Alright folks, I have something I have to confess. At one point in my life it would have been a tough confession to make but now at 42 years old I can embrace this truth and call it what it is. It is who I am. So, are you ready? Well, ready or not, here I go.
I, MaLea Perkison Jr. , hereby admit without question that I am most definitely “weird”. Yep, that’s my admission and I’m sure there are many folks out there (who know me well) who would be willing to confirm this fact. Listen, it isn’t as if I mean to be “weird”. It just happens. Yep for me “weirdness” just happens. I can’t explain it. It comes naturally to me. It’s similar to how some folks have the natural ability to do math or play an instrument. Well in my case I have the propensity to be “weird”. I promise you I’m not exaggerating. Let me give you a few examples.
First, how many of you out there find the urge to save a worm you see in the middle of the road about to be squashed by a car? Would you be willing to stop an oncoming car in order to get the worm to safety? I’m guessing there aren’t many of you out there who would. Well, since I am confessing I must admit I have not only saved many worms from the middle of the road but yes, I have even stopped an oncoming car in order to keep the worm from getting squished. However, does it make me any less “weird” if I told you it was my partner who was the on coming car? No? I didn’t think so.
And if that wasn’t enough of an example to exemplify my “weirdness”, I have more. Yes, lots more!
When I go on my many walks it isn’t unusual for me to keep an eye out for any unfortunate creature who may need my help. Often, I will save a worm or two that I see in a puddle of water. G-d forbid! I can’t have one drown! It bothers me to the core to walk by one without helping it. What if I was that worm? I’d want someone to help me. And if there are large numbers of drowning worms, I easily become overwhelmed and feel guilty I couldn’t help them all. I know! I’m talking about a worm here. There is just something about animals (and worms) that bring the “weirdness” out of me. There is a squirrel who lives in a tree in our backyard. When she sits on a tree limb that is close to our fence, I always say, “Hey squirrlley! How yah doing?” Now, I know I’m “weird” but I fully understand the animal is NOT going to answer me. I just think it’s rude to be looking at each other and at the very least one should say hello.
Here’s the thing when it comes to other living things. I don’t like to hurt any of them even when they are in my house. If even a bug is in my house, I will go to great lengths to try to capture it to take it outside. There have been times when in the process of saving it, I accidentally killed it, and in those cases man do I feel terrible. I can’t help but think what if I were that creature? I wouldn’t want to be squished. Heaven’s no! That’s also why I feel even worse when I’ve tried to save it. Once, I volunteered to help our veterinarian hospital by taking care of two birds that were rescued. Once they are nursed back to health, they are re-released back into the wild. Well, folks, I accidentally killed one of them. It was terrible. Needless to say, I never did that again.
But, it’s not only animals who bring the “weirdness” out of me. Nope, not at all. I’m proud to say my “weirdness” is non discriminating. Get this- when I am in a public place and I see someone I know (but I can’t remember their name), I will go right up to that person and start rattling off a list of personal facts about them. Yes, I know. Most people would either walk away until they remembered that person’s name or go up to the person, say hello and even say something like, “Where do I know you?” Not me, though. Instead without meaning to I scare the shit out of people (especially since in most cases they don’t remember me). I don’t mean to scare them and sadly I don’t even think about what I am doing-obviously. In my head I’m trying to remember their name through the facts I remember about them. However, I understand I shouldn’t be saying those facts out loud and certainly NOT to the person. But, I don’t think about that until after I’ve scared the hell out of them. One time when I was in a local bookstore I saw a woman who I had recognized. I couldn’t remember her name which bothered me. But instead of going up to her and introducing myself I chose to walk right up to her and say, “Don’t you have two children? A boy and a girl? Doesn’t your husband work at the so and so company and y’all vacation in Florida every summer?” Yes, well, I’m sure you can only imagine the look on that woman’s face. She didn’t have a clue who I was and how I had so much personal information about her. Typically, it’s my own partner, Carol, who will tell me what I’ve done and only then will I think to introduce myself. However by that point I’ve freaked the person out so much they just want to get away from me.
And folks, my people “weirdness” gets better! Once when I was taking a summer trip to Israel I was on one of those really large planes. You know the ones that have a row of seats to the right and left and one down the middle. Well, during this trip I was sitting towards the back and was in an isle seat on the right hand side. Not that it really matters for the sake of this story but for whatever reason I had to tell you. Anyway because I hated to fly, I got very very nervous before and during the flight. So as soon as I got on the plane I took my dramamine to help me relax. I fell asleep and woke up about three hours into the flight. When I woke up I noticed I couldn’t find my eyeglasses. I began to panic because they were my only pair and I needed them to see. I began sorting through my things on the floor in front of me but I couldn’t find them. The people around me noticed I was panicking so they asked how they could help. Before too much time had passed I had at least 20 people helping me search for my glasses. The longer time passed without me finding them the more nervous I got. After 15 minutes and still not finding them I got out of my seat and started looking on the floor around me. But, I wasn’t alone. There were those other 20 people also looking with me. As I was standing in the isle bending down to look under a passenger’s seat, a woman who was helping me search approached me. She stopped to ask me what the glasses looked because she wanted to get the flight attendant to make an announcement over the intercom. With great frustration because the woman had stopped me from my search I rudely told her, “My glasses are orange and are shaped like cat eyes.” Just as I started to turn away from her to continue searching, the woman said, “So, they aren’t the eyeglasses you are wearing?” Just as she said that I could feel the blood rushing to my face. OH NO! I had been wearing them the entire time!? How did I not know that? Well, I had to think quickly. I couldn’t have all of those people thinking I was an idiot! After all I had another 5 hours on the plane with them. So, I turned around and looked at the woman and said, “Gosh, no! I am looking for my spare pair that look just like the ones I’m wearing.” I then said, “But at least I have these if I can’t find my other pair.” She had to know I was a total idiot. First of all, my beet red face had to give it away and second, as soon as she pointed out I was wearing the glasses she could clearly see my entire body relax. I couldn’t believe I had 20 strangers frantically looking for the very glasses I was wearing. OY! Only me!
