Monday, May 30, 2011

Cat With Thumbs

A couple of my Facebook friends posted this British TV commercial. It's for a brand of milk, and it speculates on the idea of cats with thumbs:

This is Janis Joplin. She is a cat I inherited when I moved into this house. She actually has thumbs:

As the owner of a polydactyl (i.e., thumbed) cat, I can tell you that she does not open doors, read books, or file her nails. However, I have entered my basement (where she lives) and found mouse intestines strewn in front of the furnace. The other day I found a cave cricket near her bed, with the head ripped off. I treat this cat like an elemental--she can be sweet and loving, but I always have a wary eye on her darker proclivities.

This, by the way, is a cave cricket:

I probably have several of them in my basement, but aside from the headless one, I've only seen two others. They hang out in the basement stairwell. I call them Fred and Ethel. I have no idea about the sex of either of them--I didn't check. And my policy on cave crickets is I don't mind them being around, as long as they don't jump on me or end up on my clothes or in my hair.

Besides thumbed cats and striped crickets, I encountered another mismatch yesterday evening. I have been writing an article on H.P. Lovecraft, and I came across a couple of articles about the Cthulhu mythos. They suggested that Cthulhu and the Old Ones were not deities at all, but aliens, and that humanity was an accident. Lovecraft was no occultist; he was more of an existentialist than anything. His stories suggested the power and indifference of the cosmos, and how insignificant we are in the whole scheme.

I noticed that the author of two of these articles was Robert M. Price. My interest was piqued when I saw that he went to the same theological seminary where I got my graduate degree. As it turns out, this is the same "Bob Price" that served as minister when my now ex-husband and I were married in 1994. I had no idea he'd written about the Cthulhu mythos, and I wasn't sure I'd expected it. On the other hand--this is the same Dr. Price who, when we were writing our wedding service, said, "we'll just delete all that Jesus stuff out of there." Lest I get him in any trouble--he was tailoring the service to my husband and I, and had more "secular" versions of the service. We did not want a religious service.

Life and the people you encounter in life are often surprising. In reflecting on my last blog post, we have very curious ideas about what is "normal", and what pattern people's lives should follow, given what they've identified with. As someone with a Religious Studies Master's degree, people are usually surprised (and perhaps uncomfortable in some cases) with my interest in the occult. Then again, I never went to school to be a minister; people just assume that this is what one does with a Religion degree, or what one aspires to do. I suppose that I was surprised by Bob because he DID become a minister--a Baptist minister, at that. But, I don't think it's "weird"--in fact, I applaud his openness, which could only benefit his congregation.

I've been labeled "weird" by people before, and not just for my esoteric interests. I had a friend once who was very attached to me, but whenever we went out with her friends, she always introduced me as her "weird friend". I never really understood why I was considered "weird". Then I considered that her life revolved around hanging out in bars, discussing stock portfolios, and moaning that she was too stressed because her husband didn't shower her with affection daily and she wasn't appreciated enough at her job. One day I said to her, "maybe you're unhappy because you have no passion. Your life revolves around your husband and your job. Your job sucks, and your husband is a busy executive. Maybe you need to find what really interests you." She looked at me like I had three heads, and then intoned, like a mantra, "I don't know why I'm so depressed."

When I think about myself, the places where I don't intersect with the "norm" are--not being married, not wanting children, not waiting for Prince Charming to sweep me off my feet, taking responsibility for my mistakes and problems, and accepting the negatives in life as much as the positives. Oh, and not basing my life and career on how much money I can make. If I've read the literature correctly, this comes out to being at least reasonably "psychologically healthy". Which, by some social standard, makes me "weird".

Of course, they say that one in twenty-five people are sociopaths, and one in one-hundred are psychopaths. Which would make psychological disease the norm.

I often reflect on this when I think I've chosen a risky life path. Given the norm, I'd rather be a cat with thumbs.

1 comment:

Mark Donahue said...

Normal is, I think, one of those terms that doesn't really have a set meaning. It is almost entirely dependent on context, and in this way it's more like the relative, shifting sands of words like "obscene", "funny" or "cute".

The myth of Normal can be seen as a hideous, deforming pressure upon the psyche, much like the (curiosly enough, abnormal)body images portrayed by models and actresses can warp the self image of a non size zero teen girl. (or guy. you know what I'm going for)

Normal ultimately comes from fear, because at the bottom of the desire, affinity, for normalcy, is fear of those with power.

Don't make waves. Don't stand out. Just let it go. Don't be "weird".
Or if you are Weird, be the weird end of the normal scale.

Wear a cheesehead and paint your body for a football game? Normal. Wear robes and anoint your body with essential oils for a ritual? You're nucking futs, and maybe a Danger to Society.

I too was a Religious Studies student (BA not MA) and people naturally assume I want to preach.

Not so much. I want to learn.

There is a line that once crossed, marks you as Enemy. Jesus crossed it, as did al-Hallaj (and Lenny Bruce and Timothy Leary).

Normal is nice, for sure. However, normal for me is not normal for you is not normal for the nice old lady next door.

And yet... we pretend it is .

Excellent post.