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Excerpt from Sex, Cheese and French Fries

Chapter Eleven

Artistic Is One Letter Away from Autistic

Illustration by Jeannie Winston

Pierre loves to tell the story of when he first arrived in the United States armed with a load of hand-painted bedspreads he'd designed and had manufactured in India. This is how he and love-flame #2 (of clam feast fame) had planned to earn their living upon arriving here in the land of opportunity. One of his French expat acquaintances gave him the telephone number of a very hot potential client, who owned a store on then-thriving, stylish Melrose Avenue (now a hotbed of goth kids in black mohawks, black combat boots, black leather zip-up jackets, black nail polish, and black lipstick), and Pierre wasted no time in contacting her.

"When I got off the phone, the problem was I didn't know what time the appointment was, where it was, or how to get there," he says, laughing about his then near-total ignorance of the English language.

Eighteen years later, and just a few months ago, after getting off the phone with our friend (who has called to invite us to his wife's birthday party), Bonsoirno hangs up and has no idea what day the party is, what time it is happening, or where it is being held. He's still clueless — only this time, he can't use ignorance as an excuse.

Whether they're French or not, artists are given plenty of leeway when it comes to erratic behavior. Making socially unacceptable pronouncements, being unable to deal with the mundane aspects of practical day-to-day life, and a propensity for living in their own little world are all de rigueur.

Same goes for autistics. I can't decide which one I married.

Now, before anyone accuses me of insensitivity toward people who suffer from autism, let me say up front that I am dead serious about this theory. To me, it's just possible that but for one small, random, insignificant variation in brain function, an artist could easily fall over to the other side. Like the proverbial rolling stone, artists (and autistics) are impervious to the rules and restrictions that constrain the rest of us "normals." I swear I'm onto something here.

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