YSW

I got it again this morning at the supermarket. I mean, I’m used to it. I’ve been getting all my life, no matter how much I try to avoid it.

It’s the look. The YSW look. The “You’re So Weird” look.

Today it was when I stood waiting for someone to move the shopping cart that was between me and the frozen limeade concentrate I wanted.

She saw me waiting and moved the cart, but she shot me that look, that YSW look. You know, the look that starts quizzical, then shifts into feirce and ends with and eye roll, maybe accented with a sigh.

The YSW look says, I think, “I know what normal people do & say and what you just did or said isn’t what I would have done, so I have to signal to you and the world that you are so weird.”

It’s a code to most people that they have to learn to modify their behavior to be acceptable, normative. We learn it early, in school or maybe even before, when people want to just separate themselves from us, draw a quick line between the normative & good and the weird & bad.

I learned a long time ago how to manage that look, of course. Hell, that’s what most of my persona was, defense against YSW. Let fly, it will just bounce off all this damn armor plating that keeps my seeping pain inside and your little jibes outside.

But now, well, now, too much is at the surface and I notice. I still have the armor, so FU on the outside, but on the inside, it’s just another reminder that, well, that I’m so weird.

I saw a sign yesterday designed for a girl’s dorm room or such, with instructions to men. It was cute lines like “Don’t talk to my breasts. You won’t be meeting them.”

While I do understand that people feel this way, it seemed so weird to me that you can clearly know who you are, who is other, and end up being able to create some us versus them dichotomy. I mean, that’s so weird, that whole men/women split, so weird to me, and so blissfully normal to everyone else. Heck, just watch five minutes of The View and you can get that.

I live in a world where so much seems so weird to me that I have more or less given up on ever being able to fit in and be functional, but it’s also a world where I know that when the vote comes down on who is weird, I’m gonna be the odd one.

One of my foundational stories is when Miss Hansen, my fifth grade teacher, got a point of science wrong and I corrected her. She didn’t like that, but I wouldn’t back down, so she had the class vote about who was right. She won, of course, with a 100% majority, but I still wouldn’t back down. After I was trained as an elementrary school teacher, I understood the magnitude of the stick she attempted to demolish me with, and how weird I was that I wouldn’t back down with that huge slam of peer pressure. I was so weird.

(My mother also tells a story about Miss Hansen. She was visiting the classroom and so Miss Hansen picked me to do the example math problem on the board. I was supposed to fail to solve it, and then Miss Hansen would spend 45 minutes teaching us how to do it. Unfortunately, I solved the problem and my mother watched me sit in my own world as Miss Hansen spent 45 minutes of my time teaching the other children.)

The problem is that damn 14 year old girl inside of me, the one who wants to be pretty. She doesn’t want to be so weird, she wants to be one of the gang, welcomed and popular.

She doesn’t have a chance in hell.

So people shoot me YSW, and they bounce off the old iconoclast, but inside?

Ouch.