I have this need to be funny. I’ve had it all my life. The first time I can remember amusing a room full of people was when my brother was in college. I was about five years old, maybe six. He had some friends over. Wanting attention, any little bit of it, I skipped into his room and immediately (I was a damn cute kid) had the attention of three or four nineteen or twenty year olds. The conversation went like this:
Me: Whatchoo doin’?
Bro: [Tells me what they’re doing.]
Me: Ok. Bye!
And out I skipped. I was Mindy from that Animaniacs sketch before Animaniacs existed.
And as I skipped away I heard my brother’s friend say:
“Dude, your little sister is cool.”
Thus began my affection for men of a certain age. Wink, wink.
No, but really, that may be the moment I realized that by being my weird self I could amuse others and gain their love and affection.
Since then I have, on occasion, gone out of my way to be weird or dramatic or over-the-top when under-the-radar would suffice and sometimes it has backfired (although, in my defense, that Saliga girl wasn’t going to like me not matter what I did or said). But most of the time it has brought wonderful and lovely people into my life.
My affinity for the bizarre, the ridiculous, and the weird has also leeched into my writing. In college I wrote a short story that was a lovely piece about two sisters burying the hatchet and making piece with one another. But the story starts out with one of the twins shopping in a consignment shop with a friend. Our protagonist says to her friend: “You know what’s weird?” and the friend responds “My brother’s lazy eye.” I thought that response was a mite out there, a little distracting, potentially inappropriate, but my best college friend read it and couldn’t stop laughing. She fucking loved it! I was attempting to curb my weirdness, but she was calling for more! More! More!
Somehow my weirdness is generally well received. I wrote something stupid and bizarre where the protagonist/narrator is chasing a woman in a red cape through a crowded subway station full of faceless people until the woman falls onto the tracks and the protagonist/narrator sees her face as she stares cold and dead at the ceiling and it is her own face. A pal read that (a pal who I think always just tells me he likes my stuff regardless of what he might really think) and said he enjoyed it. This was the eleventh grade.
I have always had a strange attraction to skulls, witches, death, death rituals (funerals, etc), unexplainable events, ESP, premonitions, etc… typical middle class suburban girl stuff (remember that movie Now and Then when they have the seance in the graveyard?). Probably explains why I am so drawn to H.P. Lovecraft, Neil Gaiman, Edgar Allan Poe, Koji Suzuki, Lois Duncan, Agatha Christie… murder mysteries and anything with an occult element (despite not “believing” in “spirits”). I like original fairy tales and folk tales for the same reason. There’s a magical element generally and even though I don’t believe in “magic” I believe there is magic in the world and that it’s important to remember that.
I suppose “believing in the weirdness” goes along with that. If people will believe in my bizarre Ursula K. LeGuin/Diana Wynne Jones/Neil Gaiman sorts of worlds then they might just remember that there is magic in the world and that we must create it every day.