In Praise of all Things Unusual

I’d rather be weird than boring.

When I was first married, living in Edmonton, I used to ride my bike to work from the spring to the fall. Every day, I would pedal by a house where the occupants decorated their garage in a unique way. From the eaves to the floor on the one side, they had nailed garish flea market finds; brightly colored bric-a-brac, things with moving parts, bells, and chimes. My friend said it was ugly, but I was drawn to it. It was so odd and chaotic, it blared like a trumpet in a sleepy, tree-lined neighborhood. What possessed these people to start such a collection and then display it in such a public way?

notnormalI’ve always been fascinated by the novel and weird. It may be because I’ve moved so often, I’ve come to crave that which is unfamiliar. I know I look normal, but I don’t feel that way inside. In my school days, I was always on the fringe of any group I was a part of. I felt awkward and not just at school, but in a larger sense, like I didn’t fit into the world and since I’ve never felt like I fit in, fitting in has never been on my agenda.

I consider myself a non-conformist. I don’t want to be like everyone else. I would rather wave at the bandwagon and walk the other way every time. I don’t adopt traditions passed on to me because they’re traditions. I evaluate them and alter them to suit me. I avoid fads and ignore the latest technology. I develop my own way of doing things and then develop another way of doing that same thing ad infinitum. Some people seem to want to live their lives in a straight line. I’m working on a decorative flourish.

I’m not a stereotypical woman. So-called women’s work, cooking, baking, housekeeping, decorating, and the like are all things I have no interest in pursuing. I’ve managed to followarrowmake a home doing the above only sporadically and some not at all. I’m amazed at women who bake and decorate cookies, churn out delicious, healthy meals for their families, shuttle their kids to sports and lessons every night, keep a clean, orderly, attractive abode, work a side job, and still manage to look pretty and fashionable all at the same time. These Supermoms inspire me with their determination and intention, but not to follow suit. I’ve stopped trying to cram myself into that mold and am concentrating on being my most authentic self. 

I’m not ambitious, productive, or successful by the world’s standards. I have dreams but to do list2they’re airy, there’s no substance to them. I set up goals and never take aim. I don’t make to do lists or accomplish much. I’m missing the motivation chip and have to push myself all the time. If I make a meal or put my laundry away or write something, I congratulate myself. As a health care aide, I spend my days spreading comfort and cheer, wiping noses and bums and I have no intention of bettering my lot. I’m content, climbing the ladder holds no temptation for me.

While I lack the industriousness of a beaver, I possess the spontaneity of a butterfly. My concept of time is very fluid. I’ve never worn a watch and make few plans for my days off beyond time with my spouse and kids or meeting friends. I flit from flower to flower, enthralled by beauty, extracting sweetness. I stop and smell the roses figuratively and literally. That’s one thing I do and do well.tung-minh-253182

I’m captivated by the little details; sprinkles, sparkles, bangles, baubles, splashes, splotches, piping, trim. Put something extra on it and I’m in. I once bought a rain coat because it had a tag on the inside pocket that said “Joy”. The jacket is long gone, the tag sparkly shoes2remains. I own a skirt with pockets on the backside. The underside of the pocket flap is striped and, after washing, often flips up. I never iron it. I want the stripes to show themselves. I wonder why they didn’t put them on the outside in the first place. I can’t throw away bows or bits of ribbon or lace that come on gifts or purchases and they usually end up on my Christmas tree. I have a pair of black, sequined pumps. I call them my party shoes and I’m always excited to put them on at Christmastime. I own two pairs of reading glasses; one sexy librarian type and one quirky pink and purple pair. The latter don’t look good on me. I bought them for the sake of silliness.

The ways people express themselves through hair, makeup, dress, piercings, and tattoos and the things people choose to purchase all say something about who they are. I admire people who wander away from the ordinary.

I find Gwen Stefani with her perpetual, experimental hair, makeup, and costume changes dizzying and delightful. When she was on The Voice, part of the reason I watched it was to look at her.

The contestant on American Idol, La’Portia Renae, not only has a powerful singing voice, but the hair on that woman is “in your face” bold and glorious.

La’Portia Hair Look-a-like

I once contemplated getting dreadlocks, but was dissuaded by a man with dreads in a mall. His hair was huge and magnificent. We were waiting in line for the ATM and I told him I liked it.

“If I could give it to you, I would,” he said woefully.

I adore men who aren’t afraid to wear girlie colors and who can rock a bow tie. I saw a man downtown once in the chill of snowy winter dressed in white from his suit to his pointy-toed shoes. He looked shocking, dapper, and attractive in an elvish sort of way. He truly caught my eye.funny-629675_1920 (1)2

Speaking of shoes, I remember a day when a high school friend and I agreed to dress up and wear the Chinese flats we bought together. I didn’t have an extensive wardrobe and had no idea what one wore with Chinese flats. I paired them with a crepey, blue, church dress.

I realized my transgression when overhearing some girls snickering, “How could she wear those shoes with that dress?”

