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Individuality: The Art of Being Different

I always thought that this piece was more than another assignment. So it shall see the light again on here, as a series of 5 installments..


“To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men – that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense;” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

The Basement

There she stood, in the middle of the dance floor, beneath an illumination of an acid trip and lost in a hum of exhausted sound. Her legs were caught in a set of fishnets as she tried to maintain her balance on a pair of scuffed platforms, but instead swayed like a stick of phosphorous in a pink skirt, a t-shirt of a band that only two people in the room had heard of. Rocking with a hairstyle of a 50’s starlet at a grunge concert, she truly was, an impressionist image with a modernist soul.

I turned back around to the jukebox and resumed a naïve search for a Cream record amidst a dog-eared catalogue of numbers. The place was just another corner of contemporary social acres inhabited by a population as diverse as the genetic structure of one’s organism. Nevertheless, the environment did not matter, we were all there just like we are now, adapting and looking for our favourite chord progressions.

Through the clear waters of ethanol the girl kept dancing, never missing a beat; like a flower child in the basement of totalitarianism. Her friends were less enthusiastic. They sat like princesses atop of peas, analyzing the potential of the representatives of the opposite gender - in particular a duo of lads, who seemed to befuddle them by their preoccupation with me - and criticizing their friend's ebullience.

Now, without sounding too vain, I tend to think that I'm a fairly passable female; given the lack of ovaries. I guess the problem is not with appearance per se, and neither the reaction that it draws - one of a country girl on her first trip to the big city - but the way you reciprocate that attitude and remain consistent in the overall stability of your beliefs.

Folks may judge, but to no effect. The attempts to change me, the happy ballerina on the dance floor, or any culturally defiant individual would equal to Rapunzel pulling out her hair. Sometimes the acceptance into a world of approval calls for a white collar noose and a subscription to Prozac: the basics of assuming the position and opening a textbook.

Nevertheless, the pharmaceutical candies only dull the pain of scrutiny, and help us box-step upon the viscous, soiled floor of a conservative ballroom; though being who you are is another kind of high. In the modern world, any Gen X’er that has shed the skin of a two-tone suit had ended up a prime candidate for psychiatric evaluation, while the offspring of the millennium are administered their daily doses of insanity through electronic treats and toasted microchips that pacify any urge for exploration of alternative mediums; but once again, we cannot blame the ambiance of the place.

One of the fellas in the vicinity had finally denounced his patience and torpedoed of his stool heading towards a curvy blonde at the other side of the room. Having thoroughly prepared his strategy he approached his point of interest and introduced himself before his projected "date" could even react. My quest for a lick of Clapton was a this point briefly interrupted, as the straight golden locks swung around and I swerved away from the record player to face the heedless gentleman who was now experiencing a situation previously uncommon to his existence.

It took him a moment to step away from lecherous intent and accept confusion as the next state of mind. Despite a close assessment of tightly fitting clothing, lacquered fingernails and evenly applied layers of make-up, he could not stop wrestling with the possibility that he was barking up the wrong tree. Now his inquiry went something among these lines:

“Hey…uh, are you a guy or a girl.”

Unfortunately he was bound for disappointment - or a major lifestyle change - but I had to calmly explain that I was in fact of the male gender and that he would have to try his luck elsewhere.

It was resolved, and in a swell attitude may I say, given that in the current age, not everyone is as understanding as that particular specimen. Yet as I watched him return to the table and lean in to his friend whose gaze along with his turned onto me. I sneered in a tact manner and returned to my quest – beginning to think that my endeavor was ineluctably futile - while the pair of 21st century gentlemen strained their minds trying to figure out a conundrum of universal proportions, and commencing a chain reaction of judgment upon reaching an impasse.

This was not the first instance of such an occurrence, and perhaps it may not be the last. Ovid's transformations seemed to serve a certain moral quality, an example of punishment for wrongdoing, and in our current state the changes to our appearances - be they of a radical, "forbidden nature", seem to bring forth a ridicule of their own. I myself have undergone a number of metamorphoses throughout my life. I'll admit that some were perhaps questionable, but without experimentation we may never reach a valuable result. But for those whose outlook celebrates the customs of Halloween on a daisy basis, every venue becomes a re-enactment of the Salem trials.

Galileo was too once accused of heresy, but it is ironic how some movements and beliefs that at time were considered blasphemous have become a sacred part of common law. ‘Sticking to your convictions’ may seem like a hackneyed phrase but it has never been more appropriate. For when a man neglects the urge to salivate at the sight of fine furs and jewels, and chooses an insightful bunch over the spectacle of banal satisfactions, he is may leave a mark of his own.

I am not suggesting a demeanour of a vagabond and renunciation of a throne, but merely the desire to acquire a niche of your own within a stale world of repetition; a questionable aspiration is far more intriguing than one of content. And I never set out to portray any standard trait as garrulous - quite the opposite. It is usually the outcasts who play the victims. But I don't agree with that typification; for me, the stranger you are the stronger.

However, let's once again delineate the boundaries between admirable individualism and downright madness. Opinions are of the most importance in a pigeon-holed society, and the need for the demand of self-expression should be growing by the day. Yet where a healthy 'fuck you' attitude is applauded, a circus act is not - you know, the distinction between enthusiastic androgyny and camp drag entertainment.

The costumes of the characters are going to applauded but they’re not paramount, because even through the washing away of cosmetics and attire, the core of the enactment remains within a solid script. Now the question at hand was; do I use the ladies room or men’s?

(To Be Continued)

© 2019 Anton Sanatov

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