When I was growing up, my mother pointed out to me that, among my aunts, uncles, and myriad cousins (along with any spouses and offspring that had accreted to them), the ones that I liked best invariably had the “worst” personalities, moral characters, and behavioral track records. At least according to the standards of our petit-bourgeois world. This was true, but not entirely true. My absolute all-time favorite family member, my mom’s elder sister, Ann, was a saint–all self-effacing and genuine sweetness and tenderness. I adored her and named my daughter after her. I still cherish her memory and talk about her to my daughter’s daughters, my grands. But I digress.
Once I got considerably older, I noticed how many of my closest friends (a majority of them artistic types like me) were “peculiar,” as my mother would have put it–vulnerable, even fragile creatures, given to unconventional behavior because they recognized norms only grudgingly as they went about their business of making the world continually new. I was happy, at this point, to discover what Morison Cousins, the great designer of Tupperware, said: “People who are the most interesting are often neurotic. The ones with good sense almost lose their allure.”
© 2007 Tobi Tobias