I’m gong to keep this quick, because I have an unbelievable amount of newly unfinished or newly planned posts.
I’ve not watched the Big Bang Theory in over a year. My friends flicked an episode on this week, which started with Sheldon having a quasi-romantic adventure with a woman. I assumed that this was the later series, with the relationship I’ve been told is readable as zucchini. It was, in fact, the first time I’ve ever watched the ‘Sheldon has no deal’ episode that’s famous in terms of canonical asexual representations.
It was hardly a bad outing. They referenced mitosis within seconds of the famous line, meaning ‘asexual’ was all but said. The speculation felt hurtful. Some of my friends pretend to indulge in that speculation when I’m present, in an amusing pastiche of bigotry. Others, I’m pretty sure, indulge in that speculation behind my back, genuinely erasing my identity and making me something weird and broken.
The part that really got to me this time was Sheldon’s insistance on a contract of friendship, for both sides to honour in its minutiae. I’d forgotten about this repeated joke during my blissful not-watching, but something in it brought back that time I almost cried when a friend read extracts from Barney’s book. Rather painfully. The book, in case you don’t know, is called the Bro Code, and reads very like a sexual, neurotypical, gender-essentialist version of Sheldon’s Roommate Code.
Barney and Sheldon are two of the major represented aromantics who aren’t magical aliens. I keep trying to positively re-appropriate them because they both have, to my warped view, an incredible depth- you can weave out of either of them a story of strength, coping strategies, positivity and ingenuity.
Which is why it hurts all the more when they do something you see as very reasonable, at least completely understandable, and you realise that the world is laughing at their coping strategies.
Sheldon and Barney desperately cling to a friendship bureaucracy because communication in their primary relationships is denied to them. Their rules speak right to the heart of aromantic needs- friendships with structure, support with commitment. They are a little ridiculous, but so eminently sensible.
And people keep on laughing.