On the Spectrum

A while ago, Sara and I were listening to a story on NPR about a guy who discovered he had asperger syndrome. What was interesting was that Sara and I were having totally different reactions to the same story. The whole time I was listening, I was thinking, “Ugh, this is so annoying. I can’t stand it when regular, normal, everyday people claim to have some affliction that makes them different from everybody else. This is clearly an average person who wants to feel special.” Meanwhile, listening to the same story, Sara was thinking, “Oh my god I can’t believe what a weirdo this person is.”

This all came to light during a particular segment of the story. The man’s wife was describing how she was giving him a test to see if he had aspergers, and she came to a question that said, “Do you think about making traps?” She was absolutely convinced it was a typo, because the question didn’t make any sense, but her husband immediately answered, “Yes!” Everyone on the program had a good laugh over that one.

“This is so stupid!” I exploded. “Who doesn’t think about making traps?”

Sara looked at me in bafflement. “You think about making traps?”

“Of course I do.” Now it was my turned to be puzzled. “You don’t?”

“What kind of traps? Like for trapping…people?”

“No. I don’t know, any kind of traps,” I said. “Like how they work and if you could make them, or like if you were out in the wilderness if you could actually outsmart an animal and catch it. I mean, I don’t think about this all the time, but it crosses my mind.”

“I…do not think about making traps.”

“Not ever?”

“Not ever.”

This got me thinking that perhaps I was a weirdo after all. Obviously, however my brain worked would seem normal to me, so maybe I was a little asperger-y too. Maybe I identified with this guy a little too much.

A couple of days later, I was working with my brother in the garden.

“Do you ever think about snares?” he asked. “Like, how they work? I can’t really figure out how you could build one that would actually catch an animal.”

“Just a minute,” I said. “Hey Sara, could you come over here for a minute?”

Sara came over to stand with us in the garden.

“Nathan, do you ever think about making traps?”

“Yeaaaah…” he said suspiciously. “That’s what I was just asking you about.”

“You guys are unbelievable,” said Sara.

At this point, we started to speculate that maybe this was just a difference between men and women. Maybe some hidden hunter-instinct, long buried in men’s psyche, caused us to think about traps.

“No way,” said Nathan. “Rachael definitely thinks about traps.”

I decided to follow up on his hunch. It did seem highly likely that our sister had spent some time thinking about traps. I don’t know if this makes sense, but it somehow seemed like it would be in character. If so, maybe it’s familial rather than gender-based. I called her up.

“Hey, I’ve got a question for you. Do you ever think about making traps?”


“Yeah, you know. Do you ever think about them?”

“What kind of traps? Like for trapping…people?”

“No, I don’t know. Any kind of traps. Just for trapping things.”

Rachael was decidedly suspicious about this line of questioning. “Why would I think about making traps?”

“This definitely counts as a no!” shouted Sara in the background.

“No reason, I was just curious,” I said, and hung up.

So what’s the deal? Are Nathan and I on the spectrum? Is it a male/female thing? Do you think about making traps?

4 thoughts on “On the Spectrum

  1. I vote that it’s a gender thing. I never think about traps. Brandon actually made a snare out if string in our tree hoping to catch a thief raccoon. It ended up catching a barn cat. Yikes!


  2. What’s funny is: Jay asked me that question last night and I said “what do you mean? To, like, trap people?” A little creepy that women want to trap people…

    So I think that men are the hunters and think about that stuff and women are wired to find (read: trap) a mate… to do the hunting.

    Sometimes I do think about traps. But more like… how would I build a trap door to fend off intruders?


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