|Jinny has been very ill and is currently undergoing rehabilitation in a Bangor facility so she will not be writing her article for awhile. She is making excellent progress and hopes to be able to return to writing her column in the near future... Adele.
The other day I was listening to a show on the radio that asks famous people questions that are supposedly designed to reveal their inner personalities to people in the audience who, for some unfathomable reason, seem to want to have them revealed. The questions were pretty much along the lines of, "what's your favorite color?" and, " if you were a tree, what kind would you be?" I wasn't really listening very closely since I am not much interested in celebrities, their inner personalities, or what kind of tree they might be if they were one. There was one question that kind of caught my interest; it was, "what adjective has been used most often to describe you by people who know you?"
I didn't really listen to their answers because I was pondering the question myself. Reviewing my life and interactions took a few minutes, but I ultimately did come up with an answer. The adjective used most often to describe me by people I have known is, "odd."
It would have been nice if the answer had been, "nice", or "brilliant", or "beautiful", or something equally flattering, but it wasn't; it was "odd".
The funny thing is, I don't think that people were trying to insult me, and my oddness didn't seem to make them want to run away or put on a Hazmat suit or anything; they have been my friends and associates. They just thought that I was a little odd.
I should point out that "odd" is not the same as "strange". Strange is something that involves hair standing up on the back of one's neck or ghostly apparitions floating through walls. Odd is something entirely different and more benign. I think that odd is the word that people used to express the fact that I didn't track in what they understood to be normal in their experience. It is the kind of word that you might use when something does not behave in what you understand to be the way that it should in the world. For instance, if you step outside your house in the morning to go to work and you notice that your car is levitating 4 feet above the ground you might say, "That's strange." On the other hand, if you step outside your house and notice that your car is covered with moisture even though it didn't rain during the night you would be more likely to say, "That's odd." There is a subtle, but genuine difference. I'd like to think so, anyway. It makes me feel better about the idea of oddness.
I tried to think back to the circumstances under which people felt compelled to tell me that I was odd. I remember once when Chuck went away to camp for a week and my female friends felt that I should celebrate my freedom from child care by going shopping and clubbing while I was thrilled to have the opportunity to come home from work, skip dinner, and have entire evenings to myself to watch a week-long series on the history channel about ancient Greece. I remember someone calling me odd that time.
I recall being called odd when I was reading Caesar's Memoirs while I at lunch. I'm pretty certain that it was the reading material rather than the reading itself that caused my oddness that time. I also remember a time when I became obsessively intrigued by the idea of how to calculate the area under an arch and went on the internet to figure it out. I got all excited when I found the formula and went around measuring any arch I could find to figure out the area. I was giddy with the fact that I understood the formula and how to use it, so much so that my boss at the time asked me why I was so happy. I told him what I had figured out and went on about how beautiful and cool and ridiculously simple the formula was once you learned it. (Just in case you are wondering, it's double calculus) "Adele", he said..."I've always known that you were different now I realize that you are odd." There must be some subtle distinction between "different" and "odd", but it escapes me.
There are numerous other examples of behavior of mine that has prompted people to call me odd, but I won't bore you with them. Suffice it to say that it is a word that has been used with some degree of frequency to describe me.
My beloved daughter called me the other day terribly excited because her boyfriend had given her an early Valentine's Day present and it was the best gift she had ever received. If you are thinking,; flowers by the dozen, a romantic dinner at an upscale restaurant followed by magnificent jewelry, or a fabulous cruise somewhere out of a romance novel, you'd be wrong. It was a certificate to jump out of a plane in tandem with a professional skydiver. "Katie," I said, "I'm so sorry if I made you odd. I didn't do it on purpose."
"Don't be stupid, Mom." She chided me. "I love your oddness and I am so grateful that you gave it to me. It used to make me feel kind of detached from other people when I was younger, but now I love it and wouldn't have it any other way."
Thank goodness for that. If oddness is going to be genetic, it's nice to be able to feel good about it. I was a little jealous, though. I want to jump out of a plane too.