Recently, on a not-so-good day, a work colleague asked me how F is. I don't know her terribly well.
'He's good, thanks' I managed.
'And how's school? Does he like it?'
'Oh, not really.'
'Oh. Why? Is it his teacher?'
'Yes. I hate her.'
'Oh. Is she a yeller, is she?'
'No, she's just a bitch.'
'Yes. The other day I screamed at her. She told me that he wasn't having an emotional week even though F was diagnosed with Asperger's. She rolled her eyes at me.'
I glanced up to see the work colleague, someone I have known vaguely, in a pleasant 'what are you reading now?' kind of a way, for three years or so, looking back at me in blank horror.
I'd said too much.
I'm not sure if I drifted off or she did.
But at least I had a bit of an excuse: I was distressed. I was having a shit few weeks. I was aware, that day, I didn't have my shit together.
Last night, at a work gathering, I got chatting to a newish colleague I've never met before. He's been there for months, but as I'm so incredibly rarely in the office, our paths had never crossed. He seemed nice. We fell fairly easily into one of those bantering chats about nothing much.
Someone asked if I wanted a sandwich. I politely demurred. Another colleague, a very close friend of many many years who I can say anything to, made a joke.
'You didn't see them being made?'
The new colleague raised an eyebrow.
'I have a thing about sandwiches' I admitted. 'I can't eat them unless I see them being made. Or if I make them myself. And I can't eat unmelted butter. There's probably butter in them.'
'Is it a trust thing?' asks New Colleague.
He knows someone who can't eat anything unless they see it being made, can't even have pre-mixed drinks, but is fine if the food/drink is prepared by someone they really trust.
'No. It's because I don't like it being soggy. At all. I have to make it in a special way, like with lettuce on the outside, protecting things like tomatoes from touching the bread and making it soggy. And that way I know it's fresh.'
'Ah.' He makes another joke about his friend.
'Oh, well, I can still one-up you on that' I said breezily, buoyed by approximately three sips of wine. 'My dad went through a stage where he couldn't eat anything that wasn't prepared by my mother.'
'Was it a trust thing?'
'No. I don't think so. He's just very fussy and said that he knew she knew how to make things just the way he liked them.'
'That must be a problem.'
'Oh no, it's not like that's all he ever ate. He sometimes ate out I guess, at places he knew he liked. It was just most of the time.'
'I think that sounds like a trust thing.'
'No. Once mum left him ingredients to make a pizza and he made it and then he threw it out because it didn't taste right. That can't have been trust. She chose the ingredients. And it was himself.'
'So it was his way of getting her to do everything for him?'
'I don't think that was it.'
'So he washed his own clothes and stuff?'
'Hmmm, no. Not really. Once, while my mum was in hospital, he woke my sister at 6am to ask how to use the washing machine.'
'He looks after himself fine now.'
'Well, they separated.'
'So, that's how he got over it?'
'No. I think he just did somehow. I don't live in the same state as them, so I'm not sure what happened. I just went back for a visit and he wasn't doing that anymore.'
'So did he leave her or did she leave him?'
'Kinda both. I dunno. I guess they just grew apart. Or something.'
'I'm going to get another drink' said New Colleague.
I turned to Longstanding Friend. We looked at each other.
'I think I just scared him away' I said. 'I have no idea how or why I just told him all that.'
We laugh. Longstanding Friends are a Very Good Thing. They know you are crazy and they love you anyway.
* NOTE: If you read this, sorry dad! It's not you, it's me. Really. I know you're now a whiz in the kitchen and with the washing machine.