I am so weird. In fact, if I wrote a list of all the ways I am weird, you’d be reading until January. And that list would only include the weirdness I recognize. Add to that list the things my husband and children find weird? You’d be reading until 2017.
As for you, my friend? You’re weird too. Maybe you’re not quite as weird as I, but let’s face it; you’re pretty weird. I know this because each and every one of us humans is weird. We all think weird thoughts and do weird stuff and like weird things. I know, I know. You didn’t know that I was weird. Or that Jay, the guy you work with, is living in some kind of fantasy world, believing he can re-win the affection of his one true love. Nor did you know that Anastasia, the woman who lives in the apartment above you, kind of likes it kinky. Or that Harry, the guy who works in the deli department, actually has a secret other life, one where he assumes the identity of a powerful wizard. You didn’t know any of that because humans are all quite good at concealing at least 90% of their weirdness, at least in public. I, for example, wouldn’t dance with my cat in public, cradling him like a big, fat, bad-breathed baby, while singing “Sweet Little Kitty Kitty Face,” a song I made up. No I wouldn’t. If I did, you might think I was weird.
But that’s just goofy-weird, right? What about our darker weirdnesses, the thoughts and fantasies and habits we conceal from 100% of the world, maybe even from ourselves? I understand why we are so worried about revealing our weirdness, but it makes me sad that we are. It also makes me grateful that we have fiction.
With fiction we can explore our true selves in the privacy of someone else’s–Jay’s or Anastasia’s or Harry’s–story. As we are privy to the darkness, failure, and moral ambiguity in the lives of fictional characters, we feel less isolated in our weirdness. Fiction normalizes weirdness. With a good piece of fiction, a reader reaches the end and thinks, Yes, this author has told the truth. He has told a truth about me. About something I thought no one else felt.