Don’t you just love the Doors? But this isn’t about music, except one more passing reference. Ray Stevens would be aghast. I think the song lyrics might as well be “Everyone is strange in their own way.”
For decades now, my wife has said I’m strange. I welcome the epithet as an amusing truth. “Why Be Normal?” the buttons and stickers ask. Just so. There is a time and place for eccentricity and normality. Earning a living, of course, may require a modicum of the latter—depending on the work one does. It certainly did for the day job from which I retired some time ago. But let’s get back to strange.
We had met before, my wife and I, at one activity or another of the Buddhist organization we both belonged to. Attending that Halloween party at a mutual friend’s house quickly took us to level of intimacy neither of us had expected. An intimacy that only a few years later led to marriage. A marriage not without its challenges at the outset, but that’s another story. That’s a central part of the memoir, Waiting for Westmoreland. This is a teensy weensy memory about our strange beginning.
We’re both into sci-fi. That inspired our costumes for the party. She came as an alien. Hair an unnatural shade, with face and exposed flesh covered in matching shiny silver. An alternating black and silver diagonally-striped lame knit of sorts covered her torso. I came as Gully Foyle, Alfred Bester’s protagonist from The Stars My Destination. I couldn’t quite master the tiger face tattoo, so I just lettered my forehead “Nomad” in black grease paint. You’ll have to read the book to understand. I added a long maroon caftan and a walking stick to complete the image.
We danced together, we danced alone. I danced around my head-high staff to the thrilled amusement of another partygoer. Thirty is a great time to indulge and flaunt one’s strangeness. It’s never left me. It just manifests in many other ways. What’s life without letting loose the strictures of normalcy. Lighten up. Have fun! She did and I did, mixing our facial paint that Halloween night.
I miss those Halloween trick-or-treaters at our suburban home in Virginia. My faces were way more scary than those who came for candy. Alas, with the seclusion of our dream home in New Mexico from a well-traveled street means we see no children on the annual event. But there are other ways to bring out the strange. Perhaps a topic for another day.