Thursday, October 16, 2003


I like the word. I like the way it sounds, the bald anglosaxophonicity of it. Plus, I have decided that I am a freak. In the old sense of the word. "A product of irregular or sportive fancy," or "a sudden causeless change or turn of the mind; a capricious humour, whim or vagary." From "dancing," explains the compact OED, which I can just barely still read without the magnifier.

I put forth this theory to my internist during my physical. The topic was my cleverly having contracted a riproaring case of the adult version of rickets. She reassured me that I was not the only person to have done so. Paused. Added, "maybe the only doctor, though."


Freak freak freak freak freak ! Lusus naturae, to be more Latinate about it.

Am I, though, a freak of nature or nurture ? I had the blandest of childhoods. (I am reading "Running w/ Scissors" -- compared to that, anyone's childhood seems Leave-it-to-Beaverish.) We're talking WAY beyond Winnicott's "good enough mothering." I had more than enough of everything a kiddo needs.

Thus I must posit nature as the culprit.

And Erik Erikson.

Of course that's like crediting evolution itself to Darwin, and not the nature of things. But what the hell.

A few years ago I wrote a series of poems based on Erikson's "Eight Ages of Man" (yes, MAN) in "Childhood and Society." It's a staircase-like schema along which one moves, optimally, from Basic Trust to Ego Integrity; in my case I seem to have chosen the stairs that ascend from Basic Mistrust to Despair, tripping along the way on shame, guilt, inferiority, role confusion, isolation and stagnation. Or at least that's how it seems some days.

Of course I'm giving a less than nuanced reading of his text.

But I'm convinced that the basic existential and neurochemical factor in my life has been shyness. All my freakiness flows from that, or from my ill-considered rebellions against it. Club feet ? Well then ! Be a ballerina ! Terribly shy ! Why not practice medicine ? Same freakin' thing, no ? Well, no, I suppose not.

I suppose Big Pharma would have me popping Paxil for my "social anxiety disorder." Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will run with effortless small talk.

I am always reminded of a bit from a Woody Allen movie where he takes an employment aptitude test, and finds out he's most suited to being a "shepherd."

Mine would advise Trappist monk, I'm sure.

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