I was quite beside myself.  There I was in front of the big map at the rest area, complete with the “You Are Here” pin.  That’s was all!?  Holy shit.

When you live on Long Island, you don’t really get a sense of the scale of the rest of the country.  Here, driving for an hour takes you a long way – relatively speaking.  But after three hours of driving at 80 mph, I wasn’t even halfway across Pennsylvania yet.

Where was I going?  To see JBlondie, of course!  We’d spent several months talking online and she very nearly came to New York not too long ago, but things didn’t pan out.  I finally told her that if Mohammed won’t come to the mountain, then the mountain will come to Mohammed.  So I hopped in my car and I was on my way.  It took me 16 hours to get there, but it was worth every minute.

I underestimated the travel time. Instead of arriving at 10 or 11, I didn’t get to her place until sometime around 2AM.  Yes, her place.  I was couch surfing at her apartment.  She had two roommates, which meant I’d be spending the weekend with three hot girls.  Not a bad ratio at all.

I gave her a ring when I was outside, and she burst out of the door to her building shouting my name excitedly.  For a minute I thought she was going to bowl me over in her enthusiasm and I braced myself for the impact, but she stopped short of crashing into me and we gave each other a hug.  Gosh – if only more girls could be that excited to see me.

JB was just as energetic and bubbly as I thought she’d be.  She led me upstairs, informing me that her roommates still weren’t home despite the late hour.  Oh?  For a brief moment I wondered whether she had naughty plans, but when I saw my place set up on the couch I knew everything was kosher.

We chatted for a bit.  I regaled her with some of my stories, and she was a very good audience, laughing and exclaiming at all the right parts.  Her laughter was music to my ears.  It would be nice to have someone like her in my life on a regular basis; at the very least because she actually finds me funny.  After an hour of talking and a questionable-looking slice of pizza from the microwave, it was time for bed.  I’d brought some changes of clothes with me and we hung them up in her closet.  I wanted to make a crack like, “Oh, so is this what a girl’s bedroom looks like?”

I took a shower and fell asleep as soon as I hit the couch.  I didn’t wake up until around 1:30 the next afternoon.  We headed for this diner called Ed Debevic’s in Chicago, but we got lost along the way.  Of course I was of no help whatsoever.  I just kept a running commentary the entire time.  When she took a wrong turn and ended up in the ghetto area, I suggested she ask one of the local crackheads for directions.  When we saw a guy with crutches and one leg heading into McDonald’s, I dryly remarked that he should go to IHOP instead.

Finally we made it to Ed’s.  They have purposely rude staff, although when “The Love You Save” by the Jackson 5 came on they all jumped up on the counter and starting dancing.  A woman walked around making balloon animals, paper hats were passed out, and when we were leaving they yelled “Bye, losers!”  Very tourist-trappy, but I liked it.

Afterwards we took a walk along the waterfront.  Not the best idea.  It was very nasty and cold.  I see why they call it the Windy City.  At one point some dude came up and handed us a newspaper.  JB took it and kept walking, but he stopped us and said he was looking for donations.  No thanks, pal.  We kept walking, but not before he told us, “hey you guys look good together.”  Heh, I know.  I looked back at him and thought to myself that if he’s collecting money for charity, then he probably shouldn’t be digging in his ass.

During our walk, JB dropped her first observation on me.  She said I give off a “friend zone” vibe.  I don’t come off like someone who’s sexually interested.  Well… I have no idea what I can do to change that, or whether it’s possible to change that.  Perhaps if I’d had relationship experience (that wasn’t from twelve years ago) I’d come off differently.  But she confirmed what I’ve been feeling lately – this sense that girls just won’t see me as anything more than a friend.

Later that night I went on my first bar crawl/bar hopping experience.  I didn’t quite understand the logic in leaving a bar to go to another bar – which I see some of you like to do on dates – but I did my best to get into the spirit of things.  I’m still a novice to the art of drinking, and I downed whatever was handed to me.  By the time we got to the third bar I was starting to feel a bit silly and I started dancing around in front of the group.  Apparently that gave them the idea to take me to a club, because that’s where we ended up next.  I was handed another drink or two and then I was on the dance floor.  It wasn’t long before it got too crowded to dance comfortably, so I pulled back from the floor and people-watched instead.

Before I knew it the night was over and JB and I ended up at a Steak and Shake.  There she dropped her second and most important observation on me.

She thought I had Asperger’s.

Oh?  It it really struck me when she said it, because she actually has the credentials to make such an observation.  She pointed out how I met a lot of the criteria.  I challenged her on this at first, but when we got back home I did a little research on the matter. The more I read about it, the more I thought I recognized myself.

My swirling thoughts kept me awake for the longest time.  It certainly would explain a lot:  Why I’ve always struggled socially and failed at forming interpersonal relationships.  Why I don’t have many friends and why I always had trouble relating to my peers.  Why I was relentlessly bullied.  It explained my childhood obsessions: school buses, bus routes, channel guides, dates, addresses, numbers, stacking and organizing things…  When I was in high school I memorized the addresses and phone numbers of half of my graduating class, just for fun.

I had trouble believing JBlondie at first because I couldn’t understand how I could make it to 30 without anyone else noticing.  I do remember being called an “Ass Burger” a couple of times in middle school, but in my ignorance I thought they were using a gay slur.  And my parents got a letter from the school district when I was five.  The wanted me to repeat kindergarten and have me examined for special placement.  They said I was emotionally immature, I didn’t socialize with my peers, and I was easily distracted.  But I changed schools after that and I did just fine; nobody else ever suggested that anything was wrong with me.

Of course this is all still conjecture.  I have yet to get professionally diagnosed, which I suppose is the next logical step to take.  Except that if I wanted to bother with that, I have no idea how to go about it.  In the meantime…. I dunno.  Like I think she could be right, yet I also think I’m too self-aware for that to be a possibility.  Who knows.

Anyway – with all that running through my head, it was no wonder it took me so long to fall asleep.  I didn’t nod off until the sun came up.  I was glad to see JB again later that morning.  We walked around the complex with her dog and I peppered her questions.  I was probing, seeing how sure of her opinion she was.  She was pretty confident.

Before long it was time to leave, and I did so with much regret.  As she helped me carry my things to my car, I told her what a nice time I had with her.  The weekend had ended way too quickly.  I think I actually had more fun with her than with any of the girls I went on dates with.  We hugged goodbye and she wished me a safe trip.  Then she went inside and I started checking the fluids in my car.

A couple of minutes she reemerged from her building, calling my name.

“I’m going to kiss you!” she announced.  I was pleasantly surprised at this perplexing turn of events, but I wasn’t about to question it.  She came up to me and I put my hands on her hips.  I started to move in, but she made no effort to meet me.  Haha, whoops.  A bit eager on my part.  I backed off a little.  She grinned up at me, then cupped my face in her hands and kissed me.

It was really nice.

After we broke apart she said, “I knew it.  You’re a good kisser.”  I hope she wasn’t just saying that, because if that’s true then it’s pretty awesome considering how little practice I’ve had. We said goodbye and parted ways a second time.  I don’t know about her, but I certainly had a big grin on my face as I drove away.

I couldn’t help but wonder what prompted the kiss.  I suspect her roommates dared her or otherwise suggested it.  I imagined the two of them perched on the edge of the couch going, “Well?  Did you..??” when JB walked back in.

Either way, I’m certainly not complaining.  It was a lovey end to a lovely weekend.