I met my Tennyson, my fiance, on OK Cupid. There is always a stigma with saying that, but I digress. We clicked on each other’s profiles and thought “hey, this can’t be too bad.” He was however not the first date from the Cupid. I had been on a handful of dates that ended up being flops of the grandest type. Mainly, I wasn’t looking for a hook up, so I was never contacted again.
I decided while taking on the dating world, that I was going to be upfront and honest as possible. To make sure there were no surprises as the relationship progressed. I figure if they couldn’t handle my truths, they couldn’t handle being in a relationship with me. Lots of people think they can handle autism until they actually have to deal with it. Sadly people are afraid of the word itself, and don’t have any interest in learning about it.
Along with being up front about my diagnosis and past, Tennyson was also up front about his brain injury in his profile. And we proceeded to have online conversation for a few days before deciding to go on a first date. He picked the restaurant, I picked the entertainment.
We met for dinner at Danny Trejo’s Cantina in Hollywood. I introduced him to my dog, we had dinner and margaritas. He shared about his brain injury and the struggles he has had. I talked about being autistic and what it meant for me. He even said “don’t we make a perfect pair?” Which I laughed off. I didn’t want to get ahead of myself.
After dinner we went to a movie. I had free tickets to a pre-screening at a studio in Hollywood. The movie was Please Stand By. I had no idea what the movie was about or even who was in it, till we got there. Turns out Please Stand By was about an autistic girl, her special interests and the acceptance that she is a capable independent person.
The lead character, Wendy, played by Dakota Fanning had written a Star Trek script for a contest. And needed to get it to Hollywood. So she ran away from her caregiver to do this. Throughout the movie we witness an autistic meltdown, stimming, special interests, and the ritual and care put into making Wendy’s life. She even had a chihuahua in a bag, like me. The more we got into the movie, the lower I slunk down in my seat. It was a first hand look at what being autistic is like, and Tennyson was watching it on a big screen, whilst sitting next to me.
I really had expected him to bolt once the movie was over. But he didn’t. He stayed, and he hasn’t left since. He has learned the similarities that Wendy and I shared. But he has also learned the vast differences between all autistic people. No two autistics are the same.
So as first dates go, it was quite a slap in the face. But it ended up being one of the best things that could have happened. We are now engaged and looking forward to our wedding next September.