I was made to feel shame over shoes. Over shoes! This world is so ridiculous sometimes. You’ll miss out on scads of fascinating folks if you insist on judging people by what they wear. I actually like those Wal-Mart photos with all those people dressed in such wacky ways. Be who you are! Wear what you like! Let them take pictures!

My Cool Friend

I have a number of friends who fall into the distinctive style category. In high school, there was my friend with the spiked strawberry blonde hair. In the snapshot I hold of her in my mind, she’s wearing her cherry red suit and her signature pink lipstick or her layers of pearls over a pink polka dot tunic and matching pants. She was visually delicious! I have another friend who always has a flower in hair. She wears vivid colors and striking patterns and accessorizes with abandon. When I look at her I feel alive. A recent friend looks like she walked straight out of the 1950’s with her black bob and cat eye glasses. She’s the epitome of cool.

My Beguiling Friend and her Girl. Photo by Warren Gamache.

I don’t think I’ll ever get one, but I find tattoos beguiling. Being someone who seeks out the new, something that permanent would be a commitment I’m not willing to undertake. Tattoos used to be edgy, worn by convicts, bikers, and soldiers, but have been conscripted by the masses, accountants, plumbers, and housewives, and have become more common. I love the artistry and the story behind them. It takes courage to allow someone other than a surgeon to take what is essentially a scalpel to your skin and inject pigment, no less. It’s significant that so many sign up to become human canvasses, walking artwork. I had a patient once who had tattoos traversing her breasts and traveling down into her hoohaw. That woman was audacious! I wonder if she or any others in the marked multitudes regret their choices as they age. I hope not.

I like people who are a little different. I’d rather have a spicy taco than a white bread sandwich. I put this up on twitter and got some interesting people following me. One had a coffin on his profile pic, another a spooky ghost girl. I like different, but, sorry,  I’m a little wary of scary.

I like people who do things they’re not good at openly and with passion. Yoko Ono can’t sing, but that doesn’t seem to stop her, which I kind of like (more than actually listening pollysinging2to her sing). I used to organize special music at a church I attended. There were individuals on the roster who weren’t perfect singers, I include myself in this, and yet, wanted to share in that way. We think God can only use our best to bless others, but he’s not so close-minded and limited. I miss the kids plunking out their first song on the piano and the old ladies playing their autoharps. Polished isn’t always prime.

I like people who are inappropriate. I’ll admit, there is inappropriate bad and inappropriate good, but proper is so static, so boring. I recall a Christmas pageant where Joseph was played by a portly boy reminiscent of Homer Simpson. Halfway through the production, the sash of his robe gave way revealing his tighty whities. Rather than quietly closing his curtains, the boy went renegade and began bouncing off the set, knocking things over. A woman scrambled onto the stage, chasing the boy which exacerbated things as it appeared the boy thought he was now involved in a game of tag. We in the crowd convulsed in uproarious laughter. Would I exchange this moment for what was supposed to happen, a relatively uneventful children’s Christmas pageant? Would you?

Remember the house in Edmonton with the garish garage? I’ve seen a number of other intriguing digs since then:

  • In that same neighborhood, there was a house painted gold and green, the colors of the local CFL football team. I appreciate their fanaticism, but do question how this will affect their resale value. I also appreciate that they obviously don’t care.scarydolls2
  • Another home a couple of blocks from my home in Edmonton had a doll-sized ladder running up the side facing the street. Climbing up this ladder, were weathered, crack-eyed, naked dolls with matted hair. I’m not kidding.
  • I was privileged to lay eyes on a tiny, white bungalow with a veranda near downtown Calgary with a sign over the doorstep that read “Cottage Cheese”. How cute is that!
  • A house in my current neighborhood has a fountain that looks exactly like a stone toilet. It’s on our regular route for walking and would be a convenient place to take a dump, if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s visible and located on someone’s private property. I’m tempted to throw a couple of chunked up O’ Henry Bars and a handful of corn in there, but that would be terribly immature of me.
  • I regularly walk around the neighborhood at my workplace on my break and there’s one front yard where the ubiquitous garden gnome isn’t posh enough. A little business man complete with briefcase and a doctor looking like he’s just come out of surgery add an air of dignity to the landscaping.

The last home I had in Edmonton we built ourselves. The land, formerly an old brickyard, was located beneath the downtown skyline in the river valley. We were the first ones in and managed to get in cheap and eventually cash out at twice what our home was originally worth. The houses all had front porches and the developer planted trees along the boulevards. With the required landscaping, it promised to be a very    charming place to live. They kept the name, The Brickyard, but we called it The Beige- signboard-1770895_1920yard because almost every house built after ours was a bland beige or grey. My lemony yellow number looked sweet and refreshing against that dull backdrop. If you’re a conservative type, I encourage you to look inward and find that lemony yellow part of you that wants to stand out, cultivate it, and show it to the world. Open your mind to those who are different and be enriched and entertained. If you’re already an original, be gentle with those who have a hard time accepting you, but don’t ever stop being who you are. Be brave and put your full freak on. I’ll be watching for you.

Complete the experience and go listen Jordan Smith’s Stand in the Light

Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: pollyeloquent. Thanks for reading. 🙂


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