Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Who's the Weird One?

When I was a child, there was beer on tap at all times. That's not hyperbole--we really had a keg of beer tapped at all times. Both my parents and my grandparents had a beer fridge in the basement, the sole purpose of which was to house a tapped keg of beer. Hanging out at Grandma and Grandpa's house across town meant Grandpa would head down to the basement to fill a plastic pitcher before sitting at the kitchen table to visit. I think I was an adult before I recognized how weird this was.

Beer - Flotsam of the Mind

In elementary school, I didn't notice the differences between my family and those of my friends. One of my best friends had a single mom and lived with her grandparents, which was unlike any other family I knew. But that didn't register at the time. All I knew was that my friend's grandma made the best molasses cookies. The greatest distinction I recognized was that her family packed a Ho Ho in her lunch box, while I received only the poor substitute of a Little Debbie snack cake in mine. This was the world view of a child in the single digits.

Somewhere around age ten, I began to notice that not everyone did everything just like my family did. With the wisdom of a tween, I deemed all these differences "weird." When I made a new friend and spent much of my time at her house, I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that they didn't make their beds every day (even the parents!), kept the bread in the freezer, and ate pita bread (which, in my defense, was pretty radical in 1980s northern Ohio). In my middle childhood, my experience was the baseline against which I judged everything else.

As a self-centered teenager, my world view remained limited. I worried about myself too much to notice what anyone else did.

Then I went to college and realized there was a whole world beyond my own. I befriended people from all over the country, many of whom came from vastly different economic backgrounds than anyone in my home town. They talked differently, they wore different clothes, and they had experiences and family traditions different than mine.

I suspect that I first thought their lives were not only different from mine, but better. That didn't last very long. I soon learned that every family has its quirks--some good, some bad, some just quirky.

The more people I meet, the more data points I have. After forty-plus years of gathering data, I can safely say that I had a fairly typical and very good childhood. We were pretty mainstream. Except when we weren't.

We're weird.

But so are you.

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