Sunday, August 16, 2009

Normal is Lamron Spelled Backwards

I am preoccupied with ideas about normalcy. The word "normal" appeals to me; its seduction lies in its association with ideas of goodness and ease. "Abnormal" is necessarily anomalous, and therefore attracts attention to itself.

We throw the word around in conversation thoughtlessly. "Not a normal thought process," "not a normal hangover," and "not a normal chain reaction" are phrases that I have either heard or said in the past few hours. People usually prefer abnormality as a topic of conversation. Each time "normal" leaves somebody's lips I notice it, because I am obsessed with the topic. Normalcy simultaneously seduces and repulses me.

I feel like I belong to an elite country club where nobody likes me. My unpopularity at the popular club renders me irrelevant. Likewise, my insanity within the societal group of sane people-- if the societal group known as "sane people" can be likened to an elite country club, which is still up for debate-- quarantines me to the gray-matter area of not quite normal, yet not quite abnormal. (I hear Britney Spears' next single!)

Technically, is it normal to want to walk through Highbridge Park in northeastern Manhattan because you have heard it called a dumping ground for bodies? Realistically, if I saw a dead body, I'd probably be so disturbed that, if I were 28 in an earlier era, I'd have been sent straight to Bellevue! I know of people who've found them for realz, and it sounds like a pretty grim experience. But the suggestion of death and actual death are two different things entirely, and I figured the chances of my finding a dead body in Highbridge Park were slim enough to prove safe, yet real enough to prove seductive.

Somebody burnt a car here, it seems. I find this quite scary. It would take a lot of chutzpah for me to get up the balls to burn a car. Talk about a conspicuous anomaly! A burning car does not go unnoticed for long. Plus, the idea of a burning car conjures images of raucous violence and tomfoolery that make me feel like I'm 12 and afraid of boys.

Is superstition normal? Doesn't everybody have at least one superstitious tendency? Perhaps you don't step on the cracks if you can avoid it? Maybe you count stairs in multiples of 12? Do you turn over the fork of the diner across from you, so as to divert its sharp angle from your precious eye?

I like to think that skeleton flowers really do facilitate wishes, if blown assertively enough. I know that we cannot correlate desires fulfilled with thistles wished upon, but still, in this circumstance, I choose to suspend logic in favor of nonsensical belief. It paints a kinder picture of the world for me.

Normal or abnormal? This one's a toughie. On the one hand, aren't all major religions involved in the suspension of logic in one way or another? And religion is societally normal, because it is spoken of openly and without shame. But is my pagan-like ritual too involved in nature-- that mystical woman who endlessly eludes us-- and witchery to count as a normal belief? As the 8 ball says, signs point to "yes."

I want to be normal. But I don't want to be normal.

Think of all the ways that statement could be interpreted!

I want to be sane, but I don't want to be bored.

I want to be part of society, but I don't want to live a life contrived.

I want to be happy, but I don't want to be immune to the cruelty of the world.


  1. normality is a farce. a construction created by the collective to keep our social-selves clustered and 'safe'.
    i see the tension that you describe as an expression of the individualistic tendencies of our culture (and generation)pit against the necessary cohesion and cooperation of being a social being.

  2. What if I replaced "normal" with "natural?" Normalcy and abnormality with nature and nurture? Then being individualistic would be "unnatural" and being a social creature would be "natural." Do we base our ideas of normality on nature?