Ever since I got a paddling from my first grade teacher, I’ve followed the rules of “fitting in” obsessively – no cutting up in line, no talking with your mouth full, and no running with scissors. I subscribe to the old adage “pretty is as pretty does,” and the biggy – keep up with those snooty Joneses at all costs.
Hey, not only did I keep up with them, I BECAME one of them. Little good it did me. Suddenly I arrive at the Middle Ages too repressed to say “boo” without blushing. My entire wardrobe is black, white and gray – depressing and lackluster. I do love the color purple but I was led to believe the color was garish and generally worn by floozies. I had no idea what a floozy was but I was pretty sure I didn’t want to become one.
You can imagine how disturbed I was in the 1980s when I was “colorized” and told that purple was my best color. I guess I was a natural-born floozy after all. I still love purple but rarely wear it outside my home. Old beliefs die hard.
I really want to become more adventurous and effervescent. I want to do wild and crazy things and throw caution to the wind. Look, I don’t even cut the tag off my mattresses because the warning clearly states that it’s illegal. I’m petrified that the mattress police will come kick in my door and haul me off to mattress court-just when I least expect it.
I read a study that claims most of us fake normalcy about 90 percent of the time in order to win friends and influence people. Now, here I am on the dark side of 50 and learn that being normal is just plain boring. I made a list of tricks I’m planning to try at my next gathering to prove my commitment to a new wild and crazy life.
1. At your next potluck, yell “food fight” then pick a target and throw a roll. Hopefully someone will retaliate and pick up a handful of food and throw it back. Doesn’t that sound like fun, but don’t count on being invited to many dinner parties afterwards.
2. Dance in the rain. Go outside on a rainy day and dance around in your garden. If it’s during the rush hour, even better. Just be on the lookout for a van carrying white-coated men. They could add new meaning to the term “Wild and Crazy” (crazy being the operative word).
3. Hone the fine art of chit chat. Pretend you’re a reporter and find out whatever you can about everyone you meet. Just never ever let the first question be “Are you married?” You will sound not only boring, but desperate. It will help if you can get your hands on a press pass and a camera.
4. When attending a large function, add PhD to your name on the name tag. I have even added M. D. after mine and people gravitate toward you and ask for free (and useless) medical advice. You can also rewrite your Facebook profile and mention your recent trek to the top of Mt. Everest, or hang-gliding at the Olympics. Anyone can be interesting if they can tell a whopper with a straight face. This works best in a place far far away from your domicile where no one knows you.
Just remember, you can never be old and wise, if you were never young and crazy. Let’s just say I’m doing it in reverse order.