The Presumption of Subtext

by maximusaurus

You know what’s really hard? To say something without conveying unintended subtext. I swear, it’s like trying to do open heart rocket surgery while wearing boxing gloves.

I see a lot of talk about how difficult it can be for those of us on the spectrum to detect and interpret the implied subtexts in what others say, but personally, I find it just as challenging to communicate with others without them reading too much into what I say.

You know those assignments in High School where you’d be studying a book, and you’d get a homework question like this:

Page 113: ‘The Sky was a deep blue’. What does Darles Chickens mean by this?

  • He was filled with optimism for the future.
  • Forgiving Richard had restored meaning to his life.
  • He was still in love with Hilda.”

Well, when it comes to the way I talk, the answer is usually: (D) The bloody sky is bloody blue.

About 95% of what I say is intended as straightforward and literal, the other 5% of the time consisting of awful jokes and puns. I almost never make subtle implications, it’s just too much hassle. I say what I mean, and I mean what I say. If I want to ask you something, I will ask it. I won’t use subliminal signals where good old fashioned words would work far more efficiently. Similarly, if you want to know something from me, just ask. I promise I don’t bite.

Trying to read implied subtext into everything I say is a bit like listening for Morse code in the sound of rain of a tin roof. It’s an exercise in futility, and a bigger waste of time than making a belt out of wristwatches.