The Sister

Midge bounced on the couch while watching SportsCenter in the waiting room, bouncing in time to the pseudo-rock tune. It wasn’t unlike watching a basketball on a highlight reel.

“I don’t know why you love ESPN, Francis. It’s the same thing over and over again.”

“That’s your opinion. Besides, I don’t mind. It’s MY brain, anyway.”

“Whatever. What took you so long?”

BOING BOING

“I had to jack off, okay? Let’s go.”

Of course I didn’t jack off. It’s hard to jack off when you think you’re about to be in a room filled with elderly women reading magazines with headlines that read, “Living with Autism”. It’s also hard when someone outside the bathroom door thinks she can create new age music with furniture.

BOING BOING SQUEAKY

“Shut the fuck up, sis!”

“Fuck you too, asshole. I haven’t seen my brother in years and this is what I get.”

A few hours later I find myself outside Shrink Central lighting one up trying to stay calm. In this place, furniture music gets to your nerves quicker than a grace note on a libretto. Inside, more people can be found trying to make furniture music. It’s an impromptu recital of the mentally fucked up.

I douse my cigarette just before the opening of the fifty-first act. Just then, my sister walks out the shrink’s door, looking for all the world as if she belongs in this nutroom (it’s too small to be a nuthouse).

“So, what did the doctor say?”

“Nothing.”

“I find that hard to believe.”

“He said I was clean. It’s you he wants to talk to.”

She says it like it’s my fault we’re here, but she knows it isn’t. She just wants to torture me this way.

The hardest thing about living with autistic people is other non-autistic people. Autistic people tend to have no sense of propriety or volume, so each and every interesting conversation inevitably turns into a shouting match.

This becomes a problem when people start staring at you, wondering what our problem is. When you know the answer to that unspoken question but can’t say it, it’s hell on earth. If I had a choice, I wouldn’t travel with an autistic person, even if in this case it were my own sister.

Unfortunately, some people don’t have that choice. Some people like me.

“How mild is mild?” I ask Mr. Shrink as I enter. It feels like I’m asking how spicy the Thai-Szechuan Curried Habanero Chili Chicken in Super Hot Spicy Restaurant it gets. It’s the one with the three chilies. Last time I got it the server asked me thrice if I was really sure. Of course I couldn’t feel my lips for the better part of that day, but that’s not the point. It’s not fun when the shit’s about to hit the fan and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.

“Do you want candy or pepper?” Doctor Zhivago sure has a knack for understatement. I figure any option with the word brutal in it isn’t good no matter how you look at it.

“Does it matter?”

“That’s not for me to say.”

“Give it to me straight, then.”

I know I should be feeling something else, but at that moment I was quite the happy man. I have come to realize that having my unmistakably unprofessional opinion seconded by a leading shrink can be quite the rush.

“You’re taking this better than I thought.”

“Yeah. You’re not the one living with Frankenstein’s monster.”

“You might want to check the brochure outside. It’s called ‘Autism for Adults’. I think it will help you adjust to her mood swings”.

No duh.

We take the bus. On the way back, she decides the ride’s a little too quiet so she takes out her MP3 player and puts on Dina Bonnevie’s Bakit Ba Ganyan. Within minutes, she’s singing along quite loudly.

She sucks.

When you sing along to some song while using a headset, you’ll be slightly off key. It’s a rule. A DJ-slash-album producer-slash-pot supplier friend of mine told me so. The way she’s singing, you’ll wonder if she believes she’s the exception to the rule.

Well, she’s not, and by the end of the song, her arms are flailing, diva-style. Just then, she grins. The cursed thing is on repeat.

“Oh-hoh. Ewan kohhh, bakit ba ganyaan…”

Well, it might not be cursed right now, but I’m sure by the time I step off the train, it will be. I can feel the number of evil eyes multiplying by the second.

“Magmulaaaa nang kitaaa’y makilaaalaaa….”

I do my best trying to look like I’m not with her.

“Kiko, don’t you love this song?”

It’s not working.

As soon as we get home, Midge switches on the telly. There’s an article on paranoia on the telly. Some guy who thought he was someone else did something that caused him much grief later. It’s quite similar to Royette Padilla’s H-World crap.

“I’m glad I’m not like that guy. He’s sick.”

It takes one to know one, I guess.

Midge left her apartment half a year ago and disappeared for a while. The apartment was paid for, at least as far as we knew, but it turns out that she was three months late on her payments. We tried to pay for her rent, but her landlord wouldn’t have any of it, even if I was her brother.

Anyway, when it became clear that Midge wasn’t coming back, the landlord let us take Midge’s stuff. Said she had a new tenant coming in and didn’t want the hassle of cleaning up all that junk. So we took all of her stuff and put it in the garage, but not before I cleaned out her CD collection.

Midge returned a month after we took her stuff and demanded that we return her old stuff to her. It’s hers, she cried, and promptly took all her stuff back to her new apartment, except for her old CD’s. None of us complained because you don’t want to mess with a 26 year old throwing a tantrum.

Fortunately for me, she never did ask or look for her old CD’s. I hope she thinks that the landlord got to them. I bet if she found out it was with me she’d charge into my bedroom and get all my CD’s.

So I’m going to shut up about them now, before she ever finds out. Finders keepers, losers weepers, she used to say… which would be fine except that no one can stand her weeping (aka really bad tantrum throwing).

I got rid of the last of Midge’s junk CD’s just last month, thanks to the Internet and to Midge’s spectacular taste in music. It took quite a while for someone to pick up that Aegis CD, but someone finally did. To my surprise it was some long-haired punk rocker. He seemed so happy when I gave it to him practically for free.

Just yesterday, I got a thank you note in my e-mail. It was a large thank you note, seeing that it had a large attachment on it.

It was an MP3 file of what I recognized as an Aegis song, coming from the guy who got Midge’s CD. At first, I thought he made a mistake. I sold him the CD for chrissake. There had to be a reason I wanted to get rid of it real bad.

Turns out punk metal dude’s a sound engineer experimenting with some new drum machine he got for Christmas. The result was actually funky. Aegis on Acid, he called it, like it was some Stars on 45 album.

I better get what he’s having. Must be some pretty powerful shit.

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