good little Nazi, I deserved to be treated like the Jew. Things went downhill rapidly and I retreated into my shell. One result of this was that on a couple of occasions, I was accused of being unfriendly. Well, with everyone judging me and not caring to know what I had been through, of course I would be a little defensive. Besides, all of this intolerance was sending my anxiety levels through the roof.
Things kind of went in the above vein for the next two years. Yes, I did make friends and even had a couple of short relationships with women but most of it wasn’t what I had expected when I had left the marines. The whole thing caused me great anxiety because I felt that no one wanted to see my side of things. I thought that having served my country for four years, people would be more tolerant of me. After all, I wasn’t doing anything to hurt anyone.
With my view of the American dream blowing up in my face, I began to look elsewhere and pinned my hopes on England. A few months before I went over, I had transferred to the local State college where I found some tolerant people. There was a college club called Students for a Democratic Alternative who expressed left wing views and whose members accepted me as I was. With that, I started looking east for my salvation and that was why I studied and eventually accepted Karl Marx into my life. And that is why I left for England with expectations I posted about last time.
Don’t worry, I’m not a Marxist anymore. I believe it’s a great theory that will never work in reality. I’m no longer angry with America or with those who went to that community college back in the 1980s. I know that with my brain, I didn’t know how to cope with their intolerance and the frustrations of things not turning out the way I had expected. I can do that better now.
To buy He Was Weird, go to: http://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1460400681&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird