“There are no norms. All people are exceptions to a rule that doesn’t exist.” – Fernando Pessoa. That quote has brought solace many times in my confusing existence.
By Chris Vizzini
I’VE NEVER FELT LIKE OTHER PEOPLE. Even before learning the difference between positive and negative attention, I certainly didn’t behave like most other people.
Most gay men probably feel the same way to some extent and to varying degrees, though maybe not my particular affliction of blurting out laughing at socially awkward and inappropriate times like a 7th Grader.
Now that I have some knowledge and years under my belt, behaviors have settled, I can dial “it” down when need be, but it’s still there underneath the surface.
In this capacity, I’ve never felt less normal. There are times when the dial spins off its base, catapulting itself over the fence leaving me with my natural reactions, which if polled, might be considered odd at best.
I accept this reality and do my best, which is sometimes an epic fail depending on the trigger.
The act of farting near me always throws me off my game. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve been next to someone at a urinal having a serene pee until the guy next to me unleashes a violently long one.
For these guys, it’s merely flatulence, and they don’t bat a lash. For me, serenity goes out the window transforming me into a 12-year-old who starts laughing uncontrollably for much longer than would seem inappropriately appropriate. I just can’t help it!
Have you any idea what it’s like to control the laughter welling up inside while next to a total stranger who is peeing and farting to their heart’s content, only to lose the battle and begin laughing like you are front row at a comedy club? This is my life.
THE WORD ‘RETARD’
I know it’s wrong. Really wrong in some circles, but that one gets me too. Yes, it’s politically incorrect, however people do still use the word. When they do, it’s a lesser version of the fart scenario. Again, I can’t help it. I start laughing.
Instead of just looking weird, people think the person who used the word is a dick, and I’m guilty by association for laughing.
THE C WORD
When a woman calls another woman a cunt, my particular neuroses become especially tricky. It’s rare and happens when the woman doing the cunt-calling is furious, seeing red, want-to-kill-the-bitch angry.
Then she is met with a seemingly sophomoric person laughing like someone farted at a urinal. No, no. I did that on purpose. I’m going to make “…like someone farted at a urinal.” a new saying. This attempt is not altruistic. It’s so I feel less like a freak. Here’s hoping!
When dogs poop, I lose it.
I know. By now, you probably think I simply have arrested development. While I won’t rule that out entirely, most of the time everything is in check, and no one would be the wiser. However, when a dog poops, is not one of the times.
It’s the way they just stand there dropping log after log, looking around to see who is watching then finally taking it home with the “pinch clinch” that makes their tails go up and down. Well, I’m on the floor at that point, having no idea why but enjoying the laughter nonetheless.
DID I WRITE AN ARTICLE just to say words like “poop” and “retard?” No, though I was laughing through writing most of this. Rather, it’s a soft reminder to us all that normality is an illusionary lie. There is no such thing. What you think and feel is the truth, no matter what anyone else might think, so don’t go hiding yourself to appease others.
The word “normal” shackles you to being untrue to yourself.
Belinda Carlisle said it best in the title of her underrated ‘90s album “Live Your Life, Be Free.” Those, my friends, are words by which to live.
Confessions columnist Chris Vizzini lives in Atlanta. Reach him via this magazine.