Tuesday, August 05, 2014

For Better Or For Worse

Let me tell you the story of a little boy, much like yourself. A special little boy.  Not special as in learning disabled (although a case could certainly be made that he was). Not even special like he could run faster than anybody else or jump higher than anybody else, or even that he was smarter (though again, a case could be made). No, this boy… let’s call him Chester, I always liked the name Chester, was special because he was different. Where other people did, Chester observed.

It all started when he was a child. On the first day of kindergarten, Chester left the security and familiarity of his home and for the first time met other children. It was a day of firsts for him. First time being away from his parents, first time having a teacher, first time having to learn things (even if all he learned was how to color inside the lines and trace around his hand with a crayon to make retarded, mutant turkeys with more humps on their backs than a camel) and it was his first time having recess, meaning his first time having social interaction.

It went wrong from the start. As soon as the kids were ushered outside, they began to gather in groups of two or three or more. They flocked to the sandbox, the jungle gym, or the swings. They climbed trees, threw around balls, or just ran around in circles like idiots. Some of them played in the dirt, hell, some of them were eating dirt.

Chester just stood there, mystified. What were these kids doing? How did they know what to do? Why were they automatically, instinctively, able to socially interact with each other? What were these unspoken rules that governed their behavior?

Curious, Chester tried to awkwardly join in with the others. But none of it made sense to him. Instead of throwing the ball to somebody, he threw it at them. Instead of eating dirt, he was shoving dirt in other kids’ faces. The more he tried to fit in, the more he got things wrong and the worse he made the situation.

He got in trouble. He was labeled a bully and separated from the others. Which only confused him more. He didn’t understand why he was unable to easily grasp the “normal” things that other kids took for granted. Frustrated, Chester decided to turn his back, (Figuratively, of course. Literally would have been extremely difficult, those kids were spread out and moved pretty damn quickly.) he found people too difficult to comprehend, so he decided not to even try.

Effectively cutting himself off from other people his own age, Chester needed to find other ways to occupy his time. So he turned to the written word. Books made more sense to him. They followed rules and logic and the behavior of the individuals was fairly predictable. Fiction (his favorites were by an author simply known as Mr. Brooks), biographies how-to manuals, romance (yuck!) Chester read them all. And in doing so, he believed that he was understanding human behavior a little bit better with every sentence. Every chapter helped to unlock the mystery that was the people around him.

Every so often, thinking he had things figured out, Chester would try stuff, like making friends, or small talk, or even dating. But much like the proverbial dancer with two left feet, he just couldn’t make things work, everything was always slightly askew.
With every failure, Chester would run back to the world he knew, where things made sense and his questions were answered. He decided that the real world was nothing but a confusing place full of unanswerable questions. And the worst part was that people just did, they never wondered why. To them things were the way they were and they thought no further about it. Meanwhile, Chester had nothing but questions. Why were some clothes appropriate for certain situations, but not others? Same with words. The same thing went for behavior: why was it alright to call somebody an insulting name when it was a friend, but not when it was a stranger? And what about driving? That was an entire world of befuddlement in itself! But every time he posed these questions, he was told to shut up, mind his business, let it go.

As time passed, Chester grew older and his separation from the rest of humanity grew deeper. To some he was considered aloof, to others heartless, to almost everybody else, incomprehensible. They would give him drugs or therapy, but to Chester they never seemed to understand that the problem, the defect, was with them, not him. So his life continued; an island of one.

Then one day, Chester met a woman named Roseus. Roseus seemed different than most people. While not as inquisitive as he was, she did have many questions about how things worked. But unlike Chester, she found pleasure and happiness in wondering how and why things worked. That was most attracted him to her, she was able to question, but strong enough (stronger than he was, in his opinion) to not let the lack of answers or logic make her jaded or alienated. With her, Chester had found a balance to his own personality and he was happy to discover that when he was with her he started to care less about the answers. He was, in spite of himself, becoming “normal.”

But just as Roseus’ personality rubbed off on Chester, so was his rubbing off on her, until the morning came when she woke up, rolled over in bed and could only look at Chester in disgust. To her, he didn’t understand that what he had with her should have been more than enough. Instead, he was unrelenting with his questions, his quest to rid himself of his confusion and everything that kept him from being normal. Didn’t he understand that he was special? Much better than “normal.” Why did he insist on ceaselessly asking questions? If he wasn’t satisfied with her alone, then what was the point of being together?

And so, while he still slept, Roseus slipped out of bed and removed herself from his life.

It was the first time Chester had ever felt sadness. He wasn’t quite sure what to do with it or how to behave. He just knew that he was again alone. Possibly for good.

So he quit. He gave up on observing, he gave up on questioning, he gave up on understanding and being normal. He gave up on caring. He finally understood that he’d never get answers or a normal life. He was who he was, for better or for worse.

With that realization, he locked himself away. He felt that it was best for him, for Roseus and for humanity in general. He just existed. Alone. As an island of one, he was finally normal.

Until the Blue Fairy came and turned him into a real boy.

I dunno, the story seemed to bum you out. I just wanted to cheer you up. Merry Christmas kid, here’s your coupon for a free chiropractic exam.

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