Friday, March 27, 2009

Look at me! I'm (no longer) pink like a newborn baby now!

As a former '80s wannabe-goth whose wardrobe still rests comfortably in the spectrum between midnight and onyx, this pink thing may not be long for my little corner of the blogosphere, but sometimes one needs to try something new, right? Along those same lines of trying something new, well, I've decided that eating meat is not such a bad idea and stripping is both an excellent expression of female empowerment and an obvious pathway to animal liberation.

Happy April Fools' Day, darlings!

Now that that's out of the way, please redirect your attention while I gracelessly segue to the theme of today's introspective gaze into my tormented psyche: I do not fit in, not now, not never, as Daffy Duck would sibilantly say. I was reminded of this the other day, when I was at the grocery store in the checkout aisle. There was a woman standing behind me who had started to load her items on the conveyor belt when I saw from the corner of my eye that she was drinking oil. I thought to myself, "That's odd," but I didn't think much beyond that because I've known some raw foodists in my life and they consume some very strange things. As I turned to finish unloading my cart, though, I noticed that she was not, in fact, drinking oil, but apple juice (which really should be the first conclusion one draws when seeing someone drink a golden-hued liquid from a bottle). I laughed to myself and remarked, "Oh, I thought you were drinking oil for a moment there." She looked aghast, not so much at the idea that I thought she was drinking oil, but that I was speaking to her. Totally devoid of humor or even the slightest bit of warmth, she pointed to the label on the bottle she was drinking out of and said, "No. It's juice." The look on her face, though, said it all: Oh, my goodness, the fourth wall has come crumbling down and I am no longer just invisibly going through my day. Make it stop! Am I being punk'd?!

I am generally pretty good at reading body language and have little interest in conversing with those who might be so traumatized by a (non-threatening, recently bathed) stranger making a little silly observation in the checkout line. It does seem lately, though, that my will-freak-if-spoken-to detector is off, or is faulty, or maybe I never really had one and I was just better at faking my way through that sort of thing. I do know that the older I get, the more it seems like most other people (other people means those who are not my friends) have been given some sort of rule book on conduct and I never received the book or the memo. It's not like I'm hanging from light fixtures and shrieking like a chimpanzee or anything, but it does seem like me at 25% of natural capacity is about what most mainstream-y people can tolerate. It's mostly just amusing to me now, but this was hard when I was growing up and so desperately sought acceptance: at any point before the age of, say, sixteen, I would have gladly traded my soul to be a detached, straight-haired Wasp who excelled at volleyball just so I could just fit the hell in finally. Thank goodness no lobster-skinned devil with a pitchfork whispered such an offer in my ear or I surely would've shook his gruesome hand over it.

Today, I accept and even enjoy my differences, but when I have little moments like the one in the grocery store the other day, my innate failure to grasp and apply the Rules of Acceptable Social Engagement and Behavior comes flooding back to me. There are many reasons for my disconnect (though I just think I was born this way) and I'm sure that a psychotherapist, gestalt practitioner and Zen master would have fun exploring my circuitry, but I am largely content. As long as I'm not being rude or thoughtless, I'm happy to continue on my path, ferreting out the stray mom at my son's piano class who's just a little weird-in-a-good-way weird, the other family that bikes everywhere in the summer. Still, even in my precious little community that pats itself on the multicultural shoulder every day for its diversity and progressiveness, I am reminded daily of the myriad ways I fail to fit in.

Shall I enumerate?

1. All my pants are frayed or ripped at the bottom from getting stuck in my bike's chain ring. Every single pair without exception. This drives my poor mother insane.

2. I have, approximately, four pairs of shoes (rain boots with umbrellas, cowboy boots with stars, little floral-printed canvas ones for the warm weather, and your standard black with a heel). I am content with my relative lack of footwear.

3. My inability to fit in is perhaps genetic, definitely modeled, to my son, who, at six, refers to the one classmate he doesn't like as being "passive-aggressive."

