Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Not a fan of reunions of either the class or family type. They tend to be opportunities for those who have achieved by society's standards to brag and those who have not to get to be the example of what not to do with your life. Guess which category I fit in?

One of the reasons I lean toward superhero fantasy is that the heroes are misfits, at least a lot of the time. For instance, while swave, cool, rich Bruce Wayne leads a life that's the envy of anyone in Gotham (or anyone in the world, for that matter), it's his tortured, driven alter ego who sheds the tuxedo by night to wear the cape of the bat, walking in the gutters and consorting with the sleeze of the city.

The X-Men, at least as originally conceived by Lee and Kirby, are also outcasts. Genetic freaks, hated and feared by "normal" humanity, have to hide behind masks and behind the walls of Xavier's school for "gifted youngers" to keep from either being lynched by mob justice or dissected in some government lab. While touted among other mutants as "homo superior", the next stage in human evolution, they also represent another marginalized segment of our culture: victims of birth defects.

Matt Murdock is blind. Yeah, his other senses are great, but he still can't see a sunset or watch a movie. Ben Grimm, though incredibly strong, was hideously disfigured by exposure to radiation. Cyborg, AKA Victor Stone, was also disfigured by an interdimensional massive gelatinous monster and only survived by having the damaged parts of his body replaced with experimental prostetics. The Doom Patrol's Cliff Steele, otherwise known as Robotman, had his body completely destroyed in a car crash and miraculously lives only because his brain was transplanted into a completely mechanical body.

Yeah, extreme examples compared to "real-life", but despite their heroic identities, they not only don't fit in to human society very easily, but are almost completely assured that they'll never have relationships the way most people have. If your body is robotic, will you ever have a spouse and children?

We have such "extremes" in our world too, but not of the superhero variety. People are injured and mutilated every day. How many people have prosthetic limbs (that don't make them as strong as the Terminator)? How many people are blind, in wheelchairs, disfigured, suffer from Downs Syndrome, are terminally ill, are chronically in pain? And Kermit the Frog says "it's not easy being green". Tell that to the Hulk.

That leads me back to my original statement about reunions. In the film Star Trek: Generations, Geordi is kidnapped and subsequently tortured by an Elorian scientist named Sorn. At one point, before the torture begins, Sorn queries Geordi about his visor, asking why he doesn't wear a prosthetic that makes him look more "normal". Georgi asks Sorn, what's normal. The reply is "Normal is what everyone else is and you're not"

Not sure normalicy is the currency by which acceptance is bought and sold at reunions, but I'm pretty sure compatency is. Example. I was once told by a very attractive lady that dancing is sexy. She implied that she'd probably hook up with a guy who was a good dancer. We got along in just about every other way, but guess who has two left feet?

I was reminded of this over the weekend. Hung out with some relatives. Uncle was there. Uncle's a nice guy. Very successful. A CEO type of guy, but not too hard to talk to. He also took dancing lessons, Very graceful. Says everyone should do it. I broke out in a cold sweat. Remembered the first and last jazz dance lesson I was talked into. Felt like a hippo among gazelles.

Uncle is successful, like I said. Very good money maker. Understands investments. Talked about the plan to take his company public. Everyone else in the conversation seemed to understand all of the strange words and phrases being tossed about like ancient sanskrit. Yeah, Uncle left his wife, moved out of his huge mansion digs into a more modest setting. Took up with a new woman. Says it's helped him relax a lot more. Still friends with the ex. She even showed up with one of the kids (grown). Everyone says he looks a lot better. Leads a charmed life. I hate reunions.

We're all more or less comfortable in our own wombs and cocoons. All by ourselves, we can be depressed, but we can be depressed and still safe, without the intrusion and judgment of the world around us, especially by those we are supposed to be closest to and safest with. A roomful of strangers would be safer than a gathering of relatives. Everyone wants to know what you're doing now and what your plans are. Socially acceptable activities and plans are rewarded. Socially unacceptable activities and plans are punished.

You can't dance. You can't make money. You aren't successful. Your car isn't a Porsche. You don't understand business or investing. Your house isn't big. You can't afford the latest iPhone. You suck.

Yeah. Being "outside the box" is supposed to be a good thing, but only if you can make money at it and it's a socially accepted and approved area outside the box. It's really still inside the box, just relabeled. If you're actually operating outside the norm, you're just a misfit. Unlike superheroes, being a misfit doesn't come with the benefit of being really strong or having wings. You're just ugly.

Not a fan of reunions of either the class or family type. Reunion is over. Time to crawl back in the cave, lick my wounds, and overcome enough intertia to get on with day-to-day life. Got to let the memories of other people's expectations fade. Time to put on the mask and hide behind the walls.

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves...
Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)

Epilogue: The quote from Shakespeare's Cassius is a reminder that fate or circumstances aren't the final authors of what happens to us and how we think or feel about it. We are.


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