3 Years of Wild, Uncensored, Boundless Passion


And that's pretty much how it's gone

If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins. ~Benjamin Franklin

I’ve debated whether I want to put tags like “Jessica Alba naked” or “coeds spring break” on Prawn and Quartered just so I could up my stats. In the end I decided that was unethical, like a carnival huckster trying to get rubes inside a freak show for fifty cents to see a perfectly ordinary horse with four legs. Not only was it unethical but, well, it just felt wrong.

Today, as it turns out, I have a chance to talk about the meaning of passion along with my erstwhile Special Interest. That’s always a good combination for an Aspie. It’s like Sweet Baby Ray’s barbeque sauce and slow-cooked pork, or warm water and hurricanes. They just go together.

Three years ago, I pulled out a dusty VHS tape and gave The A-Team a try. I was hooked immediately. Why my parents never let me watch it as a kid, I’m not sure. (It could have been me trying to build a portable detonator as a Girl Scout project. Maybe it was in my blood already.)

These guys changed my life. No, really.

My obsession/special interest/passion has waned a bit since then. It’s a natural cycle which usually lasts 1-5 years. (Yes, I have kept track.) Am I a little sad? Yeah. Read my earlier post about breaking up if you don’t believe me. At the same time, I’m also kind of relieved. I don’t have to watch my favorite foursome blow up cars and shoot AR-15s fruitlessly at evil mobsters or cowboys just to get through the day. Now I just watch whenever I feel like it. Usually, it’s to introduce someone else to the magic of early 1980s action television.

“How,” some of my friends have asked me, “could this happen? I mean, you never talk about Murdock anymore.”

I do, just not as much as I used to. Instead, I’ve used my love of The A-Team in other ways. I’m still working on my book How The A-Team Saved My Life, which may or may not ever get published, but it’s a goal. I write less fan-fiction and more blogs and essays, honing my craft and setting my sights on a career as a writer. I see the big C-130s and the little Cessna trainers flying low over my house and I think, “Why not me?” I see my AS as not a liability, but a potential great asset, and a chance to help others on the spectrum.

It’s cheesy, and probably too simplistic, to think that an old TV show made me into a better or stronger or more outgoing person in three years. On the other hand, let me look at some of the things I’ve been able to do since I started watching The A-Team:

* In 2009, I went alone to a convention just to say “thank you” to two of the show’s cast members.

* I’ve made friends with people on every continent but Antarctica; people I’d have never known had it not been for a shared interest. Not just that, I’ve made the initial contact sometimes, which I’d have never done in the past.

* I’ve stopped saying “impossible” and substituted “well, why not?”

* Dating seems less like an insurmoutable hurdle after six years on the sidelines. I’m not quite there yet, but gaining confidence day by day.

* I’ve learned that for every person who feels that he or she is an outsider or a hopeless misfit, there are a dozen others. It’s a lot like mice: for every one you see, there’s many more you don’t. Luckily, thanks to the Internet, I’ve been able to meet many of them in person.

Find yourself a friend...they're worth their weight in gold

*My writing has improved, and I feel more comfortable sharing it with others. Maybe I’m not ready for the big leagues yet, but, as they say, practice makes perfect. I’ve been doing P&Q for almost a year now and I’ve learned a lot of things about writing.

* Fear is still there, but it’s not as overwhelming as it used to be. Simple tasks like going to the supermarket or attending a carnival used to be overwhelming to me. Now, I can silently ask myself, “This wouldn’t bother Murdock, would it?” I’m proud to say I haven’t had an “incident” in about a year.

* Mom’s old advice about “try it, you may like it?” Yeah, I’ve taken that to heart too. I’ve also discovered a little secret. Turns out I have room for more than one special interest at a time. Murdock and Company now share imaginative space with the crew of the starship Enterprise, Sam Beckett and Al Calavicci, among others.

* I understand one very important truth, which I’ll gratefully borrow from the film about Temple Grandin: I am different, not less.

I’m a little chagrined now that I have a couple boxes full of A-Team memorabilia which is slowly gathering dust. There are the exceptions, of course; my friend A.J.’s handpainted leather Murdock jacket is the centerpiece of my room and occupies a place of honor. As for the magazines, the action figures, the vintage ViewMaster? For right now they’re consigned to boxes from the liquor store. Two years ago I might have maimed anyone who even thought about taking them away or selling them on eBay. Now, they’re just More Stuff which I may need to sell or give to a good cause. Isn’t it funny how that works? I often talk to teenagers about their passions, whether it’s pop stars like Justin Bieber or something like skateboarding or horror movies. I remind them that their lifeblood now will more than likely be forgotten in a few years. That’s just the way things go.

"See this guy on the right? Yeah, he's expendable."

The strangest thing is (and yes, there will be an entire chapter in my future book) that Murdock’s fictional journey is a lot like mine. In his early years he was traumatized, then put away for a “lost decade.” In his early 30s he is depicted as a wild and crazy guy to rival Steve Martin at his zaniest. Then, as time goes by, he becomes more subtle, almost tragic, and finally embraces a life in the Real World. He can still be himself, be Howling Mad, but he doesn’t have so many worries anymore. And it’s not just me…this is a cleverly written metaphor for a creative soul who needs to walk the line between flights of fancy and day-to-day realities.

It’s now 2011, not 2008, and I know there’s a lot more work to be done. Maybe I’ll end up getting my master’s degree, and I might even take a crack at getting a pilot’s license. If The A-Team taught me nothing else, it’s that there’s no such thing as an impossibility. “Give my team six months,” says the film version of Hannibal Smith, “and we’re unbeatable.”

So, for the next three years, I’m gonna really and honestly focus on making a niche for myself in the Real World. I can still be a fan and watch my episodes now and then, like a fine wine taken from a cellar. The thing is, if you drink that wine too often, it’s just not special anymore. If you make it a treat, it’s a treat. Making it through an entire week (which can be challenging in itself for an Aspie) often dictates a treat.

And I’ll continue to draw on the collective strengths of my friends, my own Team. I couldn’t, and cannot, function as well as I do without all their help. That means all of them, including my readers.

Who knows what I’ll be, or what my life might look like, in 2014. I just know that it’ll be fun and challenging and unexpected. And yes, I’ll still watch The A-Team every now and then just to remind myself.

And I love it when a plan comes together!

Murdock is still waiting for the naked pictures

If you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to click “Like!” Got an idea for a future post? Send it my way!

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~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on June 1, 2011.

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