You were literally floating on air? No, I don’t think you were.
As a child, I took everything people said literally. I have very clear memories of doing this.
1. When I mentioned something a boy had said to me, my dad asked, “Is he a boy you go to school with?” I thought carefully about the question and then replied, “No, I don’t go to school with him, I go to school with Jason,” referring to another boy whose mom gave me a ride every morning. While the boy I was initially referring to was in my class, I was thinking about the words go to, so I thought my dad meant who I literally travelled there with. The boy I had been mentioning got to school another way, therefore I did not see him as someone I went to school with.
2. When having a class picture taken, the teacher said, “Put your hands in your lap.” I looked down at my lap, not sure what exactly she meant. I tried to reason it out inside my head: Okay, when I sit on mom or dad’s lap, that’s on their lap. If that’s on, what’s in? I concluded that if the top of the thighs was on, there was only one place that could be considered in. So I pressed my hands together and stuffed them down in between my thighs. When I saw the resulting photo, I realized I’d gotten it wrong. Every other child sitting down in the photo had their hands neatly folded on top of their lap. In this context, “in your lap” meant the same thing as “on your lap” and I was apparently the only child who never would have guessed that.
3. For some unknown reason, there was a pile of boards stacked up beside the school building (that would never be allowed to happen these days, but nobody cared about safety back then). A friend of mine pointed at them and said, “On Friday, let’s use those boards to build a pedal car and pedal it to Disneyland.” I agreed to it and went to school that Friday actually thinking I was leaving for Disneyland that day. I didn’t know how to build a pedal car, but I assumed she did, since she proposed the idea. When she never mentioned it again, I was bewildered, disappointed, and a little relieved all at the same time. (We are friends to this day and still laugh about this.)
4. A certain celebrity at the time had the same name as me, and every time she would come on TV, my mom (who has always had the tendency to see significance in utterly insignificant things) would gleefully make a big deal about the woman’s name and say, “You’re just like her!” I remember examining this woman for similarities other than our shared name, and not being able to find any, announced that I wanted to be called something different.
5. I was a little older when this happened, but I had a friend who was from Ireland and often talked about her Irish heritage and Irish pride. One day when I was in a bookstore I saw a book about Irish myths and legends and I thought of her, so I bought it for her as a gift. (For what it’s worth, I thought the book was pretty cool and I would have liked it myself at the time, despite having no Irish heritage whatsoever.) When I presented it to her, she said, “Oh right, because I’m Irish, I’ll like anything to do with Ireland!” At the time I felt pleased that she liked the gift. It was only years later that I remembered the incident (I have an extremely good memory, to my detriment at times) and realized she was being sarcastic and the gift was actually a social blunder.
As I aged I learned to understand figures of speech and other nuances of language, as well as things like flights of fancy (2000 kilometres to Disneyland by self-propulsion, anyone?), mostly due to my love of literature, reading, writing, and English class. But there are times to this day when someone uses deadpan humour and I think they’re serious, even though I can use deadpan humour myself.
I think some people might hear (or read) me using figures of speech, metaphors, similes, slang, sarcasm, etc. and think that I must not have Asperger’s. But if you would have known me as a child and young adult, you might get that I probably do.