June 15, 2007


I think it's possible that I already am my weirdest self.

How long have I been weird? I guess I'd have to check with my parents. I can just imagine it: "We knew from her earliest cries that this was going to be a weird one." Certainly my sister can attest to my weirditude from her perspective, and that goes back into the '60's, when weird was the coin of the realm.

When I was a kid, I started small. I was weird because I gave my dolls buzz cuts. I was weird because milk stayed my favorite drink long after everyone else had switched allegiances to soda. I was weird because I whistled all the time.

As I got older, the ball kept right on rolling. Even fate seemed to play a role, as I was weird in ways I couldn't have controlled. Everyone else's broken bones? Arms and legs. Me? Rib and jaw. I was weird enough that my father – when I balked at the very end of my church's confirmation process – thought that I was being weird for weirdness' sake. And maybe I was. I started to question the collective judgment of my peers. They'd been wrong about Shakespeare. Maybe they were wrong about the importance of proms as well.

So I was eccentric in non-gender-conforming ways, non-music-conforming ways, non-sport-conforming ways, non-literature-conforming ways. Which is to say, I didn't shave my legs, was constantly in search of the next great undiscovered singer-songwriter while everyone else was into rock 'n' roll, couldn't care less about hockey (in upstate NY), and wrote and read poetry. Without it having been assigned to me.

At some point my weirdness became a point of quiet pride. My earlier suspicions that crowd-think wasn't all it was cracked up to be became an ingrained resistance... it's gotten to the point now that I'm actually weirded out (pun intended!) when my tastes seem to coincide with the majority's. Voting for Clinton and then seeing him win? Completely freaky.

So what's the difference between weird and eccentric? I think weirdness runs deeper and is less likely to be considered harmless. Weirdness implies a kind of criticism, I think, or at least a conscious engagement with and distancing from the possibility of being normal.

But it's all good. Because really, isn't everyone pretty weird when you get right down to it? Truth being stranger than fiction and all? And wouldn't it be great if we could all revel in our weirdnesses, instead of worrying about how to smush our square peg selves into the boringly perfect mainstream holes the commercial world is carving out for us all the time?

PS: Friends, I know I've only scratched the surface of weirdness here... c'mon and share in the comments, won't you? Yours or mine, whatever comes to mind.

(Thanks to the women of Sunday Scribblings
for their continuing inspiration.)


spacedlaw said...

Every one is weird alright.
To the others' eyes, and - sometimes - even to their own.
Do you also get the feeling you are actully belonging to a different planet ? Or a slightly different dimension ?
Maybe I'm just weird...

Lucy said...

I agree that we are ALL weird. What's to say what is Not weird though? I also gave my dolls haircuts, but not with a buzzer, With a Razor sharp scissor at 6 years old! haha
loved reading about all your weird ways! :)

Anonymous said...

Totally fabulous post!
I love your "wierdness" as a kid. I think it's great that you didn't conform...the die was cast early on, as they say.
True..I don't remember any kids breaking their jaw or ribs. Arms, wrists, legs, yup.

Oh, and I'm totally wierd!

gautami tripathy said...

Now I like that!


It made a great post!

Janie Hickok Siess, Esq. said...

"And wouldn't it be great if we could all revel in our weirdnesses, instead of worrying about how to smush our square peg selves into the boringly perfect mainstream holes the commercial world is carving out for us all the time?" I hear ya. I'm only getting comfortable with my own weirdness and eccentricities at this advanced age. But I've always been the proverbial square peg trying squeeze into the round hole.

Regina Clare Jane said...

Hear, hear, Shelley! It's amazing how some of us are forced out of "weirdness" at an early age, amybe never to find it again, maybe to embrace it wholly as the years go by... it seems like you were able to really hang onto you "eccentricities" with relish! Yay!

Stacy said...

Well, one girl's weird is another girl's eccentric, I think.

Loved this piece. Saved it for my treat tonight.


strauss said...

Yes agreed, we all have our own quirks, which is what makes us refreshingly unique. I too buzz cut doll hair.

mks said...

I think that the minute we do anything that deviates from "the joneses" we are viewed as eccentric..."WHY would she want to do that, have that, live like that?" Hey I "talk" to birds these days but why not? They never talk back!

Patois said...

I enjoy all of your eccentricities, your weirditude. I like to be the different one, the other one myself. When I'm older, people will just accept it as an eccentricity, not the real mean. Which will make me laugh even harder.

boliyou said...

As one weirdo to another, very well said!

DJPare said...

Very fine line between weird and just plain interesting.

lisrobbe said...

Actually, I would have to say that maybe it wasn't you that was weird but everyone else. Why is it that when we don't conform we are considered eccentric or weird? I think maybe being conformist is even weirder because then we are not being our true selves.

forgetfulone said...

No doubt - everyone is weird! I think you have coined a new word - weirditude. Love it!

Crafty Green Poet said...

I revel in my weirdness, it would be boring if we were all non-weird! Great post!

Marcia (MeeAugraphie) said...

Weird, unique, or eccentric, love them all, wish I had realized at a younger age that it is all good and beats the heck out of being someone else. Really liked many of the phrases you came up here.