If you were online in a wanting-to-date capacity roughly four years ago, and you were man enough to be aged 38 to 48 and actually seeking same instead of a 12-year-old, and you lived somewhere within a 10-mile radius around the Undisclosed Location that serves as communicatrix HQ, you might have stumbled upon this:
Loyal, fierce, sunny, slight, myopic & astigmatic, mildly obsessive, eternally optimistic. Adherent of no man's dogma; unapologetic devotee of the Truth. A self-actualized diva-dork with enough of a past to keep things interesting; a student who is eternally ready for the next teacher to appear.
The usual folk: smart, kind, interesting, self-evolved. Anyone who makes my heart beat faster when I have them in my sights, who lingers in my head afterward AND who can make me laugh...hard. People who will introduce me to beautiful new sights and sounds. Fellow travelers who make my heart sing. You know: the good stuff, baby...
The first paragraph was my "About Me"; the second, my "Who I'm Looking For." Yes, this was my online dating bio on the Onion personals, part of the now-defunct Spring Street Networks, which also incorporated the LA Weekly, Nerve and Salon personals, the latter being the entry point of choice (so to speak) of The BF.
You might have emailed me; more often than not (after the beginning, anyway, when all new ladies are chum in the online dating waters), I would have emailed you. For a while, when you put in your search parameters, the photo at the top of this post would have been what you saw, not, even I knew, a typical online dating key photo, which is exactly why I picked it.
Sometimes, you have to put out a hoop to see who will jump through it. Even if doing so flies in the face of all the great advice from all the people who have gotten somewhere before you. Sometimes, without even knowing why, your inner freak tells you it's time to hoist the flag and see who salutes.
What's interesting to me about this bio, this "what I want", this crazy-ass picture, is the thread that they are a part of. They're not about what I want in a date or a mate; they're about what I want, period. They're about who I am, what moves me and what deep, deep down gets me going. Re-read the paragraphs: they are not about walks on the beach or hot sex (not that there's anything wrong with that) or getting partnered up. Take them out of context and they're nothing more and nothing less than ABOUT ME. They're about the thread. They are the thread.
It's a thread that's been running through me as long as there's been a "me" to me, and that thread weaves that freak flag which is mine alone to fly. Not that I flew it all the time; I didn't fly it much at all for months or years at a time. I folded it neatly and stuck it away somewhere, like the memorial flag presented to the military widow. Freaky me was in indefinite suspended animation, so what the hell did I need (or want) to be flying that flag for?
You fly it anyway, though. You do. And by "you," I mean "me." I mean everyone.
We're all us of us big, fat, hairy, circus freaks, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. We're all crazy, five-year-old genius-artists somewhere way down deep, who don't know yet that you have to shut the hell up because GROWNUPS are TALKING, or because WE DON'T DO THAT IN CHURCH, or just BECAUSE I SAID SO, THAT'S WHY.
Kids aren't stuck, and they don't need to get motivated to do their work. Which they excel at, by the way. All kids can draw. All kids can sing and write plays and build castles. All kids can write stuff that makes you laugh and cry at the same time.
All kids run around, until they're stopped, buck-ass nekkid, letting their freak flag fly.
And sometimes, in tiny little steam-valve surprise releases, we do it as grownups, too. They're the moments you respond to in movies, and the things that make you laugh in real life. Comics make a living holding up special mirrors so you can see your freak flag. Writers, the good ones, do the same thing.
So like I said, I had mine safely packed away for many, many years, but every once in a while, I'd pull the drawer open and you'd get a peek. Sometimes, someone would be there to witness, like the proverbial chance pair of ears in the forest when the proverbial tree gets heard: the head shot photographer who took the above photo, or the better half who catches you talking to the rye toast. More often than that, I'm guessing, the drawer-cracked-open moments passed without notice.
Of course, to the rest of the world, I'm sure that most of the time, I still looked like a stone goofball. I worked it, you see, because it was my angle. But the authentic stuff came out so rarely pre-Crohn's-induced epiphany that I totally get why I was "difficult", as one close friend told me later, to be around before.
If you get stuck (and really, who among us doesn't), consider letting your freak out of the closet. Just for a spell. For a few moments, maybe, in 250 words or 3 minutes of stream-of-consciousness writing. In private, you know, at least, at first. Because if the perfect is the enemy of the good, the freak is often, oh, shit...is ALWAYS the engine of it. The freak makes things happen.
Make it a (brief) freak holiday. Let the flag fly, just for a bit. Salute the freak in whatever fashion feels good to you.
Then go ahead and (neatly, kindly, gently) fold the flag back up and (slowly, carefully, gently) ease it back into the drawer.
For now. Like the lady said, tomorrow is another day...
This post was inspired by an exhilarating phone call with my new almost-real-life friend, the fine and brave writer and thinker Dave Pollard. Pick up the phone, people. Even if you hate it. Especially if you hate it.