Did mommy & daddy neglect to mention that you are a freak?Anja van Kralingen
Yes I am afraid it is quite true, you are a freak. This short communication should remove any lingering doubts you may have and dash any hope that you are not a freak. Let me spell it out for you, to avoid any unintended ambiguity. You are not a normal, well adjusted, respectable member of society. You are not a pillar of the community, someone to whom others should look as an example to model themselves on. You are not someone whom mommy and daddy can be proud of.
You may as well wipe that smug look off your face now. If you think your paltry achievements somehow redeem you from this indictment, they don’t. I know the truth about you. I know who you really are behind that very thin veneer of respectability, that illusion of normality you so comically try and project. Naturally I realise this may come as something of a shock. Not too much of a shock, no doubt you have suspected as much for some time now. Still, I realise that having it so bluntly stated can be a little jarring. I do hope we will still be friends after this, but if not, that’s also okay.
To be candid, I probably number sufficient freaks amongst my so called friends anyway. You see I am something of a philosopher. Well perhaps that is an exaggeration; let me rather say I have some philosophical inclinations. I suspect the more astute among my peers would say I more of a sophist than a genuine philosopher, but be that as it may. The point is, and you will know this if you know any philosophers, that these really are a bunch of proper freaks. Normal people do not read philosophy, let alone study it, make a profession out of it (if one can refer to such an activity as a profession) or a passion. This much was known back in Plato’s days. They executed Socrates for corrupting the youth of Athens with his perennial philosophical discourse. Then already, normal people realised that whilst a flirtation with certain philosophical questions was proper only among the youth and then only for a very short time. Much like certain drugs, I guess, in contemporary culture, most everyone has a drag of a joint at some point, but prolonged engagement can only lead to disaster.
Anyway I digress, back to the question, why didn’t mommy or daddy mention this awkward fact to you back when you when there was still some possibility of rehabilitation? I’m guessing they reprimanded you for many things. A freak, such as you, probably stepped out of line on more than a few occasions. But, chances are they never just blurted it out,
“Listen kid, sorry to break it to you, but you are a fucking freak.”
Not an unreasonable question. They told you about the birds and the bees after all, they may as well have mentioned this. It is perhaps circumspect to own at this point that I have come to recognise that, like you, I too am something of a freak; probably not as freaky as you, but still. And of course I wonder why my folks, God bless and keep them, never broke the news to me. Of course, I too suspected that all was not quite normal with me as a child. I remember the pained expression on my mother’s face when some of my freakier aspects revealed themselves. My dad, God bless him, took a perverse pride in my freakiness. He was himself incorrigible, and so recognising that I too was a freak, took some pleasure in seeing his line continued. My mom at least made an attempt at normality. She failed of course; a freak can never win out in the game of normality. But she made a valiant effort, I’ll give her that.
I married a freak and unsurprisingly my kids are freaks too. I haven’t broken it to the little critters yet. For perhaps not dissimilar reasons your folks held off telling you what they really thought. They just seem so happy, so blissfully unaware of the fact that they are freaks, that I cannot bring myself to break the news to them just yet. My youngest son, in particular, is so invested in the game of pretending to be normal, staying beneath the radar, being painfully aware of any unwelcome attention. Of course at his age, he is seven at the time of writing, he doesn’t realise it’s a pretence. He actually thinks he is normal, or is being normal. He certainly hasn’t got me fooled though, the little freak.
I find it interesting to observe how, although he is quite intent on this perfect alignment with the golden mean of normality, in his fantasy life he actively acts out the freak. He is a gorgeous child. Of course every man says his children are beautiful, but in his case it’s actually true. His physique is quite heavy set, particularly in relation to his brother who has a very wiry build. And whenever he assumes an imaginary identity, in one or other of his many fantasy games, he is always someone “a little bit fat”, or “a little bit round”, in line with, I imagine, the image of his freak that he carries in his own inner world. His older brother is, if anything, freakier than him, but totally ignorant of what a freak he is, being still in a state of complete unselfconsciousness.
My daughter, who is seventeen, has actively embraced the freak. To the extent that only our strict parental censure has held her back from various bodily ornamentation that aims at concretising her inner freak. Still I’m not kidding myself, she is out there. And no doubt plans to let her freak loose a soon as complete personal autonomy is hers, that is in a couple of months in other words! I recall fondly the occasion her mother (the freak I married) and I were called into her school, over some concerns about what she had been producing in her art class. Drawings and the like, not without artistic merit, but, admittedly, the stuff of nightmares; no doubt fuelled by her avaricious consumption of pulp horror films. The look on her teacher’s faces, yes they sent two in to face us, would have made a good portrait in incredulity when we confirmed their unspoken suspicion that, as the saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Maybe at this point you are still desperately clinging to the I-am-normal-life-raft, after all, is it not the writer who sounds like something of a freak with his very own Adams Family. The latter is correct, I and my family are freaks, I readily admit this, but mostly so you won’t feel so lonely in the land of the freaks, not because you’re normal. Trust me, and I have this on good authority, you’re not normal.
Let us consider for a moment what normal actually looks like. To have any chance of being normal the following criteria are a minimal requirement:
You had better be under 50 years old, ideally under 40.
After that you just old man (!); old and let’s be frank probably pretty ugly. Certainly not someone anyone would find attractive. If you have any sense of social decorum after fifty you should stay at home as much as possible. Your physical presence is not exactly easy on the eye, and you’re probably a little smelly too.
You had better be thin.
