Our very own Bagwan has been contemplating life’s rich pageant of late and posed the question to we the unwashed,… are you normal? Given his ascendance to uncertainty we collectively should not only read his profound message….but “Be all you can be” as normal is an elusive mistress. Please enjoy:
I think it is normal to consider yourself normal. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that guys like Cush and Charlie Manson think of themselves as normal. If forced to come up with some things about myself that aren’t normal off the top of my head I can identify two. One that surprised me is that according to AMA guidelines my alcohol intake is well above normal for an adult male my age. However, it would be considered normal for 3 adult males my age. The second abnormality that comes to mind is my obsession with Joseph A. Banks ads and the glee I feel when they run the ultimate “Buy One get Three Free.” That is abnormal because I have no intention of buying anything at Joseph A. Banks.
I’m going to have lunch this week with a very dear old friend who I haven’t seen in over 20 years. Bill Collins is in his mid-70’s and just recently buried his wife who was either the 3rd or 4th Mrs. Collins. You’ll have to excuse my confusion but I asked him and he’s not even sure. Bill Collins is memorable for his calm demeanor and his abuse of cannabis. Bill’s father was an old hillbilly who had a clear take on what is normal and what is not. He would hear about someone like a John Wayne Gacy who was convicted of raping and murdering 33 teenage boys and burying their bodies in his basement and sum up the situation with his standard comment: “You know there has to be something wrong with somebody who would do something like that.” You wanted to scream, “NO SHIT!” but the polite thing to do was just nod in agreement.
Ever since my self-imposed exile from Curmudgeon Corner I have taken off in search of the perfect bar. I haven’t even come close but I have met some interesting people along the way and I have also encountered more difficulty in figuring out this whole “normal” thing. Over at a place called Monahan’s there is a bartender by the name of Victoria. Victoria is 28 years old and if you squint real hard she kind of looks like Senta Berger in an old Matt Helm film. Victoria and her current boyfriend (Eddie) have custody of their combined output of 6 children. No two of the children have the same two parents. Victoria’s 3 have 2 dead fathers and 1 missing. Eddie’s exes tend to be in jail or substance abuse programs. Here’s what gets me, as abnormal as that “family” sounds, when I went in last Wednesday Victoria was doing the most normal American thing I can think of — planning a trip to Disney World for all eight of them.
I am tempted to say that there is no such thing as normal but that’s not true. There is a normal heart rate and a normal body temperature. There is a Normal, Illinois which got its name for being the home of the state teachers college, which used to be called normal schools. There is the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws which goes by its trying too hard acronym of NORML.
Maybe the problem is that there are too many “normals” and just when you get used to what you think is normal someone comes along and tells you there is a “new normal.” One piece of Bagwan advice: anytime someone runs out the term “new normal” on you, be very wary. If something is now the new normal it was just recently considered abnormal. The chance of this being good news is about the same as the chance of getting good news after someone asks, “Are you sitting down?”