by L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.
When I was young, I imagined anyone who was especially odd or different as being dynamic and likely beyond my immediate comprehension, being too complicated to fathom. I gave them the benefit of the doubt, if you see what I mean. Those unique individuals were, I thought, exponentially talented, no doubt enjoying a vast realm of worldly experience which gave them licence for what was at times otherwise borderline behaviour. Now – less charitably – I settle instead for their denomination as nut cases! Crack pots! Weirdos! Looney tunes! You name it, the plain fact is that they are on balance unhinged! The drama of their social ineptitude is for me no longer entertaining. I have unashamedly given up trying to psychoanalyze their condition with a view to improvement. The conscious and unconscious elements of their mind which bring to light repressed fears is something best left to the professionals. In my hands, such study is wasteful dabbling at best.
"Why", you might ask, "do I even bother to mention this?" Why not simply be done with such misfits? Dismiss them out of hand! Unfortunately, such a robust approach is easier said than done. The "characters" of this life are not always so comfortably ignored, more so if you have for the past several years been in the unwitting habit of counting them among your friends (at least prior to the rude and pivotal awakening). Often it isn’t immediately apparent that one’s singular friends have "issues" which significantly set them apart. When at last one becomes aware of their "differences" it is sometimes obliging to provide them support in their jarring reality.
The odd thing about this line of thinking is that, upon analysis, one begins to wonder whether any of one’s friends are really all there. With the turning of each page of life, the element of wackiness in one’s associates becomes more and more manifest. Oddly a bit of self-reflection can at times produce the same conclusion. Touching upon one’s countless private thoughts over the past several decades can reveal some startling fodder. Perhaps the entire world has gone mad! Certainly the daily media reports do nothing to diminish the possibility.
While I by no means include everyone in this whitewash, it is an increasingly common occurrence to discover that many of the most stalwart members of our community have their issues, some of which are profoundly disturbing, involving as they do the most exotic behaviour imaginable. Indeed ofttimes the behaviour tends more to the strange and alien. One has to wonder as an aside whether such aberrations are equally prevalent in the animal kingdom; or is this simply the preserve of humanity? If so, it succeeds to advance the case against being overly qualified. In any event, it is not a subject upon which any other than the medical people are likely to dwell at length. For those of us lucky enough still to be counted within the herd of society, we satisfy ourselves merely to marvel at the limits to which some people are (often sadly) stretched. The challenge is to keep one’s own head screwed on, again not always as easy as one would imagine! I suppose that within limits there is even a bit of fun to be had in being off-centre though in polite company at least the disaffection is not always wise counsel. It rather depends upon whether the majority rule is by the whackos or otherwise. The perpetual and imperceptible change in social mores has led me to conclude that younger people in particular have less difficulty accommodating what I might call unusual standards of deportment. One doesn’t like to get one’s nose too far in the air in these matters, if for no other reason than to avoid the appearance of being a complete duffer. The trajectory of change merits at least some appeasement.