4. He also sees aliens, UFOs and space cats as he's visited by them regularly. They crash in our front yard and he has conversations with them using an invisible device when we're at the post office.

5. We have a electric peace sign in our front window and an earth flag hanging in front. We had a Kucinich For President sign in our front yard up until last summer. John says this keeps any Republican canvassers who might dare to enter our town away from our house and I tend to agree. Shoo!

6. Speaking of our front yard, we cannot for the life of us grow grass. It simply will not take. We are not burdened with any more shade than anyone else on our block, yet, still they have lush, verdant, photo-ready lawns. I think this is a sign to rip it all out and re-plant with native grasses and flowers. Lawns are overrated.

7. We're vegan.

8. We have a spring ritual every year that revolves around our son finding the dyed turnips we have hidden in our back yard.

9. At the playground, I cannot share my impressions of Dancing With The American Idols because I have no idea.

10. I have a record in Wisconsin. No, really.

11. My friends are all weirdos like me: kombucha-brewing, pulling-three-kids-on-one-bike, knuckle-tattooed, animal-rescuing, passionately engaged and outspoken subversives. In fact, I often feel like quite the young Republican (appearance-wise, of course, and just relatively speaking at that) in their company. Even the ones who seem like they aren't weirdos, trust me, they are.

12. I do not know how to make coffee or use an electric can opener.

13. Small children stare at my husband unabashedly because they cannot assign a gender to someone who possesses both long hair and an Adam's apple and thus are unable to reconcile the two. Once children know John, though, they love him.

14. I wear a bright red hat with cat ears.

15. I cry extremely easily and over relatively silly things, and then, almost inevitably, I start laughing hysterically at how funny it is that I'm crying over something so silly. The overall effect is a bit disconcerting, at least from what I've gathered.

This is just off the top of my head, of course. And now I'm off to start up conversations with nervous strangers in my red cat hat and frayed pants. Have a great one!

Shalom, everyone.

7 comments:

The Venerable Vegan Empress said...

Ha! I would have laughed so hard if I'd been that lady with the apple juice. In fact, I might have been inspired to tell you about my lifelong life of apple juice and how, at the age of three, I snatched and downed a shot of brandy from one of my uncles because I thought it was apple juice.

And damn, your friends sound like my friends! Especially the kombucha part. One of my best friends actually brews kombucha using primarily berries that he finds around his neighborhood. It's quite delicious and lovely.

The Venerable Vegan Empress said...

Blah! Lifelong LOVE of apple juice!!!

Marla said...

Hey, VVE -

I started to laugh but then she looked like she might mace me or cry or something so I thought better of it.

I love your story of mistaken apple juice. I have one, too: many years ago, I was at the Rainbow Gathering (search it if you're not familiar - basically a big alternative/hippie camping/pray-for-peace-and-do-mushrooms deal) and I was dying of thirst. They hadn't found a reliably clean source of water (it's all self-sufficient) so I was very, very thirsty, along with thousands of others. Anyhoo, each campsite has a kitchen with a fire pit, food, etc. On about day three of drinking only my allotted 1/2 cup of water, I thought I spied a big gallon of apple juice in my campsite's kitchen so I stole in there in the middle of the night to chug some. Turns out that it was cooking oil (warm from the heat of summer). That was a rude and disgusting awakening for sure! I was waiting for sweet ambrosia, and sadly mistaken. Darn you, apple juice, for being so easy to mimic!

I love your kombucha friend. My kombucha friend does a lot of urban foraging but I don't think she's done that with her tea. She's going to be very envious indeed! Jane, are you reading this?! Get with the program for real.

lagusta said...

DYED TURNIPS!!!! My how I adore you!

Chandelle said...

Can I just say how much I relate to everything you said? Except the part about having friends as weird as you. Most of my friends are relatively normal and they spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure me out or making faces, ranging from astonishment to disgust, at all the bizarre things I do. I might write my own post in this vein, linking to you of course.

Marla said...

Dyed turnips, baby! And, Chandelle, I'd love to see your post. You're on assignment, lady!

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