Another time during one of my trips back to the States from Israel I had to sit in the middle seat. I hated to be trapped but the flight was packed and I had no choice. I was out of dramamine, so when I noticed the headphones and TV, I thought that would be a good distraction for me. When I put the headphones on I looked for the right buttons on my chair to change the TV channels and to make the sound louder on my headphones. I started to panic when I realized the TV worked but my headphones didn’t. The thought I’d be on the flight for 8 hours with no distraction sent me into a total panic. I frantically started pressing the volume button (as if that was somehow going to make it work). Next thing I knew the gentleman to my left (who was sitting on the isle seat) jumped out of his chair all while trying to get his head phones off of his head. He had been resting in his seat while listening to music. My first thought when I saw him “crazily” jumping out of his seat was lucky me to be sitting next to a weirdo with out being able to use the damn TV. Just as soon as I had thought that, it dawned on me what I had done. I had been pressing his volume button! I felt terrible. Here was this seemingly nice older man (probably in his late 60‘s) relaxing and I with one push of a button scared the shit out of him. Who was the weirdo then? Yep, that would be me! Once again, only I could manage to do such a thing.
Now as if all of those things weren’t enough, how about this? It is not uncommon for me to be wearing the same clothing whenever you see me (of course with a wash or two in between). And it’s not uncommon for me to leave my house wearing a piece of clothing inside out and/or backwards. In fact I will go through the entire day before Carol notices and points it out to me. The sad part is I have no idea I’ve done it until she tells me. Now when I was in college and was taking art classes, I purposely wore my shirts inside out. Because I inevitably ruined my clothes in the art studio (getting paint on them or whatever other chemical was in the studio) I tended to wear the same clothes over and over again. So, when the outside of my shirt was full of stains, I was known to flip the shirt inside out and continue to wear it. In fact before Carol and I were dating I remember her coming up to me during painting class to tell me I had my shirt inside out. I will never forget the look on her face when I told her I was aware my shirt was inside out. She was shocked I’d admit doing it on purpose (because of stains on the other side). At the time I didn’t see where it was so weird. Having no washer or dryer I was only preserving my clothes. So, what is my excuse today? Why do I continue to wear the same clothing? Well, what if I said my excuse today is I like to keep the amount of laundry down. Don’t believe me? You’re right. I have no reason except I am comfortable. I like my one outfit and that’s that. As far as why I wear my clothing inside out, well, sadly, I can’t explain. These days I don’t do it on purpose so I must admit it’s very disconcerting.
And as if all of what I have told you so far wasn’t enough to prove my “weirdness” to you, I’m certain this next part will certainly convince you. Get this- while I’m sleeping I will yell all kinds of obscenities. I swear to you I am completely asleep and I have no knowledge of what I’m doing. I’m serious. I have witnesses! My son has woken me up on several occasions so that I’d stop. The other night Carol said I was yelling (in my sleep), “G-d damn, fucking ass hole!” And get this- she said according to what I was saying it was all over a mop. A mop! Really? Come on folks! How “weird” is that?! Now listen, I am no angel and I do use a few colorful words now and then but the words I use in my sleep and how I use them are by no means what I ever would think to use in my waken state. Imagine the looks I get from my friends and family when I’m telling them what might happen during the night when I am spending the night with them or if they are at my home. At first I think they believe I am exaggerating. However, once they hear me they realize I was not. Sadly, I often don’t disappoint (in proving them wrong) as more often than not I give quite a rousing show. Ask my step daughter who just recently spent the night with us. Folks I was sleeping upstairs and she downstairs and apparently she heard me very clearly!
Here’s the thing. It’s not as if I wake up in the mornings and say, “OK, MaLea, what “weird” things can we do today?” Here’s the thing. I know I could excuse my turrets in the night (as Carol calls it) because after all I can’t help what I say when I’m asleep. But then, what’s my excuse during the day time when I’m fully awake? Can’t make up any excuses for those situations.
