Aye, eye contact.

I believe in the future of farming, with a faith born not of words, but of deeds.

Thus began a creed recited quite a few times during my brief stint in the FFA (Future Farmers of America). 

The rest of that time was spent studying breasts. 

Studying breasts is boring.  Very boring.  Udderly boring.  Thus my terrible performances at the dairy judging events. 

Er…there was a point to this post…oh yes!  Another great link from the Blogfather:

Makin’ bacon

Okay, that’s callous.  But there’s a reason folks will buy someone else’s pig then sell that very same person their own, roughly equivalent pig.  People get attached. 

The acceptance that animal companions will be slaughtered and consumed is a  big difference between county folk and city folk.  Ms. Trunk, the writer of this beautiful piece, surely understands both types.  And what prose!  She’s an amazing writer.  Simple statements are woven to evoke complex reactions.

And now I wonder where on the autism spectrum your poor little wormme falls.  Why?  In the competitions she describes, it’s very important to make eye contact with the judges.  Ms. Trunk’s son has Asperger’s, as evidently Ms. Trunk does herself.  And,

For someone with Asperger’s, eye contact is awkward, overwhelming, and extremely tiring.

Yes.  It’s the best description I’ve seen for what it feels like to lock gazes with another person past a split second.  Don’t you folks realize you’re staring into another soul?


Now, I won more staring contests than I lost, back in the day.   But ocular combat allows me to dismiss your humanity.  And then the spot of your eye matters no more than a spot on the wall.  

(As far as staring down animals, my single defeat will bug me forever.  Never get drawn in if you have plans for the immediate future.  Because Buck don’t care.)

But in all normal, human instances?  If anything, Ms. Trunk fails to convey the staggering weight and power of eye contact.  It is exhausting, overwhelming.  

It provokes an Olympian “fight-or-flight” response.  

It doesn’t just feel like a positive feedback loopIt is a freakin’ positive feedback loop.   How often do you grab an electric fence with both hands?  That’s about how often I sustain eye contact.

That’s my symptom, so what’s the prognosis:  will I ever be able to play the piano again?

But seriously, on my list of crippling social handicaps, “shy eye” is a big one.  You’ll judge that I’m furtive, or arrogant, or uncaring and distant, not that I have a major and all-but-uncontrollable reaction to looking you in the eye.

It is a terrible, terrible social handicap.  But I wonder whether it’s all the eye-gazers who are really the afflicted.  Perhaps us Asperger sufferers, or whatever the heck I am, merely see things the way they are.   I view the physical universe with great appreciation.  I marvel at the myriad beauties of our world and the immense grandeur of star and galaxy.  On occasion or two have even felt mild awe.

Then I look you in the eye and am profoundly shaken. 

Part of me screams that I behold a Prince or Princess of the Universe.  A Being of ineffable scope and dimension.  An Entity whose power and potential eclipses sun and quasar and supernova and all the material realm.

I see a Person.

Don’t know what the heck you guys are seeing.

About wormme

I've accepted that all of you are socially superior to me. But no pretending that any of you are rational.
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12 Responses to Aye, eye contact.

  1. D.J. says:

    Just read the first of the Dresden Files, and I note that harry doesn’t like to look people in the eye for fear of a) what he’ll see, and b) what they’ll see in him. Soulgazing works both ways, you know.

  2. MAW says:

    What will the NLRB do to a wealthy obama supporter who turns on heat lamps to thwart union protestors in the bastion of all things liberal and union Chicago?
    Wake up union members. Today its hotel workers tomorrow its you.

  3. thepi says:

    I have the same problem looking people in the eye…anything more than a glance at the eyes feels the same as if we were both naked to me. The only way I can deal with it is the idea that the other person probably doesn’t feel the same.

  4. Xpat says:

    We each have our exquisitely excruciating crosses, Worme. You’re alright.

    Anyway, there must be a reason God made sunglasses.

    Have been and will be out for some time, but I drop by to read sometimes. Shoot some heavenward for me and mine if you think of it.

    • Xpat says:

      Sorry, did that even makes sense? I meant I’ll probably not be commenting for a while but still visit WORM. Also, could use a little prayer.

      What do I see when I look people in the eyes? I guess you basically just see different attitudes in people–or think you see them, because interpretations could always be wrong. Curiosity, friendliness, insecurity, shyness, distracted indifference, contemptuous indifference, warmth, aloofness, hostility, distrust, all kinds of stuff. I don’t think the eyes necessarily tell you that much–there is so much other body language and facial expression it’s almost like the eyes themselves (minus eyebrows and all) are the least revealing. And if you actually talk the person later or get to know them better, you find out your interpretations of them were wrong. Plus, if the eyes at any given time at best just reflect a momentary mood or attitude, how much can that really tell you? Plus, there’s the “inscrutable” East Asian thing, which is not totally off, though I think it applies more to guys than to gals. The Asian guys do tend to hold ‘um pretty close to their chest.

      I am not one to claim I can size up a person right off the bat. I tend to doubt people who do claim it.

      The awe you describe of encountering the “Personhood” of a given person is itself a pretty awesome gift, and probably the eye part is the least important aspect. Offhand, I’d say you have a profound sense of other people, and the anomolous part is your focus on eyes. My interactions at this level are much more superficial–I tend to project stuff and make the encounter (in one way or another) all about me. Just a selfish, self-absorbed neurotic. I would consider you my superior here. My eye contact is nothing to brag about!

      • wormme says:

        Your comment made sense.

        Most people are lousy at “sizing someone up”, witness con men and Ponzi schemers. OTOH, on the rare occasions I’ve been dead certain about someone, have never been wrong. But that’s more the extreme quality of those rare individuals, whether good or bad. It’s a spiritual quality.

  5. I read a couple books on Aspergers after The School evaluated one of mine for it. Result: inconclusive but wanted to evaluate again. I said no for a couple of reasons, one being after Yet Another Parent Teacher Meeting, hubs was like, I’d be more concerned except it sounds like they are describing my wife.

    Apple, tree, and all that.

    I had hoped maybe the shoe would fit me too, because Aspergers = social ineptitude = Never Sorry For Putting Foot In Mouth EVAH. Again. But if I have it, I cope too well to claim it.

    Such beautiful words, Wormy. Bit of an irony: what you describe as a “terrible, terrible social handicap” sounds so beautiful when you use your talent for the written word.

    • wormme says:

      Well, thank you very much for the compliment, Linda. I won’t deny I’ve been given an incredible talent.

      Which makes the waste of it so much the worse, doesn’t it?

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