My 4-year-old daughter Aurelia watched the classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer TV special for the first time this past Christmas Eve.
Silly as it may seem, it still captures my imagination in much of the same way it did when I was her age. I’ve always identified myself with the plight of Rudolph and his irregular olfactory appendage, and Hermey the Elf’s fascination for dentistry, and how their narrative reminds me so much of not fitting in for most of my life.
As a child, my friends and siblings were all out playing sports. I could spend hours daydreaming without even noticing it. Or I would read all day. It’s not that I didn’t play sports, I just never really cared about them. And that’s a sure recipe for pariah-dom for any American male younger than 18 years old.
Even now, at a time in my life and point in our social climate when it’s cool to be weird, I still find myself somehow different than my peers. It no longer bothers me like it once did, but it’s as if whatever situation I am dropped in, certain aspects of my capital-S Self are highlighted — usually things that I had been previously unaware of, and that distance me from others.
For example, I left the popularity rat race of high school and went to college. I had thought that by going to a Christian college, I’d be able to be more myself than I did when I was embarrassed by my religion in public high school. But after four grueling years of trying to reconcile what I said I believed with what I really felt (and even then after two additional years of living as a missionary and high school teacher in Argentina), I came to understand that I don’t and never really did have true faith.
Now there exists this unseen, yet palpable divide between myself and many of the friends I had made before coming to these admissions (saying “conclusions” would be a little to final).
Among my current circle of friends, I still exist as an anomaly: a misfit among misfits. I’m married and have two kids, but can still be found at our local pizza shop/bar/music venue several nights a week. I’m into Apple products and social networking, but I have this crippling fetish for typewriters (especially my Olivetti Lettera 32). I wear vintage clothing, drive a 1980 Volvo 240 wagon and read David Foster Wallace, but tend to be passionate about things in ways that my friends might not understand (and might not be healthy).
So, I’m a perpetual misfit. Or perhaps everyone walks around with his or her own bag of paradoxes, and I’m just more tuned in to my own peculiarities than I am to those of others. However weird I may seem to myself or my peers, though, I’ve learned to embrace it — discomfort and all.
*Note: This first appeared as a much shorter version on SoulPancake (the header image source), Rainn "Dwight Schrute" Wilson's side project.
My name is Marcelo Asher Quarantotto.I WRITE WITH WORDS, PHOTOS, VIDEOS, WEBSITES AND MUSIC.
I am a father of three beautiful daughters and husband to the most gracious, saintly creature I've ever met. (You'll find pictures of them here from time to time.) I am also a multidisciplinary storyteller.