Thursday, November 09, 2006

I'm Feeling Special


Actually I'm feeling "different":

  • Most of the candidates I voted for in this week's election lost. Most of the ballot measures I voted for lost, and most of the ones I voted against won. No news here, though; it almost always comes out that way.
  • A particular variety of nutrition bars I've gotten very attached to is no longer being stocked by the only store I know that carries the brand. "They weren't selling well enough," I was told. They're willing to special order them for me. But that's a pain.
  • Every time I want to use CD-burning software for one of my apparently esoteric purposes, I wrestle with the assumption that whatever I'm working with must be a "song." I don't work with downloaded music to begin with, but even if I did, the sort of music that I listen to doesn't present itself as "songs."
  • Along the same lines ... while the bazillion music channels I can get on my satellite TV dish are categorized into different sub-genres of Country, Rock, Hip-Hop, etc., my CD collection is broken down into Organ, Piano, Choral (the biggest section, with an entire sub-genre for Evensong), Concertos, other Orchestral, other Vocal (my scant collection of Opera is here), Christmas, and--the smallest category--Non-Classical (mostly Jazz).
  • I'm left-handed.
  • While my gastronomical repertoire has expanded considerably from what it was in my youth, I could probably still be considered a "picky eater." (No fruits, no cream sauces, no salads, very few vegetables.) When we accept a dinner invitation, my wife either has to have a discreet conversation with the host(ess) in advance, or worry that she hasn't.
  • I'm foreign-born. Technically, I guess, that makes me an immigrant, even though I was born a U.S. citizen, since my mother is American.
  • I'm a Cubs fan for life, though I haven't lived in the Chicago area since the early '70s. When I reveal this bit of personal information to my neighbors in the four other states I have lived in since then, I get lots of sympathetic smiles--verbal pats on the head--but very few know what it feels like. I fantasize about moving back to Chicago and just fitting in, wearing my Cubs hat without getting a second look.
I'm sure there's some profound point to be made here, but it hasn't been revealed to me yet! I've gotten used to being "different," and I don't need to tell myself I'm really "special" to help me deal with it. In truth, I suspect I'm probably not all that "special" anyway. I suspect that most every person around me has the same sense of being "different," of not quite fitting in. Just the details are different. This is a sign of the universal human experience of alienation. The older I get, the more aware I am of how so many of the ways people behave--ways that we would consider normal and healthy, and ways that we would consider pathological and dysfunctional--represent an attempt to transcend that experience, to connect in some way with something larger than oneself. Is this not the fundamental human angst?


Scout said...

Hmm, the older I get the less I think we're all special, and I want to be regular member of my community--just another butt on the stool at the coffee shop.

Your wife having to have a discreet conversation with the hostess regarding your food preferences puts me in mind of another wife who had to warn hostesses about her husband's disdain for chicken.

Unknown said...

You're lucky, Dan. My wife considers my dietary preferences to be my problem to deal with in social situations.

Unknown said...

I live in Chicago and the Cubs hats are pretty much put away for the winter. Maybe you should give that a try.

Daniel Martins said...

You know how it goes--expatriates can be more concerned with the customs of the "old country" than residents are. Here in California, Mexicans make a big deal out of Cinco de Mayo. (They almost shut down my church on the Sunday nearest with their parade.) But I'm told that in Mexico it's a minor holiday, scarcely even observed!