Inspired by a quote from a tumblelog via Maia Bittner:
Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.-― Albert Camus
Enter another series of life story interjections.
A few months back I lived in this hellhole also known as the armpit of California or Bakersfield to the locals. I have never fit in anywhere. I’m not complaining at all. However when trying to get a job somewhere, specifically in the middle of nowhere, you need to look as non-abrasive as possible.
Bakersfield is the epicenter of not only nothing, but an undeserved “better than you” conservative nightmare. If you are not from there, you are snubbed. Even worse if you look anything less than unfashionable lemming. Not to say that everyone from that locale is that way.. but, well, there’s never going to be a major runway show coming out of there.
In an yet another failed attempt to “act normal,” my friend John rolled his eyes. He’d told me that I should downplay my attire for a day out job hunting. I wore a blue collared button up shirt, khacki’s, a plaid scarf, and a brown houndstooth jacket. It was business professional in my mind. However, that was enough to merit
“Oh you have it all wrong. Better, but still no. No one dresses [in this town] like Audrey Hepburn Jena. I mean, look at that coat. It looks like you robbed her grave for it…”
I chortled. Ah I love gay men. Even indirectly, the best compliments come from them. John is a character of himself. Far from normal, but appears it from the outside. He’s not only accepted in the biggoted area there, but welcomed with open arms. For him, acting normal, even if he isn’t, comes easy.
Months later, let’s go back to my last visit to my beloved San Diego. This time I was in the Marina district visiting a lover. Downtown San Diego, as many of you know, is full of that standard “normal.” You can operate well under the radar if you want to… but not me. As he did, quite easily when I wasn’t around. I lived in San Diego for years, but never fully felt like I fit in there either.
I take into account many different fashions and don’t really have a classification. I’m a bit of a chameleon. I have been referred to as a Madonna on more than one occassion. I can’t stand to look at the same face in the mirror for too long. I am addicted to buying hair dye. I’m indecisive. It’s what I do when I stress.
(What’s funny, is that I don’t even think I look that weird.)
For someone like me, to be “normal” is not only work, but it’s damn hard work sometimes. It’s not that I don’t know what society deems as socially acceptable or that I don’t want to fit in. To some degree, it’s human nature to want to.
It’s a double edged sword. You grow up being told to be different. You have to do your best to stand out from the crowd. Then when you do, you are snubbed.
Enter church. Sunday morning Catholocism. My father… the ever vigilante. I didn’t want to go for a colon cleansing. However, after some bucking, I decided to bite the bullet and take one for the team. I was dressed like a Pinup, but essentially conservative. I do not agree with everything being said in the service, but observed and took notes like the normal journalist. When it came time for the Our Father, everyone in the church will hold hands and pray this one prayer as a unified sect. The woman standing next to me was an elderly woman. She snubbed me.
Flashback yet again to when I had my son baptised. A single mother, but doing what I was brought up to be the best thing. I went to a class for parents getting the sacrament. What they want to do is educate you as to why you are getting these things done for your child, and educate you on some of the basics.
Ten years of Catholic school rhetoric. Of course, I was the one to answer nearly every question. The deacon came around to ask everyone about the names on the certificate. He asked the father’s name of my son- whom went MIA immediately upon me telling him I was PG. This was not necessarily my fault, but oh man did I get to hear it. Again, I was snubbed.
However still, despite the nose turning that I had gotten when I did step 1 for my son, when I got married later, I attempted to yet again try and do this “normal” thing. I went to church with my family. I did the aerobics.. not one church besides the one I grew up in, I didn’t get snubbed.
In transverse, I have had a few great moments in not being normal. They far outweigh the bad ones when you think about it.
I was in Venice last summer, when I nearly moved applying for a gaming company. (My housing arrangement fell through so I didn’t end up taking that job unfortunately) I had on an animal print top, black capris, some black and white polka dot pumps with red heels, a red ribbon round my neck, chandelier earrings, and what I call my “Lucille Ball” hair wrap. To me, this wasn’t anything majorly different. And in Venice, even more so.
I was walking around on the canals headed to my interview though, and needed to make sure I was going the right way. I saw someone watering their garden outside. The woman told me that I was indeed going the right way, and I thanked her and carried on. I heard her utter the words
“Desperately Seeking Susan…”
Moments later, she rushed up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder. She wanted to know if she could take a picture with me. My immediate reaction was
“I don’t look that weird do I? I mean this is Venice…”
“No no no. You look great. I love it all!”
The whole day went like that, and I was offered that job. When my living situation changed, I had to tell them that I was taking a class and unfortunately could not take them up on the offer. They said that they were disappointed and gave me 2 weeks to change my mind! I wish I could have taken it, and even now, I still consider trying to find an arrangement to pick up that job.
Another day of applying was similar. I get told I look like a movie star. I’m not quite sure why. This happens in spurts. Even though it does seem to be a reoccurance, it always shocks me a bit.
But if not being normal is wrong, well.. a majority of the time, I’ll leave it to those people who can pull it off without worry. Pretending when you’re not on a stage? Fuggetaboutit!