The older I get, the more I realize that none of us are as weird and ill-fitting as we feel. We put up the face of whatever it is we think “normal” is supposed to look like, and tie ourselves into knots because it’s an act and we’re convinced that if anyone ever saw us as we really are, they’d run screaming. Like how I used to run around frantically cleaning my house before someone would come over and then nonchalantly apologize for the “mess” – which was in fact cleaner than it had been in ages, but wasn’t Cleaver clean so I was supposed to apologize. I have finally accepted that I am not that person with a clean house, and have given up apologizing for the mess, because the fact of the matter is that this is me. If you want to love me, you have to love my mess. If you happen to come over during one of the five days every six months that the house looks great, lucky you, but I can’t pretend that’s me anymore. Maybe someday it won’t be, but for now it is. Shaming myself over it certainly isn’t going to make it any better. Also, I’m pretty sure most people with immaculate houses are either hiring someone to clean or struggling with OCD. There are probably also people who just casually like to clean, but for lots of people it’s probably hiding some sort of terror about not fitting. The fence always distorts the view of the other side.
And yet, we all do it on the internet all the time. Look at us, only posting pictures at our most fabulous moments and then zeroing in on whatever slight imperfection we can find. Suddenly everyone knows how to Photoshop. Or do pretty Instagram filters. Just like in the eighth grade, there is still a part of us desperate to fit and sure we don’t. So we do what we’ve always done: we find our tribe of people who are similarly weird, and we create codes so we can recognize others in our like-minded circle of square pegs, wither it’s rainbow flags or “Geronimo!” or using a special word that sounds like gibberish if you’re not inside the specialized circle, we have a secret handshake that says “relax, it’s not just you!”
Blessedly, one of the things the internet is actually pretty good at is showing us how very not alone we are in whatever weirdness we’re about. That’s both bad and good – even some people whose weirdness is immoral (by this I only mean it does harm to another) and/or illegal can probably find someone who isn’t alone in their love of [insert the weirdest thing you can think of – I would do it myself, but inevitably someone would be all, “but I LOVE watching lesbian cowgirls eat soup with forks!” and then it would be all awkward, especially because I happen to love more than one lesbian cowgirl myself. But for anyone who was ever confused by their feelings about stuffed animals, obscure graphic novels, or a very specific make or model of antique RV, the internet reassures you: you have people.
My people are the ones who think it’s perfectly logical to wear a panty on your head in response to a difficult situation, and are willing to share that fact with the world of Facebook:
This is Asha. I had the biggest friend-crush on Asha when I was a kid. We all have that neighborhood kid who is a few years older and seems so impossibly, unattainably cool that all we can hope to do is emulate them in hopes that they’ll accept us…don’t we? Maybe just me. Except it’s almost never just me. Anyway, Asha was mine. She was also the only other kid in the neighborhood, because our neighborhood was a commune 15 miles outside of a small town in the Ozarks and we were both there for the better part of most summers. So she was pretty amiable about tolerating me while I idolized her and did my best to walk in her shoes whenever she’d let me, because even hanging out with a kid five years younger than you is better than nothing. Now, thanks to Facebook and the blessed age equalizer that is time, Asha is once again shining her rays of coolness at me. This time she’s reading my blog and wearing Pantyhats when she’s struggling with illness. If I could, I would reach back in time and tell eleven year old me about Asha and Pantyhats, and how she’s one of my people and it really is all going to be okay. I would also reach ahead in time and thank future Asha for getting present Asha through her tough times with the amazing power of Pantyhats.
I guess my point is this: if I offer nothing else to civilization than the lesson that it’s not only acceptable but crucial to be entirely, weirdly, vulnerably yourself, I will be entirely satisfied. And also that there is probably nothing the absurdness of Pantyhats can’t make better. Evidently including avoiding your doom in black holes, because Science says so. You’re welcome.
Want to be featured in a barely-read blog wearing a Pantyhat? Send me yours, along with any surprising scientific discoveries and I will totally post it.