When you are told every second that your response to every-day events is wrong – that you are WRONG (stop crying! I was just kidding! You’re fine, get up!) you become convinced of your wrongness. When you are sidelined from the family from birth, you become an edge dweller. And your oddness becomes exactly who you are. When you are forced to live mentally and emotionally outside of the center – you find yourself stretching and shrinking and folding and contorting to fit in the leftover spaces. The cracks behind, the spaces next to, the leftover areas that are pinchy and uncomfortable. Just to have someplace to live and breathe. You become a Gollum.
When you are forced to be odd in social settings (wearing the wrong clothes to school, bringing the wrong lunches. Never having a lunch. Being late to school every day and falling asleep in class) plus you were never taught to rely on your internal barometer of what is normal behavior, what behavior to emulate, what to avoid - you end up being ostracized and the oddness becomes infinitely more permanent. You find a way to get to be ok with being ALONE and odd, or you would go nuts. Or you do both. You never can figure out what is normal social behavior so you manufacture your own.
You don’t get invited to sleep-overs very often, except with the friends who have sympathetic parents and who know a kid doesn’t get to be so weird without HELP.
Soon (if you are me) you start to HATE anything normal, you love the odd. You wouldn’t take Davey Jones on a bet, but Michael Nesmith was YOUR Monkey. Danny Kaye and Dwight Yokum and Lyle Lovett become your champions – they are wonderful and weird and smart and have been forced to the fringe, just like ME. At first, it is anything different just for the sake of it. But then you realize that those people – they grew up with the same burdens you did and they are so much more YOU than any main-stream people. And it translates over to furnishings and collectibles and style.
Stuck in a 50's time warp - I love my living room
But you always feel how ODD you are. How very fucking different you are from every other person on the planet. And yeah – I feel a little superior sometimes too. Because I see things that people do not see. I am SO AWARE and it’s like they are all asleep and what in the hell are they good for?? I cannot be in a social setting with a bunch of people without NOTICING that they are so fucking stupid with their idiot conversations and their stupid romantic entanglements. They have no logic, no depth. They all like the same things, the same teams, the same books. They are all lemmings. How many times have I heard “you are SO weird!” from people. And ‘weird’ equates to ‘wrong’ every time. Nobody expects 'funny', they only want to hear the regular bullshit they hear every day. Next time someone asks you 'how are you?' in passing, instead of saying 'fine, answer 'hunky dory!' or 'Jim Dandy!' and watch how fast you take them out of their comfort zone. They (most people) actually hate it. HATE DIFFERENT. And they let you know.
It becomes a huge burden, being odd. It’s heavy and awkward and YOU are awkward everywhere and it always shows, like a streamer of toilet paper stuck to your personality, and sometimes you just wish you could be normal. Normal and boring and NOT DIFFERENT. But you’ve been odd for so long. A lifetime. And how can you UN-see? Different is now a way of life, a BADGE OF HONOR. But, maybe one day you decide you’ve had enough of being so left out all the time and you want to make an effort to change, to fit it. THERE IS NO FIT IN, btw, but you figure it should be relatively easy to pretend to fit in. After all, you did it in fits and starts your whole life. Every job started out great, you were NORMAL! But then, eventually, your oddness started creeping in and you can’t hold the act together for long so then you quit before you get fired (hopefully) and move on to another job/boyfriend… But so, you figure you will try, another time, here at 51-years old in this new place – you will try and see how it goes.
I was invited to a Bunco party about a month ago. This is where this all sort of started. It was a group of women from my apartment complex, getting together for some sort of dice game and food and chatting. FINE. Jeff looked askance! I bit down on every instinct I have and I went. It was hell.
These women – what in the fuck? They talktalktalk and chatter schmattah blah blah about NOTHING. But it comes out fast and furious. The woman in charge, you KNOW HER she is in charge of everything all the time. Short and trim and efficient. She has one of EVERYTHING you might need and she takes charge as if this Bunco game was important. There is lots of food everywhere and lots of LOUD TALKING and a frenetic dice game where people yell BUNCO! randomly and a timer *dings* and once in a while everyone gets up and moves tables like a Chinese fire drill ßthis was exactly the wrong kind of game for ME, I get that. But the people. They were idiots and creepy and weird and then once I talked to a woman who sounded really interesting but I realized she was having a lot of really big fun! at this thing and if she could talk to these people all night and like it then she wouldn’t be able to talk to me for 5 minutes.
Yes, I judged. I judged and they came up lacking and I was so upset because WHY can’t I just be happy and be normal and just let stuff go? Why do I have to BE SO ODD. I went home and CRIED because I must be a horrible human being, I can’t stand these perfectly normal people or their stupid dice game but THEY all can stand each other! Nobody else in that whole room looked fring-y. It was me, only me, lonely me. Poor poor pitiful ME. And, yes – they noticed I was weird and I hadn’t even DONE anything weird, I am marked for life.
My only point, I guess, is that – it really is a burden being so odd. Being so weird and KNOWING I am so different. I see regular folks doing regular things but I can’t join in really, because – why? Tell me – why can’t I just be regular. I DO have friends who get me. I DO. My friend France back in San Diego, she GETS ME and that was so surprising, so WOW because she is so quiet and demure and she saw me. Really SAW me.
Jeff – the saint. He is odd also, he knows it, we know it. His parents will never win any good parenting award, to put it in a nutshell (ha ha nutshell). He says we are eccentric. I say we don’t have enough money to be called eccentric. We hang out together a lot alone because we think the same things are funny and I never have to explain my brain to him. My son I raised in my own image, har, so he has no choice but to get me. But I know he feels odd too, since he was raised to think that sort of thing is comfortable and normal. He will have to fight that his whole life too. My eldest sister, surprise surprise, is one of us also.
Alexis and I in St. Michaels
I know you have all written about this – what I call our Super Powers. Hyper vigilance, hyper awareness. That we think dark humor is the ONLY humor. So now, through you all, I have realized that childhood abuse creates this. ALL childhood abuse - and there IS some comfort in knowing I am not the only one. But, we are all acquainted from the comfort of our own homes – we aren’t actually HANGING OUT – I don’t think we could even take EACH OTHER for very long. I am a hermit. Are all of you hermits too? It is the only way for me to survive, I am very serious here. I require quite a bit of alone-time. I need to NOT be around people. They do not understand me, and I am SO tired of trying to explain myself or to fit in.