Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

February 21, 2012

The Freaks and Me

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

I was at it again . . . that is . . . people watching.  Sitting in the mall watching people go by — it happened twice.  Once, it was a young man and woman.  Then there were several young men.

They all were dressed differently from the norm in the mall.  But what really set them apart was the style and color of their hair.  One young man had pink hair on one side and green on the other side.  Several of the group had high spiked hair . . . and different colors.  One young man even had a ribbon in his hair.  The clothes . . . well . . .  I will not even attempt to describe.

But all of them were happy, jovial, and friendly.  As they passed by, I looked at them, but not in a condescending manner.  I smiled and nodded.  They smiled back . . . one or two of them raised their hand to respond.  I was not bothered by their appearance and I wanted them to know it.  I know nothing of their morals or conduct, but for that moment in the mall they were not different from others — except in their appearance.

I began to think about what I had just seen.  Have I changed?  Years ago I would have called them freaks!  Or weirdos!  I know that the word freak was a condescending term for years as it referred to some disability of a person, but in the 1960s and 1970s, the word freak commonly described a person with something unusual about their appearance or behavior.  The persons using the term to describe such were persons who used their standard as the norm.  These young people to whom I spoke were freaks by the standard of the norm today.  And some would have called them weirdos!

But we don’t really call them freaks — we just recognize that they are different!  Or so we assume.  Some of these young people may be attempting to make some statement . . . or they may just enjoy being different!  Perhaps I find myself being a little defensive for them.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I am not defending rudeness, immorality, rebellion, or whatever might cause some to dress this way, but I am  saying we don’t know their motives.  I want to be careful in my judgement.  I do witness some young people with hairstyles and dress that have attitudes that convey certain messages to me.  But I come back to those I saw in the mall.  There was nothing to cause me to think they were immoral, illiterate, or rebellious toward society.

Those young people in the mall caused me to reflect back on my days at that age.  I don’t know that I was ever called a freak or a weirdo,  but by the meaning of the term in the 1060s and 1970s, I may have been a freak at times in the 1950s.  I recall some dress styles . . . and hair!  I remember using peroxide to make part of my hair almost white.  I remember shaving my head bald like Yul Brynner.  I recall painting a pair of shoes with regular high gloss enamel paint.  And you should have heard the response when I walked into the gym that night at a ball game!  There was a time, perhaps even with the red shoes, when I borrowed some strange, weird looking vest from a friend to wear to a ballgame that was so loud you could never wear it on color television.  Or that pink shirt with a white tie and white suede shoes!

As I recalled some of these strange appearances . . . perhaps I could have been called a freak!  I don’t ever remember a derogatory remark . . . but I did get attention.  Was that what I sought?  Or did I just enjoy being different this way?  Is that what these young people in the mall wanted — attention or just to be different?  If so, I am glad I gave a positive response to them.

Perhaps they responded to my friendliness because they were thinking, “Man you look like one of us . . . just much older!”  We freaks have a way of identifying with one another!

” . . . live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.”  (1 Peter 3:8)



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