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I grew up privileged.  A silver spoon in my mouth.  Life was a bowl of cherries.  All my fights were handled by my butler.  Ok, I’m lying.  Sure, I didn’t go without food or clothing.  I was well fed and had to eat my vegetables.  A smart kid who did well in school.  I had skipped a grade and had lived in two foreign countries for four years by the time I was seven.  I had also traveled through Europe with my family and seen many countries and lived in Berlin for six weeks.

Life was hell for me most of the time.  Boys’ status is based on their athletic ability.  I’m autistic, but didn’t know it for almost my entire life.  I couldn’t even run properly til I was seven and someone showed me how.  I had merely shuffled as fast as I could.  And I’m brown-eyed and don’t track objects visually as well as blue-eyed boys do.  Baseballs.  I dropped a lot of them.  I also was afraid of the feel of a ball hitting my bat and of the drama in a baseball game when I was batting.  Autism caused that.  I was small for my age and I was two years younger than my classmates.  At recess, I was picked for teams either last or next to last.  Every single fucking day.  My low status was hammered in day after day after day, year after year.  Autism and having skipped a grade caused that.

I could box a little and I could wrestle.  My family had been a military family.  We moved a lot.  Every move resulted in me fighting all the kids near my age and size in the new locale.  I was usually smaller, but I won my share of fights.  I could take a lot of punishment and I grew up tough.  By the time I was five, I had punched a kid and knocked him through the window of a restaurant kitchen.  He was my age and I fought both him and his sister concurrently.  She was two years older than me and bigger.  The sister ran away whenever I turned to punch her.

When we moved into the city where I grew up from seven on, I was a tough kid.  Good thing, because my neighborhood was blue collar and tough.  One kid in my elementary class was executed for murder.  Another went to prison for armed robbery.  I had to deal with bullies, too.  The kid who went to prison was one of the bullies.  He teamed up with an even bigger kid to take my lunch money.  Eventually, I told my mother I wasn’t going to school.  She wanted to know why.  I explained about the two bullies.  She said I had to go anyway.  I said, “Ok, but I’m going to get on the roof and drop bricks on their heads.”  My mother went to the principal and the bullying stopped.  The bullies taunted me for squealing, so I told them what I had been planning to do to them.  No more taunting.

I wrestled with my brother almost every day for a few years of elementary school.  I developed a strong core from that.  He was younger, but big for his age, while I was small for mine and lacked coordination.  It was a pretty equal contest.

Another thing that I lacked for most of my childhood–a dad in the house.  My parents divorced when we moved to the States at seven.  Dads teach boys a lot.  Athletic ability.  Machines.  Cars.  Fixing stuff.  Missing out on learning athletics was especially painful.

I was academically gifted.  I was nearsighted and wore glasses.  An egghead to my classmates.  And an athletic dud.  Low status.  Someone to take advantage of.  So I got in some fights.  Not many boys would try to bully me.  I was a rogue.  Surprisingly, my classmates elected me to a post over someone I thought was much more popular.  I consistently underestimated my popularity in school.

When I first arrived in my neighborhood, two boys fought me at the same time, to begin with.  They had come around to see the new kid and size him up.  Standard stuff.  Both were bigger and one was older and much more coordinated.  I fought them both ferociously.  Eventually, the older kid gave up and just stayed out of reach.  I taunted him, but he just laughed.  The younger kid was very tough and wouldn’t give up.  He got on top of me and was pounding my face with his fists and holding my shoulders down and telling me to give up.  I wouldn’t.  I kept trying to pull him off of me using my feet and squirming.  He resisted all attempts and we both tired of this fight.  The boy eventually said that if I gave up, we could go play football.  That sounded like fun, so I agreed.  Technically, I had given up, but actually I had been bribed.  That boy and I became best friends during elementary school.  He was the toughest kid in my elementary school.  I had some status with my neighborhood friends.  They would come around my house to get me to come play with them.  Every single day.  Even if I was picked last for teams, I had status because I could fight and beat up some kids.  Even bigger kids.

I didn’t talk well in group conversations growing up.  Autism.  And I always felt like an outsider.  I had trouble figuring out a lot of social lessons.  Autism.  I could sell Christmas cards and cookies door-to-door.  I sold two hundred boxes of cookies this way in my neighborhood one summer.  I gained confidence to approach strangers and open them and ask them to buy.  This came in handy later doing pickup.