Take me cooking for example- It never fails something dramatic happens whenever I’m in the kitchen cooking. Once I was making pancakes. I had placed the flour mixture in the bowl and was walking it to our stove. Now folks, our kitchen is literally about 7 feet long and 3 feet wide. Me saying I was walking it to the stove meant I was taking literally one step over. Well apparently that was all I needed for the next thing to happen. As I took my one step I seemed to have slid on something slippery on the floor. As I was sliding I felt the bowl wanting to fall out of my hands. I was worried I was going to drop the bowl on the floor and break it. As it started to slip out of my hands I had a brilliant idea. I’d just give the bottom of the bowl a little push towards the stove (hoping it would land neatly there). But, why would that happen? Instead of pushing the bowl towards the stove I ended up throwing it towards the ceiling. Luckily as the bowl was coming back down I was able to catch it so I was able to avert that disaster. However, I only caught it after the bowl had flipped upside down once and spilled the entire contents onto the stove, floor and me. Carol must have walked into the kitchen just seconds after it happened. She took one look at me and the floor and said, “Good Lord, MaLea! What the heck happened here?” Before I could answer she replied, “Never mind. Whatever it was I’m sure it was done in perfect MaLea form.” And to that she was most definitely correct.
Oh and listen to what I did last week. I was walking my dogs and I passed a house that I have admired for years. Carol and I love the 1950’s/60’s style and this house was the epitome of that time period. I had often daydreamed that we had bought that house and of course lived happily ever after. Well, you can only imagine how shocked I was when I saw a bull dozer demolishing it. I stopped in front of the house and while staring at what was happening I stood frozen in disbelief. But of course in my MaLea fashion, I didn’t stop there. As I stood there I said, “Who’s the idiot to have such a great house torn down?!” I hadn’t realized I said it out loud until I noticed a woman (with her two young children) standing to the right of me. She gave me a wave in such a way as if to say, “Hello! I’m the idiot.” I smiled at her, gave a tug on my dog’s leashes and proceeded walking. Whoops!
And folks, believe it or not my “weirdness” continues. Carol and I had gone to her parent’s house. I was driving. When we got there, I got out of the car, grabbed my purse and proceeded to head to the house. As I was Carol said, “MaLea, don’t you want to take the keys out of the ignition?” If that’s not enough I on a daily bases lose my keys and my cell phone. Also, I worry incessantly. Because of that Carol has banned me from reading the labels on medicine bottles about the side effects. The fact is I will psychosomatically have one of the reactions if I do. Meanwhile, I don’t have to read a label to take my worry overboard. Oh no, not at all. I can have a pain in my arm or leg and before you know it I’ve made it into something catastrophic. I must give credit where credit is due and that would be to my wonderful, imaginative brain.
Listen, I’m sure you are thinking, “I wonder when she knew she was “weird”?” That’s a fair question to ask. If I am to be honest with myself I suppose I have always known but I didn’t have a name for it. When I was about 9 years old I remember my mom telling me, “MaLea, you beat to a different drum. You’re different than other people. Know that’s OK and never let other people put you down for it.” At the time I didn’t have a clue what she was telling me. In my early 30’s I thought I had it figured out. Then, I thought she was referring to me being a lesbian and with my partner we have a child who we raise in the South and in the Jewish religion. But, that wasn’t it. Now in my 40’s I have realized my own mom was actually trying to tell me I was “weird, kooky” (of course in a loving motherly way) and I just needed to embrace who I was. Momma, where ever you are in heaven, thank you! Alright, I may be “weird” but I’m not dumb. Of course my mom was referring to me being a lesbian but I’m sure she saw my “weirdness” as a small child too and suspected I’d have to deal with that as well. I’m sure she knew that it too wouldn’t be easy. And truth be told, it wasn’t. There have been times where those crazy, “weird” things I do upsets me because I know they have kept and keep me from many normal things in life. I know they have caused many obstacles in my life and have kept me from certain successes I wanted. Listen, do you remember having a toy when you were a kid where you would take a specific shaped block and stick it into the same shaped hole? So, if you had the square block, you’d stick it into the square hole. Well, I have to admit I often feel like a square block trying to be shoved into the round hole. I just don’t fit. TO me the round hole represents the normalcy that is expected in life, in society. And no matter how much I try to shove myself into that round hole, I can’t ever seem to fit. So often I wish it wasn’t necessary for me to fit. Why can’t we just co-exist? Why can’t there just be an understanding of our differences and from there we utilize the talents that come from both? Unfortunately that isn’t how life works, is it? Here’s the thing. I am not against conformity and I do see an importance for it. But, try being the square in a round world. How can one conform to a world they can’t fit into or understand? Just today I heard someone say, “Everyone has a talent and a special ability. It’s about finding that specific talent and fitting it into the larger society.” That made perfect since to me. I have to stop trying to fit my entire (square) self into the (round) world because it clearly doesn’t fit. Instead I need to find a smaller (square) part of me. I don’t know how in the hell I’m going to do that but maybe it can open up some new options for me. I hope it will allow me some peace with who I am allowing my “weirdness” to work as an advantage instead of what has been a disadvantage.
I, MaLea Perkison Jr., hereby admit without question that I am most definitely “ADHD”.