Quirky People Are Interesting
Right from the start it was the quirky kids that caught my eye. Here was I at five, wondering what school was and why we had to play with stale Play-doh, and already the weird kids fascinated me.
Some were subtly different, like the little lass with very fair skin and an Irish accent (though I didn’t know what that meant). I remember feeling fiercely protective of her in the playground, never letting anyone pick on her for her being different. To me, she was lovely, sweet, and I probably thought I’d marry her. But then, at five, you do have some very set ideas.
Other kids were much quirkier though. One boy, a Yugoslavian fresh off the ship, used to steal people’s lunches (guess everybody has to have a hobby). While another lass became famous for sipping milk very slowly, much to the exasperation of Miss Mills, our teacher. Young Pilla would get her 1/3-pint of milk (back then all children were given milk at school to fortify their bones and help us win the Olympics, or something like that).
Anyway, Pilla would start at quarter past nine and keep sipping until eleven-thirty, meaning she and the hapless teacher had to stay in everyday for recess. When the teacher occasionally “blew up” about it, there would be Pilla slowly sniffing as the occasional tear rolled down her fat little cheeks.
I liked Pilla. Not as a 5 year old love interest. But more as someone worth admiring for their quirkiness.
But there were other children with peculiarities who also deserved merit. I vividly remember Edwin Egghead (not his real name – or, maybe it was), who had a cranium perfectly formed into an egg shape (though not pointy at the crown like the movie characters in The Coneheads). To cap it off, his head was accented by the vaguest hint of hair, giving Edwin a visually arresting appeal.
Whilst I thought he looked funny and the way he behaved suggested he had a kangaroo loose in the top paddock, he was our Edwin. So, I wasn’t going to let any of the kids in other classes tease him.
At this point, I half suspect my interest in the unusual was triggered because I was quirky too. Vaguely, I remember wearing Lederhosen and braces to school (as you do in 1960s Australia… not), and feeling completely different to all of the other kids (can’t think why).
No doubt, being the son of an immigrant family and learning English as my second language compounded this. Like most little folk find caught betwixt and tween two cultures, life can seem very confusing.
Actually, my wife Ruth has plenty of other theories why I’m so confused (but that’s another story). What matters is that being quirky is actually quite okay and sometimes rather good.
So if you ever feel like the odd one out and feel a bit like a fish out of water, take heart. It’s great to celebrate being yourself, knowing that you can make an original contribution regardless.
However, if you don’t have a quirky bone in your body at least be kind to your whacky friends and treat them with understanding. Because, while you might be wishing you were a bit wilder, they might equally be feeling that you are pretty cool and “Wouldn’t it be nice to be you?”
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