People who aren’t odd but try to use oddness as a mark of outsider cool annoy me.
Years ago, L.A. radio station KABC featured the comedy of sound engineer “Waco Pat” Patryla. Funny stuff, I’m told. (I don’t remember hearing it myself.)
Waco became so famous that he did public appearances before college students where he distributed bumper stickers. One for guys said, “I’M A WEIRDO! Join Waco Pat’s fraternity of booze, broads and brotherhood.” (It might have been “beer, babes and brotherhood”; it’s been a long time.) The one for women said, “I’M A WEIRDETTE! Join Waco Pat’s sorority of suds, studs and sisterhood.”
These messages annoyed the scarlet hell out of me.
At the time — the early 1980s — I was not long out of college and had been called weird ever since sixth grade. I was socially awkward, I didn’t know how to dress, I read comic books (definitely not cool for a teenager at the time), I preferred Gershwin to Led Zep, I loved Star Trek when it existed only in syndicated re-runs, and so on.
I had, if you will, weird cred. It wasn’t much, but it was mine, and I had earned it by being in a sometimes ostracized minority.
And I looked at Waco Pat’s messages and thought, “NO! Declaring that you like booze, broads, and brotherhood isn’t weird. It’s normal, especially for college guys.” How dare Waco’s fans call themselves weird when they had never suffered to deserve that word. They were calling themselves members of a minority when they were in the majority, and (in my view) a privileged majority at that. It still makes me angry.
So when I’m at the San Diego Comic-Con, and I see some gorgeous, pampered celebrity try to earn solidarity with the fans by declaring himself or herself a nerd, I find myself muttering, “Yeah? Let’s see the proof.”