Someone last week announced that I was particular.
But what I thought I’d heard was that I was peculiar.
Both are true.
At the time I assumed it was a simple observance—one like Oh, you have blue eyes or Your shirt is misbuttoned, or even Huh, I guess some people really do like lutefisk.
But in retrospect I think the statement was more like Huh, I guess some people really do like lutefisk—slathered with Limburger cheese sauce and perched atop a mound of kimchi.
Of course even I know where to draw the line because, Good Lord, no one in their right mind would serve dried cod in lye next to deeply salted and fermented red vegetables. The colors are just way off.
But I should probably embrace one adjective more so than the other, except after giving it some deep-thought consideration while cleaning out the cat litter (an event that comes just behind sock-folding as far as pensive places for contemplation), I realized that both descriptions justify not simply tolerance, but support.
Maybe even celebration.
Merriam Webster (my three favorite people in the world—yes, three cuz there were two Merriam brothers) states that the word “particular” means: notably unusual, nice in taste, hard to please.
Obviously, that last one was added by mistake and surely the next edition will correct their error, but for the sake of full transparency, I’ve included it above.
The three then go one to define “peculiar” as: special, curious, odd.
Again, I feel as if I could be accused of cherry-picking here, but clearly this is not the case. Undoubtedly, as there are 58,876 words that begin with the letter P, and this day surely brought immeasurable stress and opportunity for the occasional blunder, I shall forgive the lexicographers for that last erroneous entry and dismiss it out of hand altogether.
I am neither hard to please, nor odd.
Except if doing a headcount of humans in my home. Then yes, odd in number I would be.
And I feel extraordinarily pleased to be the odd human at home as there is precious little time wasted instructing anyone but the cats as to the proper way to replace a toilet paper roll. Although they still quibble, with countless power point slideshows, as to the ease of reach for the “under” argument, I, as purchaser of said paper, have final say.
The dog has no opinion and believes it all tastes the same no matter the direction – over or under.
Regardless of one’s paper product preference, I still feel there is much to lionize when one comes across anything or anyone deemed “notably unusual” or “curious,” as these are two terms we have, in the past, sadly assigned negative connotation to.
Reviewing my grade school report cards, I note a handful of examples that reinforce this impression.
Shelley has a lot to say and may benefit from raising her hand less often is not what your Average Joe parent wishes to read on a quarterly bulletin summarizing academic progress.
Nor is If you continue to ask questions during CCD classes, you are risking an interpretation from The Almighty as one of little faith. Our catechism classes are spaces meant for quiet absorption.
My recollection was that neither myself nor any of my classmates were precocious enough at ten to question the four pillars of Christianity but simply wished to understand the definition of “catechism,” and therefore repeatedly drew straws to see which of us would get whacked with a ruler that afternoon.
I mean really, why were we here? This time slot was interfering with our ongoing science project of seeing what 3000 tons of freight train with a rail speed of 60 mph can do to a penny.
I’d say that kind of curiosity deserved to be commended.
To be fair, I feel I should attempt to put in a sympathetic word or two for the case of being determined “hard to please” or “odd.”
In some lights, one might benefit from a touch of hard to please-ness, such as when one has been convinced one’s mechanic has sufficiently fixed the brakes.
An attitude of As long as they’re going to halt the car eventually is likely one that will not serve you well for long. Best to adopt a posture of fastidiousness regardless of the inflated garage shop bill.
And when exploring the depth and breadth of the term “odd,” one must acknowledge that although, yes, it can denote something bizarre or mismatched, it can also highlight that last brownie in the pan which could not be divvied up equally among friends going home after tea, or that one Weimaraner puppy with crossed blue eyes, a paw in a cast, and one undescended testicle.
Q: Why the hell would you want this runty K-Mart blue light special, lady?
A: Why the hell would I not?
Clearly, this is not a case of being hard to please, rather seeing years’ worth of creative writing material.
It’s true—in essence, all of this is simply determined “in the eye of the beholder,” right? You can be picky or specific. You can be creepy or eccentric. It often comes down to how the term is delivered and how it is received.
For the sake of one’s self-esteem, I vote a regular bath among the tissue-thin pages of one’s dictionary where you can steep yourself within myriad meanings of every descriptor ever tacked upon your personhood.
You will come out learned, enlightened, and smelling like a rose.
Which, for most people, is slightly better than smelling like lutefisk.
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