January 3rd, 2007

The Hilarity of People

I should preface this post by explaining my Theory of Normalcy.


To put it concisely: ’taint no such thing.  


To put it less concisely: there’s no such thing as normal people; there are only people who are weird the same way you are, and who therefore appear to you to be normal (but who actually are not, because there’s no such thing).


(Think about it: I’m sure you’ll see I’m right. Unless you’re weird in one of those other ways.)




In an effort to start as instantly as possible to cross off my goals for the month (as well as to strike items off my weekly To-Do List), I phoned two people I’ve been intending to interview for the nonfiction book proposal I’m requiring myself to finish by June 1. (I was totally humiliated to realize I had obtained these guys’ phone numbers from their brother in September TWO THOUSAND FIVE. How bad is that??!)


So I phoned the first guy and explained who I was, what I’m doing, and that his brother gave me his phone number. He readily agreed to meet with me. Then we started talking about his other brother, whom I hadn’t yet phoned, and he said, “Why don’t you just tell him when we’re getting together, and he can come over here at the same time?”


(Note to self: remember the value of volunteering siblings for tasks they may not otherwise have chosen to undertake.)


So I phoned the other brother, explained who I was, what I’m doing, that his brother gave me his phone number, and that his other brother said he could come over to his house next Wednesday at 3, which is when I’ll be there. And he said, “That sounds like a plan.”


Simple as that. I mean, I could be an axe murderer! Don’t people consider the potential danger of meeting with strangers who claim to be writers?


Then I phoned the proprietor of a store that sounds interesting enough to feature in my bimonthly column in a local weekly insert in the regional daily paper. And we spent about 20 minutes on the phone—this was a call just to arrange the interview, mind you, not to actually conduct it—while he told me about his friend who works at the paper who’s promised for years to get him into the paper, and all this time has not made good on said promise. And then he added, “I’m willing to talk to you, although I really want to be in the daily.”


I love it when people make concessions to me. Because it’s so important to me to give this guy’s store free publicity.




Then there was the nun.


So I’m at the police station, chatting with the volunteer coordinator about the various cool programs the Orange Police Department is able to offer thanks to the dedication of its cadre of volunteers. And then the volunteers file in, and the volunteer coordinator starts asking who’s willing to be interviewed in more depth about their volunteer experiences. And she calls on this tiny, brittle old lady, who shakes her head frantically and slides lower in her seat.


I get this. As I always say: if anyone ever wanted to interview me (which would never happen), I think I would freak out.


But this woman is fascinating (she was in the Navy during The War [not sure which one], and is a volunteer chaplain for the PD, and is a nun), and the volunteer coordinator is pretty determined. So she asks the nun to tell me about the chaplaincy program, which she does willingly. (Like many people, she’s reluctant to talk about herself, but willing to discuss an activity she thinks is valuable.)


We move on to other volunteer programs and other volunteers, most of whom are plenty willing to chat.


Then the volunteer coordinator asks if she has everyone’s permission to give me contact info to get in touch with them again—and the nun nods her head vigorously. “I won her over,” I whisper to the coordinator. She laughs. And then the nun asks, “Can I say something?”


I really did win her over, I said to myself.


I self-talked too soon.


“I think this is long overdue,” she snapped at me.


So I’m thinking she’s not weird in quite the same way I am. I’m also thinking I better tread carefully when I phone her up to interview her in greater depth. And I’m further thinking that maybe I’ll play it safe, and dedicate the rest of the week to revising my novel MS. The characters may not all be weird the same way I am—but even the bad guys don’t scold me in that universe.


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