Thanks to a very dear friend, I have a new addiction. It goes by the name "The Big Bang Theory." And it's hilarious.
For the most part.
It's also incredibly difficult to watch at times.
It's about a group of socially awkward physics geniuses.
Now, I did not enjoy the study of physics. It simply was not in my limited area of interest. But I am, in my own right, a socially awkward genius.
And while watching Leonard moon over Penny, and Raj freeze up and go mute in the presence of women, and seeing Howard use cheesy and grossly inappropriate pick-up lines in the hopes of attracting women is comical, watching Sheldon try to engage other people in his daily life....well, it's like watching myself.
The spot on the couch that is his--that he's painstakingly chosen because of cross-currents and angle to the television--and his inability to function when someone else sits there is just too much like real life. I've had total meltdowns before when someone sat in "my spot."
Everything in Sheldon's kitchen has a purpose and corresponding label. While living in community, I once didn't know how to handle the fact that someone tried to share refrigerator shelf-space with me. Meltdown.
Sheldon has specific expectations of people, and when they don't meet those expectations, things get interesting. I expect people to be clear about their expectations for me. In my job, if you want me to complete a task, I want to know every step that is necessary, in the precise order, and I want this information before I begin.
One day at work, I was asked to do a task I did not know how to complete. I searched, and searched, and searched and asked, and asked, and asked, and no one who was present knew how to complete this task. So, I figured out a back route on my own. Voila! Task accomplished. The next day, I was asked why I had done what I had done and more importantly why I hadn't done it in a specific way. Melt DOWN! A big one.
Or how about the work trip we took at the end of November, beginning of December. I was not adequately prepared for precisely what was to take place. 5 hours of meeting one new person after another? Meltdown. In the ladies' room. Meltdown in the van outside the restaurant.
The worst part of a Sunday morning for me? The requisite line of 100 strangers all touching me. Yes, I realize it's just shaking hands, but I have to take a breath and prepare myself for that touch before every single person. When someone touches me unexpectedly anywhere else, I have to take a deep breath and consciously talk myself out of having a meltdown or tearing the other person's arm off.
Watching Sheldon figure out what a rhetorical question is.... Been there. Done that. Still struggle with it.
When Sheldon tries to explain Schroedinger's Cat to Penny in the first season, and when she does not get it, repeating the exact same thing to her in the exact same language.... "The weatherstrip on your awning window is pressure-fit in the kerf," was my response to the question, "How do I change the weatherstrip on my awning window?"
When the homeowner responded with, "Yes, but how do I change the weatherstrip on the awning window?" I replied, "It's pressure-fit into the kerf."
And when they asked, "But how do I change the weatherstrip?"
I finally asked all of the questions necessary to identify that this was, in fact, an awning window, of a specified size, and responded, "You will need to purchase weatherstip A, remove the old weatherstrip from your sash, and pressure fit the new weatherstrip into the kerf."
And when the homeowner replied, "I have the new weatherstrip. How do I put it on my window?"
I replied with, "It's pressure-fit into the kerf."
And when they asked, "But how do I do that?"
I replied, "You use pressure. To fit it into the kerf."
Someone later pointed out to me that the homeowner, in all likelihood, doesn't know what a kerf is. To which I responded, "Have they never watched New Yankee Workshop on Public Television!?" At which point I was told, "Honey, no one but you watches New Yankee Workshop on Public Television." It took me a moment to pick up on the facetious nature of her statement. My first thought was, "If I'm the only person watching, they wouldn't have the rating necessary to sustain the show and it would be cancelled. Therefore, what she said is inaccurate."
I once received a letter as an attachment to an email. The sender of said letter wrote in their email, "Attached is a letter that will probably be difficult for you to read."
I read the letter and I was really, really confused. It was written in English. Everything except my last name was spelled correctly. Proper grammar and punctuation were observed. The letter used Times New Roman font, size 12. What about this letter was supposed to be difficult for me to read?
A business decision had been made that was not favorable to me. Oh well. Next steps, please!
It has taken me 30 years to develop some form of verbal filter. And anyone who knows me as an acquaintance will tell you I have no verbal filter. Those who know me well will tell you how much effort is put into recognizing situations where a verbal filter is necessary; they will also tell you how much thought and effort go into using this poorly established verbal filter.
On multiple occasions, Sheldon will ask, "Am I supposed to care about this?" "Oh, you weren't finished?" "This concerns me how?" "Oh, you expected me to listen?" and I think of all the times I have had to, and continue to have to, walk myself intellectually through the nature of empathy.
I love my books. I like most people. Loving people is an intellectual task that requires effort and energy. And in very few cases do I ever develop the emotional attachment to others that most people describe as feelings of "love." If I do, it generally takes awhile (read years).
Watching Sheldon is painful. Because it's a bit too much like watching myself under a microscope. And I wonder if people find me as comical as they do him, and if that might be less than favorable.