People Are Strange

People do strange things all the time—really, really odd. They pose for disturbing professional portraits. They take women who are not their wives out for dinner and dancing and then solicit other men to dance with them. They go to Star Trek conventions or keep rows of stuffed animals along the rear window of their car. In their free time, they enjoy shoving sticks in holes to arouse wrathful snakes. They covet the images projected by Camille Flawless.


I don’t want to be one of those people, but I probably am.


Do you have any idea just how ODD you are? What weird thing do you do that makes people take a small step back?


This goes way beyond the “whatever floats your boat” philosophy. Fortunately, most of the bizarre things people engage in aren’t dangerous or (entirely) morally depraved, but they certainly inspire a moment of, uh, “processing” when others learn of their predilections. I suppose a therapist or scientific researcher might talk about impulse control, oxytocin, patterns of gratification, and risk taking when analyzing the whys behind such activities. But the truth remains, that we all do this. In fact, the Doors’ iconic song People Are Strange sets out the universal quality of our condition.


While our weirdnesses may not be as colorful as the ones I started this post with, the tie that binds us to our more flamboyant brethren is that we all do it—and much of the time, we don’t even realize how peculiar we are. Statistically speaking, I know I must do something equally odd. I’ve tried to deconstruct my attitudes and behaviors, but I have yet to figure it out—being wildly anal about how the dishwasher gets loaded (thanks, mom) doesn’t rise to the level of freak show. I wish someone would tell me so I might examine the matter more closely.


Remember, what I am referring to is distinct from behaviors that some people embrace because they WANT to be perceived as “weird.” That group is hungrily, actively soliciting attention and they go about it by pursuing a rebel road. To me, such behaviors are not integrated with who the person truly is; rather, they remind me of a needy teenager. Of course, there is (as with all things) a spectrum, but what I find so intriguing is what our weird, innate behaviors or attitudes reveal about our inner selves. Why is it that someone would want to disturb a sleeping snake that presents no threat? What could possibly be seen as sexy or appealing about the male or female model at Camille Flawless? What chord is this striking?


When you have time, I want you to reflect upon somebody you know who does something you consider very strange. What is it that they do? What makes it so perplexing? Would others consider it as odd as you do? And if not, what does that tell you about them…and about you? And, finally, so this doesn’t come across as a wholly critical post, what sort of freedom does this person enjoy that allows them to engage in such activities—most likely, it’s a freedom you don’t possess yourself. Because, while it’s none of our business what other people choose to do, we can learn something about ourselves in how we react. Send me your best odd stories, I’m always looking for new material…


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