Yes fatty, I am talking to you! Do you think fat is attractive? Do you think it’s normal to be fat? News flash, it’s not! The reason they refer to obesity as a growing disease in the Western World is not because there is not enough of it to go around, or they are trying to frighten the anorexics into eating something. The reason Mister Noakes is laughing so jovially (or at least as jovially as a thin person can) with his private banker is because of you fatty, you and your ilk. Given carte blanche the normals would have had you sterilised so you don’t propagate. But failing this final solution approach, in the interim they are trying the Noakes diet. In any case, since we’re on the topic of procreation. How exactly do you fatties have kids? And here I’m praying the answer is artificial insemination, because the alternative is pretty gross!
The list goes on in this vein:
Reasonably good looking, in possession of all your limbs, a full head of hair (and yes it does need to be washed daily!), good personal hygiene (without being a fanatic), a snappy dresser (not too snappy) and so on.
If you are already out of play, then the joke’s on you bud. You didn’t get it that those were essential elements in not being a freak?
I will assume your pretence at not being a freak is still intact, and I trust this includes the vast majority of my readers, the alternative is almost too horrible to contemplate. Now where it gets a little more challenging to remain in the classification: normal, is that consider, being normal means:
Not going to Church on a Sunday (or a Synagogue or Mosque on any other day). Did you not get the memo; there is no “God” dumbass! Read a book sometime, why don’t you.
Not being a mofie, or queer for that matter. In fact any of the following definitely mean you are not normal, being homosexual, metro sexual, hyper sexual, hypo sexual, too many goddamn sexual fantasies; basically anything involving sex that is not done missionary style, with a person of the opposite gender, with the lights off, and in the context of a stable relationship. And of course without having too much fun! On the other hand, being too sexually conservative in our hedonistic age can also be a kind of perversion.
Not being greedy, but also making sure you get your own.
Caring for others, but not too deeply; well adjusted relatedness is what we are looking for.
Being educated, but not overly educated so that you become a layabout , justifying yourself with the title ‘academic’.
Getting ahead, but not at the expense of others. In other words only stand on the right people’s throats, not those who will squeal about it afterwards and expose you as a ruthless social climber.
Don’t be too creative (a definite sign of mofie-geid), intelligent (any IQ over 120 puts you squarely in the freak domain), sad (what the fok are you sad about man, just get on with it) or curious (you know what happened to the cat).
Don’t be too talented. A little talent is good, necessary even. Too much is just showing off and definitely not normal, unless you consider being a precocious narcissist normal.
Avoid any form of excessive passion, caring too much and too deeply about anything will invariably steer you off the well paved being-normal-road into the rocky territory of freakhood.
And the list goes on. The best I can do here is paint in the very broadest of strokes what not being a freak looks like. Being totally ‘normal’, this aspirational goal so many of us acquire during childhood and later relentlessly perpetuated by society, enforced by the media, is an elusive state. Being normal means being so middle of the road, vanilla, and straight-laced that it is more or less a state of non-existence. Being “normal” it seems is actually abnormal, ergo it denies its own proposition.
My indictment of you personally though, of your character, is beyond simply not being normal. I trust that the fact you are not normal is by now self evident. I believe you, like me, are a proper freak. And what I want to suggest to here is that the profits are paltry and the cost very high in the being-normal game. If you are invested in this mugs game (being-normal) ask yourself the question, who exactly are you doing it for? Your mom, God, the local parish priest, your friends, your spouse, who exactly?
Well what is worth getting is that they, like you, are all freaks.
Like you, someone told them normal was good and tragically they believed it. Perhaps if you allow yourself to really get your freak on, you may, as a value added consequence, give them permission to be the freaks they actually are. And, whilst a little strange, would a world of freaks not be interesting? Now to be clear I don’t mean that if one is a freak one is necessarily an anarchist, one might be of course, but it is not a necessary implication. I don’t even mean you should not try and get on the world, make your packet. You can definitely be a freak and still be a capitalist. Some of the best capitalists in history were freaks. The whole point of being a freak is liberating yourself from any ideology that dictates your identity.
Jung had it that the freak, counter intuitively, was the ultimate guarantor of civilisation. The freak because she participates in society, but is not defined by it, holds her centre against mass psychology, which has a tendency to periods of insanity.
A challenge one faces in embracing the freak, even if one is willing to withstand the immense pressure of needing to conform to the ideal of the normal, is knowing in exactly what way you personally are a freak. This is admittedly something of a conundrum, because all formulae for living become prescriptive, creating the very normative constraints we are trying to unshackle ourselves from.
Or to out this a little simpler: no one knows better than you exactly what kind of freak you are.
Nevertheless, if you’ll keep that caveat in mind, I’ll gesture in the general direction you may find your unique freakhood.
What is your greatest passion? What, if you are completely honest, gives you the greatest joy?
Where do you find meaning? Doing what, where and with whom?
In what way are you idiosyncratic?
How do you differ from your family or friends?
Who are you in your fantasy life?
Which fictional or actual character did you most admire as a child?
What type of information do you consume most readily (fictional or factual)?
What secret passion, views, ideas or inclinations do you hide from the world?
What does your “cave” look like?
Where do you go in your imaginary world to slake your thirst when parched by prosaic reality?
What does your true skin look like? If you were to fully embrace your freak, what would you wear?
These are, I hope, some fairly easy questions you can engage with and if you are imaginative they should be quite a lot of fun to investigate. They are obviously not intended to provide you with conclusive answers. Rather their intention is to open a crack in the door of repressive normality, so that you can see what may lie beyond it.
From one freak to another I salute you!
Until next time,
Stephen, a.k.a. Lebman