Saw a kid walking down the street, had a totally strange kind of affect. Wore all brown, hair in 20 directions, mustache bigger than a musketeer, off-centered glide as he threw peace signs out to the car that stopped for his crosswalk. Probably high or perma-fried. The kid was so far down the strangeness scale that he edged into the uncanny valley of personability. The kind of person you watch with interest from a distance, but don’t really want over at your house.
For most of my youth, I was told to just be myself, to be weird, to think different. To be outside of the box. To eschew normalcy and be hardcore about it. To let my colorful freak flag fly to the point of spectacle.
What they were really telling me was to be unique enough that I’m interesting. That’s it. Interesting. Unique enough that I might offer something advantageous: socially, genetically, philosophically; that I am willing to stand above the fray and make for something better. That I have something mutated just enough to survive in a new, changing world.
I took those admonitions to heart and pushed myself pretty far down that scale. When I brought forward the oddities, I mostly got plaintive peals of, “Shawn, you’re weird.” So I think I know where that kid comes from — that could’ve been me. Weird in a bad, unpalatable sense. Too mutated to be anything other than a mutant. Kept at a distance; not invited.
If only I had been more precocious, I could’ve kept an eye on where I sat in relation to the world while tweaking the knobs of differentiation to find my perfect recipe.
But oh well. Here’s to mid-life adaptations, right?