I went to junior high school.  I was small and much weaker than my classmates in gym class and much more poorly coordinated.  One of the last picked for dodgeball, which I enjoyed.  Still, I got more than a few of the other, stronger boys out using good tactics.  My teams tended to win.  And I finished in the middle of the mile run.  Not a good time, but I wasn’t anywhere near last.  I felt good about that.  Gymnastics was a disaster for me.  I couldn’t do flips because of poor coordination.  Autism.  And I couldn’t do handstands because I was too weak.  I was much younger.  I was considered an egghead and the other boys thought that I was a coward, so a group of them approached me when I was alone and one of them told me to suck him.  That boy had the body of a man.  Lots of muscles.  He was short, but outweighed me by fifty pounds.  I refused his demand and prepared to fight him.  He was shocked and so were the other boys.  They had expected me to beg.  Nope.  There was no fight and the other boys decided that they liked me.  Status gained from fighting.  The story of my life.  Fights where I won were always against bigger kids.  Usually they were bullies.  And tough.  One kid was armed with a knife and I kicked the knife out of his hand.  He ran away and I kept the knife.

High school.  Wrestling in gym class.  Cool.  I learned some tricks and won a few matches.  I was never totally overmatched in my weight class.  I always got some points, despite being weaker and much younger.  My coordination was improving.  And my strength.  I was a little taller–I had grown six inches in six months, though I was still short.  I had hit puberty.  Autism was becoming less of a factor.  I kissed two girls that year and went on one date.  Both were pretty.  I went out for football my sophomore year and broke my wrist falling.  I was very small and it was a ridiculous idea.  But I was tough and could take punishment.

Away to school.  All boys boarding school in a small town.  No girls in town to speak of.  Girls were bussed in from other schools.  Some were from all girls boarding schools.  We might see them once or twice a year.  It was obvious what was going down.  Pickup.  Same night action or zilch.  The girls knew this, too.  We were in a room dancing.  Sometimes I asked a girl to go outside with me and we made out.  If they weren’t compliant when we were outside, I brought them back and found another girl.  Girls liked me pretty well.  The boys, not so much.  The boys tended to ridicule me and I fell for their social tricks.  But I was learning.  One disturbed boy pushed down on the bar when he was spotting for me and I was doing bench press.  I was able to push both the bar and his weight up.  Adrenaline.  He left school.  I goofed around with a soccer ball with some kids and realized that my coordination had improved a lot.  I played intramural soccer and had fun.

Back to my home town my senior year.  I joined the swim team.  I could swim well, but I wasn’t strong enough to be very competitive.  Still, I had fun and the girl timekeepers were friendly.  Only one date my senior year.  I didn’t go to Prom.  I hung out with my friends who were very cool.  Cruising in a car on the strip listening to country music.  Pointing out girls and flirting.  Stealing political signs to spam the yard where a girl lived whom one of the boys liked.  I learned a lot about people and felt like I belonged.  They were popular with girls but I hadn’t learned enough social skills to be able to interact well with people at parties, so I was excluded from the parties.  Still, they knew that I had done pickup and that gained me status.

I graduated and got my own apartment.  One girl liked me, but she wanted to marry so she could move out of her parents’ house.  I told her, “No thanks.”

Away to college.  I was able to tackle a soccer ball away from a South American varsity player when he challenged all comers.  My coordination had improved a lot.  I had confidence around girls.  I made out with a few girls and had a fling my freshman year.  I had chased a stalker/potential rapist away when I was walking that girl to the bus.   He was much bigger, but I had surprised him from shadows and had a club.  She doubtlessly had seen me as a badass, despite being small and below average strength.  Funny, I was.  I would have hit him with the club if he had attacked me.  I was tactical and used surprise and a weapon to mitigate my size and strength deficit.

I was invited to join a fraternity.  One of my frat brothers wanted to spar with me–slap boxing.  He was about twenty pounds heavier and had reach on me and some strength.  I wanted to give up after a while, but he would have none of it.  I had taken Tae Kwon Do for two months and had learned how to kick.  I kicked him and ended the fight.  He wasn’t seriously hurt, but he went to the doctor because he was in pain for a few days.  My frat brothers called me a badass.  I gained some friends and played foosball and bridge a lot.  Acceptance and I was learning social skills.  My coordination improved vastly.  I was quite skilled at foosball and could stay on the table a long time.  Losers left the table.  The impact of autism was diminishing rapidly.  I was developing. Autism slows development, but it doesn’t stop it, especially for people who have a milder version.