Friday, July 10, 2009


Ever since the end of public school, I thought the days of "being weird" were over. However, I seem to have a repetition compulsion, so I moved to a rural area where I'd be assured of always being an outsider and having to live with being "weird."

Shots from the land of being a weirdo:

One day a guy, who I knew had had a huge drug problem, told her girlfriend not to get tattooed by me because I was always high. I started laughing. I was never high! I had enough trouble without taking drugs on the job. I thought it the most absurd thing in the world. But, as funny as I thought it was, the guy was dead serious. He was convinced I was constantly stoned from my behavior, which was most assuredly weird. It finally dawned on me that that was all it was. My talk, my ideas, my entire demeanor, it was beyond his ken. I had to be a drug addict. And so I told him he mistook this all for being high. His girlfriend said I certainly didn't act like him, so I was fine. He skulked away, down a long flight of stairs, and one day came back to get a cover-up of one of his jailhouse tats, only to complain bitterly for years about what a bad job I'd done. I heard he was constantly scratching at it while it heeled. You'd think a junkie was used to itching, but no.

My neighbor's daughter called me weird one day after I told her I didn't like four-wheelers. She had told me I was weird before, and since, and most of this is because I speak in a soft voice and would prefer to stay inside, reading or making things. Reading is for school. Making things is for kids, and it's this latter one that seems to mystify her the most. Adults do not play. She has enjoyed playing with me, but sometimes adults do play with children. Alone, they should not. I suppose I should be sitting outside, doing nothing but drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. Isn't that what adults do?

I bought a big black and white hat the other day. It's wonderful, made out of one long piece of ribbon, and can be squashed into a multitude of shapes. I put on some fire engine red lipstick and played with the hat. I rather longed for the days when I had perfect skin, so finely pored and porcelain, and my lipstick didn't run into the small lines around my lips. Still, I had a bit of fun playing "dress up" for ten minutes. The thought wafted through my mind that I was still a silly young girl, but even sillier, for I'm well past an age to be playing in front of a mirror.

But no matter, I was enjoying myself, even with the touch of sadness, and I liked the hat. I imagined wearing it while walking to the General Store, and that made me realize, of course, that when I do wear it inside that place, there will certainly be talk afterwards. Just a simple slightly odd hat can cause others around these parts to see one as an outsider, a bona fide weirdo.

Recently, a woman I know told me I was like a chameleon. I was dressed conservatively, and she thought I looked nice. But, she found it bewildering how I could dress in so many different ways, like a chameleon (as I wrote), fitting in anywhere by dressing the part. The truth is, I suppose I don't fit in anywhere. As for dressing the part, that's what others see it as. I'm not. I like to wear all sorts of things. I have no set "style." Again, I suppose I'm just playing. Clothes are fun. I'm glad I haven't developed such a firm sense of my identity that I took to wearing the same type of clothes for an entire lifetime.

How this makes me weird, I both understand and don't. I understand that most people congeal into a fixed state somewhere between 18 and 23. Sometimes they have some big upheaval, generally called a mid-life crisis, and take to doing and wearing inappropriate things. But, why this need for such rigidity? I don't understand that, but it seems to me, in this society, if one isn't rigid, the epithet "weird" will be given to you, and that will stick forever.

Thankfully, I am not weird to myself. I feel normal, even if I'm judged to be not by standards that are terribly confining. Luckily, I see a therapist who's not exactly normal himself, and doesn't find my saying that I'm "existentially fine" to be an odd statement, nor does he insist on confusing normalcy with conformity.

Image note: Salvador Dali - one of the diptych "Couple with Clouds in their Head", 1936. I find this image more compelling than most of Dali's work, which I have little appreciation for.

Salvador Dali is "weird", self-consciously so. His kind of cultivated weirdness puts me off. It always has done. There is something totally conformist about weirdness that is so calculated, and yet, those that are famous for their being oddballs continue to carry on this tradition, giving people what they crave in being so outlandishly "other." Perhaps this is why people still loved Michael Jackson, for we love our so-called freaks so much. I suppose they make the rest of us feel normal. What a shame we need to be reassured in such a manner.

A character in Nick Laird's "Glover's Mistake" said "Salvador Dali is an artist for those whom I suspect don't like art." I immediately agreed, but don't remember what else the character said.

1 comment:

Abigail said...

You've described exactly the way I am weird as well.

I don't care what "other people think" and do and wear whatever I want. Always have. But it is not that very purposeful weird you describe as Salvador Dali. Like you, I also detest that sort of "purposefully weird to be weird."

We are kindred weird-o's!