Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Normal is...recognition.

There is a club that most people do not know about- one that my friends Joe and Jenifer used to call the "white trash club"- but, it's a misnomer. The club consists of damaged people... damaged people with Ph.Ds., J.D.s., M.D.s... (tooooo many doctors of whatever)

(I've said for years that people who go to school to long are neurotic...)

Damaged by their lack of fathers or mothers, their poverty, their life in Fifth Avenue Motel or some random trailer park or government housing project, the cigarette burns, the hunger, the beatings, the rapes, ad infinitum. Somehow, miraculously, we all recognize one another...

Is it the smart ass way that they answer everything you say? Is it the way that they're always waiting for the other shoe to drop? Is it the constant seeking and proving of themselves? Is it the persistent substance dependance? Is it the fact that for them, enough is never enough, that whatever they sought to prove cannot be proven? Is it the self loathing disguised as wit or the constant attempt to wear some mask of normalcy?

I don't know. I just know, that I know. Intuitively. As do they.

And somehow, tonight, an acquaintance calls me and says, "I barely know you, but I need to talk to you. You've been to Viet Nam, right? You know where Saigon is." And well, we both knew. And her plight is not the one that I want to address- it is the recognition that her plight is not foreign to me that I want to write about. That she takes comfort in the fact that I do not gasp, that I do not feign shock, that I do not get the vapors as she tells me her story...

And that is what she needs. Someone to make fun of horror. Someone to tell her it's all a cosmic joke. Someone to tell her that it's okay to hate and laugh at the same time. And we do! (you have no idea how many pedophile jokes I know. . .)

And I used to think that this recognition would stop, that I would move to a sphere of higher consciousness. But now, I don't believe there is a higher sphere. Today, in trial, I was asked, "For her grandmother to act as her mother, is that normal?" and I answered, "Yes, my grandmother was MY mother."

And this constant overlying of what is "normal" onto what is "not" is the source of the separateness of people... Is it "normal" to have a lower (or higher) than average I.Q.? Is it "normal" to have interests that coincide with none of your peers? Is your weight or your attracive-ness "normal?" (ad nauseum)

And oddly, there are people who are not of the club who are fascinated by the club. And I announce, "YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE IN THIS CLUB!" And still, they want to be close to the club, to study the members like science projects gone really gothic. I still have no idea what that's about...

But still, I wonder whether any of us really move out of the club. We are never comfortable at cheese tastings and fundraisers, we constantly feel for the underdogs, though our social skills are a bit rough; our grammar is perfect and so is our conversation. I wonder if anyone notices.
I wonder if anyone cares.

No matter. The club is there.


  1. Good stuff. Mentioned you in The Ag Urbanite's new issue. Cheers.

  2. At best, it is an indefinable thing, that sense of knowing, recognizing. We all experience it and are drawn to the wounds and pain. You expressed it beautifully!

  3. This makes me think of a time long ago when we were discussing this very issue. There was someone present who wanted to be a part the "club" sooo badly, and and she whined, "but I lived in a trailer once." I guess we make it seem really, really cool.

  4. blank stares of recognition standing in the outdoor smoking sections of life. It's cold, windy, rainy but stand huddled around that burning ember for all it's worth

  5. Thanks,
    Sometimes I can be so obtuse.