Being Strange

Yes, Paul, I'm wearing a raincoat.
Yes, Paul, I’m wearing a raincoat.

So there you are, you’re chatting with someone you recently met, and you’re comfortable. Seems like they get you, and your guard comes down. After a drink or two, you’re feeling good and relaxed. Until you realize she isn’t saying anything back anymore. And the look she’s giving you is accusatory. Like you just used her father’s casket as a urinal.

Whoops.

You know what you meant. Totally innocuous in your mind, because you weren’t at all serious. You merely slipped into that familiar sarcasm that makes your friends all groan or grin. The sarcasm you’re known for. Except she doesn’t know you. And now, she isn’t ever going to know you. In one silken, graceful movement, she slides out of the booth you’re sharing, reaches into her purse and somehow dials her best friend’s phone number before the phone even leaves the brown leather bag. At least, you think it’s her friend. In awe, in confusion, you watch those long legs carry her out of the restaurant, into the cab, and out of sight.

And then you play back the last thing you said in your mind. Sounds fine. So you tap a stranger at the bar and ask him if what you said was so bad. He shows you the hilt of his knife and suggests you move along. Hands up, you ease back and make your way home, where you get blitzed and write about it in your journal.

It isn’t until a few days later that you flip back to that entry. There, in black ink, is the last thing you said to her:

“People tell me I remind them of Patrick Bateman a lot. Thought it was ’cause of the hair or the way I talk or something. But no. It’s ’cause they think I’m a serial killer.”

Hands, meet face.

It’d be all right if this was a once in a while thing. But it isn’t. Somehow, I manage to find that magical word combination that skips the countdown and gets right to the explosion. I find that one raw nerve in someone and then I stand on it. With both feet. Such is my skill.

It’s a kind of hyperactive honesty that teams up with well-honed observations–things that make great characters in a book… But timing is everything, I know, and blurting out what I’m thinking is often misunderstood. So making new friends is hard. And that’s because I’m strange. Always have been. Always will.

When you’re strange, people are strangers. (Sorry, Jim, you almost had it.) At first, it’s rough. But then it gets easier. And then it’s a gift. Perspective. Independence. Freedom.

“The rain and the sun, the changing seasons are true friends. Solitude is a hard-won ally–faithful and patient.”
–Henry Rollins, I Know You

3 thoughts on “Being Strange

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