Normalcy on Trial

Do you only like to listen to a radio when all the lights are off? Perhaps your favorite sandwich is peanut butter with mustard. Maybe you are reading this from the confines of a Hughesian bubble for fear of germs. Does this sound like you? Then you might be normal.

When you were young, did you ever sit around with your friends and debate who was the most normal? My friends and I did, several times. Along with the Who is Going to Get Married First debates, they were always very interesting discussions. One of the more intriguing aspects, upon reflection, is every one of these conversations followed a consistent progression.

Each and every one of us would start the debate with the same position: “No, I am NOT normal.” The discussion would then continue with surprisingly articulate and powerful arguments. Soon, someone would start to be won over. “I agree. Steve is kind of weird.” And then the conversation would swing to the roots of our abnormalities. Be it nature or nurture, the conclusion was obvious: our parents made us strange.

I would often begin this segment of the debate. “I think my parents are the most normal.” This would draw a few snickers, but I was always quick to defend. “Kyle’s dad made him sweep caterpillars off the trees.” Someone else would join in, “Don has to mow the lawn ACROSS THE STREET.” The debate would usually end not so long thereafter. On the second question, the vote would be unanimous. Kyle’s dad was a few tires short of a playground. On the first question, no conclusion. Somehow all our arguments had inevitably evolved toward every one of us defending our normalcy. The decision would be tabled to the next meeting.

Before I continue, I better clear something up. My parents are two of my most consistent readers and, while they no longer control my allowance, I had better defend my friends’ snickers.

It had become the common opinion that my parents were, and are, way too happy. Most often directed at my mom, this is not a negative trait but it is rather uncommon. My mom is boisterously joyful. And, especially on the phone, very loud.

My friends, of course, only get to see one aspect of my Mom’s personality: the hostess. While I would never argue that my mom is unhappy, she is a well-rounded character complete with both ups and downs. However, she does seem to be at her happiest when company is over. In fact, the first time I had a girl over, my mom did not stop giggling throughout the entire dinner. “Your parents seem very happy,” I heard later that night. Yes, that is a direct quote.