For two weeks after I first read The Bell Jar I went around convinced that my natural summer holiday laziness was the first sign of an overwhelming depression that would end in my killing myself (not that I would have minded, if it had meant that I also had a third of Plath's talent). I've watched As Good As It Gets three times, and each time the similarities between me and the character played by Jack Nicholson just seem to get more uncanny (I wasn't the only person who thought this by the way - the year the film came out practically all of my friends came back and said how much that Melvin Udall guy reminded them of me). When the New York Times ran an article about Seasonal Affective Disorder I was convinced I suffered from it, until I realized that I'm depressed through most of the summer too. I suspect the truth is that I've always suspected, deep down, that there's something wrong with me, so every time I see an explanation I just naturally latch on to it.
It was with some trepidation, therefore, that I started to read Tim Page's piece about growing up with Asperger's Syndrome in last week's New Yorker (not, alas, available online). For a while the evidence was equivocal. Okay, so I get obsessed about things. Okay, so I tend to compensate for my complete lack of athletic ability by developing obscure interests and amassing vast amounts of arcane knowledge . Okay, so I'm socially clueless and inept. But I've never had trouble concentrating on anything, even if I wasn't in the least interested in it. And I was always good at school.
Then I got to this line and experienced that terrible deja vu like feeling of having your own life described by a total stranger:
"I suffer little stage fright when it comes to public speaking or appearances on radio and television, but I continue to find unstructured participation in small social gatherings agonizing. It would be easier for me to improvise an epic poem at a sold-out Yankee Stadium than to approach an attractive stranger across the room and strike up a conversation."
Yes, exactly. Ah, well. At least now I know what's wrong with me. At least until something more plausible comes along.
UPDATE: The article's now available.
 In the article, Page remembers reacting to a muffed attempt at playing kickball thus:
"So?" I wanted to scream. "There are things I know; things that I can do. Can you name the duet from La Boheme that Antonio Scotti and Geraldine Farrar recorded in Camden, New Jersey, on October 6, 1909? What was the New York address of D.W. Griffith's first studio? How many books by David Graham Phillips have you read? Who was Adelaide Crapsey? I learned to play the entire Chopin Prelude in E minor in a single night!"