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The Eccentrics, and Other Bachelorette Delights
Earlier this month, my family took a road trip down to Santa Fe to celebrate my dad’s birthday.
(Happy birthday, pop!)
It was a wonderful family trip, full of important conversations and champagne at dinner to celebrate my dad’s big day, but it was also a delight because my family has very—how shall I put this—diverse taste. Let me provide an example... last Christmas, our gifts for each other included: Hannah Montana lipstick, a subscription to Scientific American, a coffee table book of Annie Liebowitz photography, and the moose eggnog glasses from National Lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation”.
If you’ve never been to Santa Fe, please let me spoil the city’s secret for you and tell you that it’s one of the best places to visit in the US of A if you thrive on eccentric goodies.
In the course of two and a half days, I emerged with:
- cartons of candy cigarettes (2)
- book of temporary librarian tattoos, including a skull with gothic font that says “Alas, Poor Yorick” (1)
- large red paper star with a 40 watt lightbulb in it for my apartment (1)
- unexpected satanic / red light district glow that currently emanates from my apartment as an unintentional side effect of buying a large red star light (1)
- shiny Spanish Loteria plates because nothing says ‘have a cookie’ like a bright red anatomical drawing of a heart staring up at you during dinner parties (3)
- coffee mug with a 1950s dame resting in bed with a bright smile and the words “I love not camping!” (1)
- pirate stamp that imprints a skull & bones in breakfast toast (1) [a couple of years ago, my mom gave me one with the Virgin Mary on it—“Holy Toast”—it gets a five-star reaction when you make grilled cheese for friends]
- the classic ‘little black dress’ (1)
Ok. That last one’s not too eccentric. Unless it’s occasionally paired with low-tops and a Charlie Chaplin necklace, which is more than likely, given my lack of will power and the contents of my closet.
Santa Fe is an interesting place to visit—it has the dusty, tumbleweed-filled, spooky nature of old Westerns; delicious enchiladas and blue corn tacos on every street corner; sangria for lunch and fine wines for dinner; and the best art galleries I’ve ever been in. But the thing I appreciate most about Santa Fe is the way that it helps me embrace and appreciate my funky style. Take, for example, this fashionable Tim-Burton-esque dress, which costs more than my apartment and even manages to make the hanger look chubby:
Last year, on a similar trip to Santa Fe, I sat in a hotel bar and wrote the first scene of a play on cocktail napkins while sipping a scotch (neat, as my old man taught me) while listening to a guitarist perform southwestern renditions of Judy Garland and Johnny Cash songs.
A few years before, I acquired an incredible four-post bed from a Santa Fean artist who made each post into a thin tree trunk that branches out into a leafy metal canopy. Every night I fall asleep under the shadows of thin tree branches on my walls, and wake up under a warm quilt thinking to myself, “I love not camping”.
On this particular trip, my family and I enjoyed famous photographs and paintings as we strolled the streets craning our necks, searching for any sign of the comedian Eddie Izzard (who was in town, and who I’m so obsessed with that I can hardly stop thinking about long enough to write this essay). We drove home with a bronze statue of a business man with bare feet that spins on a hidden Lazy-Susan-type apparatus, appropriately titled “Your Turn”.
It’s hard enough to find other people who appreciate my taste, but an entire city full of vintage cowgirl posters and dinnerware with robots on them?
Shut the front door!
Eccentricities are my favorite spice of life because they remind me that the serious things—frustrating work decisions, bad days, the quarter life crisis, and the occasional heart-wrenching moments—are not going to overrule the daily opportunity for a splash of humor, or vibrant color, or a memento from childhood that elicits enough nostalgia to be justified.
Here’s the thing, to be honest-- I’m a terrible cook. I really do try, but somewhere Rachael Ray has a mug shot of me in an orange jumpsuit in a file marked “dangerous cooks still loose in society”. Sometimes, I say awkward things, or I’m dressed a little funny.
This morning, as I was trying on shoes at DSW (Discount Shopping Women), I had one ginormous 1940s high heel on my right foot, and a sneaker with a Kangaroo on my left foot. It dawned on me that despite my struggles with culinary skills, fashion, and social graces, I do substitute shoes for oregano, and red paper star lights for perfectly coiffed hair. I add spice to my life with pink messenger bags, terrible puns, and party tricks where I draw mustaches length-wise on my friends’ index fingers so they can hold it above their lip to deliver speeches like Sam Elliot or Stalin.
In a vanilla 9-5 existence, nothing makes a day sweeter than someone who will draw outside the lines with you. The people who I’m closest to are experts at making an evening into an homage to The Big Lebowski, complete with bowling and bad German nihilist accents, or an adventure with merely a camera and a basement at our disposal.
I know that it will make my mother* cry a little bit to hear it, but I enjoy the cravings that I have to wear my plastic Little Orphan Annie necklace with a business suit, or the pleasure of reading by the light of my leg lamp from the movie “A Christmas Story”. I enjoy dressing up and attempting to tame my Pippi Longstocking cowgirl hair in the quest to be taken seriously and make something of my life, but in any situation, a little bit of tackiness goes a long, long way in my book.
(*Please note that “my mother” has an asterisk here. Although she is much better than me at wearing twin sets, always knowing the polite thing to say in public, and being an even-tempered, wonderfully logical person, even she has a secret eccentric side. If only you could see the gleam she gets in her eye when thinking of the character “Ginger” from the movie “Chicken Run,” and if you knew how much she wanted to be Ginger in another life, complete with a Steve McQueen demeanor and a lovely set of feathers—you’d know that even my well-dressed, perfect manners mother is partially to blame for my genetically inherited appreciation of all things quirky)
I don’t have enough successful life experience to give too many people advice, but to those who may be suffering from a quarter-life crisis, or a mid-life crisis, or even a one-day-long crisis of feeling stuck, unhappy, or at a loss for inspiration, just humor me and just try one or more of the following—
- Push a skull and crossbones stamp into your toast during breakfast
- Wear a pair of knee-high blue-and-black striped socks, even if this necessitates putting a boring pair of socks over them for professional purposes
- Make a mix cd of some boisterous music, including your favorite old-school television themes (for me, it’s Punky Brewster and Family Ties) to play during your commute
- Switch the soap in your home or office with a bar that’s made in the likeness of the Mona Lisa
- Order something that comes with two dinner rolls (or potatoes) and entertain your company with Charlie Chaplin’s dinner roll dance at lunch (*this will also require two forks, a sturdy table, and the ability to make something humorous out of food that looks like chubby feet)
- If seated next to a small, cranky child, draw a smiley face on your index finger and talk to them in a squeaky voice
- If the parent of this small, cranky child takes offense to your finger-puppet humor, offer them a mint shaped like a bullet, or a bacon-shaped band-aid
- Draw an arrow. Tape it to a ruler. Use it in a conversation...
- Quote Garth from Wayne’s World at least twice, using the same intonation and mannerisms
- Sing Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” or “Bicycle Race” at full volume in the shower-- double points if your shower curtain says “PSYCHO” with a drawing of Norman Bates on it, or if you step out of the shower into a pair of Marvin the Martian slippers
Enough from me, before I become an egocentric eccentric.
As Margaret Meade has surely written about in her many studies of ethnography and cultural identity: you will always know the eccentrics by their slightly amused expression, and all you really need to join them is simply a sturdy pair of goggles...
Until next time, neighbors,