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(Ab)normality

28 February 2014

Things that always surprise me when people say them:

“I’ve never gotten a speeding ticket.”

“I’ve never broken a bone.”

“I’ve never been to jail.” (Please note: jail, not prison.)

Why does any of this surprise me? Because earlier in my life, I assumed that everyone thought (and lived) the way I did. I thought all of the above we’re normal parts of life, especially for young men. I assumed just because all of those things had happened to me, they’d happened to everyone my age.

The truth is, of course, that everyone’s experiences are unique. What’s normal to one person’s life is completely abnormal to another’s. Things that I see as a normal part of growing up (those examples above) actually might show a shocking lack of responsibility and intelligence on my part.

Point being: we all see the idea of “normal” through the lens of our own lives. That means there are about 7 billion permutations of “normal,” one for every human. There are averages, of course — things like median income (I suppose that’s considered a “normal” income), but even those vary wildly.

What’s normal to you? Does the concept even exist?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. 28 February 2014 1022

    I’ve had one speeding ticket…52 in a 45 zone I hadn’t entered. (One of those Texas small town speed limit drops from 65 to 55 and then 45. I was in the 55 zone, eased up on the gas to be doing 45 when I reached the 45 sign, but the cop said I was speeding and made it clear that if I didn’t pay the ticket that he had nothing better to do than drive to Dallas to bring me back down to “my town.”)

    I broke my thumb going down a toboggan run on cross country skis when I was younger. I MAY have broken my leg, but I hid it well, so who knows? Never been to jail, outside of being escorted to the police station to get a ticket for fireworks. (We had a friend a year younger with us in the car, and he was technically a minor, so…we had to follow the cops to the station and turn over that friend since his parents had to be notified.)

    Like you, there are things people see as normal that I’ve never done. At an old job, I mentioned not having any kids. Another guy said, “That you KNOW about!” assuming that, like him, I had a lot of one-night stands in the past. But I can safely say that, unless Cynthia somehow hid a pregnancy from me for 9 months and released a child to the wilds or Roanoke, I have no progeny running around out there. (That, and a pituitary puts the hammer down on no kids happening.)

    The one that surprises people most: I’ve never been to a strip club. Not that I opposed the idea, but when a friend was like, “Let’s go!” it always seemed sad to me…two big guys in a strip club on a Wednesday morning at 1:30 a.m.? No thanks! I would not have been opposed to going along with a GROUP of friends, but all my friends are geeks, so bachelor parties were things like, “Come over and hang out,” or, “We’re meeting at a brew pub…and Cynthia can come along…” Now…I simply wouldn’t go, even with a group because I’ve gone 44 years without going to a strip club and it’s funny to see people faces when they assume I have…and I haven’t. (Not that I care if others go, of course…it’s not a moral thing…just not my kind of thing.)

    As an atheist who doesn’t eat animals, I don’t fall into any big norms, there. But…among people not eating animals, I’ve known plenty of atheists…so it’s not abnormal in that group. I have some friends who think it’s perfectly normal to invite others along without notice when plans are made, while I see that as not normal. I don’t think normal really exists, outside of, “Yeah, it’s not normal to kill a person and eat their heart.” But among some very sick individuals, it’s probably a normal thought at the very least.

  2. 28 February 2014 2218

    1) I’m almost 47 and I’ve never broken a bone ( I HAVE had to have an Ulnar Reduction and I now have a steel plate).

    • 28 February 2014 2241

      Bionic arm!

      • 1 March 2014 1557

        I’d torn a ligament in my wrist and the cause was my ulna was too long. They had to remove the width of 2 hacksaw blades from it.

        When I had the cast removed, Neither my wife NOR the doctor could see the “break”

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