As with most life philosophies, the best ones have been turned into advertising slogans for cars.
Be it living ‘Like always, like never before’, grasping the concept that ‘ life is a journey; enjoy the ride’, or knowing ‘if gas pains persist, try Volkswagon’; you can learn most of what you need to know about life by Googling ‘car advertising slogans’. Much like I did a few minutes after I realised I was definitely going with the ‘car advertising motif’.
One of the things that car advertising slogans and thus, philosophy, teaches us is the aspiration for individualism is important for the soaring of the human spirit.
Live life in your own lane,
Find your own road.
This is not your father’s Oldsmobile
The problem hinted at in the aspirational tenor of these philosophies/predominantly US car advertisements is individualism is hard to achieve and elusive to most. This is what makes it prized so greatly and cherished by those who truly walk to road less travelled.
Individualism is often prized above intellect, wisdom, beauty or gas mileage because these attributes, while valued, are only factors that help you towards the goal of standing out in the crowd.
Like all things in life that are that are difficult to achieve, or take perseverance and savvy, there are cheap short-cuts. For people at least, not really cars. In this case.
You may not be very bright, very attractive, a very interesting person, or indeed have any bell-curve breaking features at all, but you can still fast track your way to being the man apart by simply adopting some affectation that makes people think “Who was that person?”
And make no mistake, Dear Readers, that is more important than any of the things listed earlier that I prefixed with ‘very’.
So what you need sweetums is an affectation.
You don’t mind if I call you sweetums do you?
Now the easy affectation is clothing. Since time immemorial average people have been using outfits to push their normality just outside the bell-curve as to be noticed. The problem is all the fashion have been done. Literally. There’s no more fashion.
The way you can tell fashions is over is the way people talk about things being vintage as a good thing or name-check a previous historical period in modern design. Done.
Of course, this leaves the ‘unusual’ clothing. The problem with unusual clothing is it has also been done. The reason for this is simple: all middle-class people who are not good at sports will, at some point in their formative years, be told that they are creative. As these children grow to adulthood most of them will work out this was mere molly-coddling, confidence-bolstering, or a sugar-coating of the truth, but not until they have dabbled in the easiest form of creativity known to white people: wearing a bit weird clothes.
This is how I, your weblog author, got from ‘realising I couldn’t really kick footballs’ to ‘wearing a signature over-coat’ in just one, sexually unsuccessful year. If I’d been any good at say, slap bass, or creating major public installations I may not have worn the coat. But I wasn’t, so I did.
So clothes are done like the proverbial dog’s dinner as an affectation, and you have to look further afield to stand out.
It is possible though.
Obviously even the low-grade, highly stepped on, TV-dinner version of uniqueness inherent in affectations needs to at least nod towards not having been done to death already, so I am aware of the irony in making a list of affectations for you all to copy.
But since I identified how ironic it is, it doesn’t count, and I’m still golden.
A weird problem
I’m not a fan of the visual affectation. I just talked about the play-outedness of clothes, but I actually think all visual affectations run the risk of being non-responsive. What if you are at a party and there are two guys with corn-rows. What if the other girl has a flesh-tunnel in her ear? What then?…Ewww, don’t take it out…gross…
Having your affectation be something you say, rather than something on you, means you can have several in the can ready to go. Because the can, Dear Reader, is your mind.
I like to pretend I have some weird problem that makes me interesting. People will ask you about it, and if you believe outdated gender stereotypes, men will try and solve it.
The problem has to be unusual. No one is interested in the problems you are having with your boss, unless your boss is a panther. No one really cares if you girlfriend dumped you, unless she dumped you using a panther.
The obvious good weird problem is ‘sex addiction’. Not only is it sort of weird, it makes the person who you are talking to think about you having sex. Which may be a good thing.
The problem with ‘sex addiction’ is the sorts of people who are sex addicts are always the sorts of people you look at and think ‘I bet that guy thinks he’s a sex addict’. It is actually one in a long list of affectations Michael Douglas has ruined for everyone; along with ‘wearing suspenders with suit clothes’ and ‘mentalling out at cashiers in fast-food restaurants’.
Try going for: “I have two hearts. No literally; not figuratively” or “I can taste colours” or even “I was so good at rollerblading in the nineties for some reason the Yakuza took out a contract on me.”
None of these things are true, but all of them make the people you meet think: “What about that guy slant girl?”
Social interaction is a web of conventions sitting below an invisible social veneer. No, not literally, figuratively. A good way to stand out from the crowd then is to snip at that web, or puncture that social veneer. Most of the time it is harmless but it will make people’s heads turn.
Try belching loudly as you enter a crowded room. Try standing silently after someone introduces themselves and, after a social-veneer-warping few seconds of what to ‘norms’ would be considered awkward silence, click your fingers and point at the person saying “I don’t do hello or names; it’s just my shit you know.”
Now I know what you are thinking and I will verbalise it here, in text: That’s pretty obnoxious. Well, is it? Is it may be so obnoxious and out-there that maybe, just maybe, you are actually riffing on the entire concept of social nicety?
Is it not…ironic manners?
That was a rhetorical question.
Please note: almost as wafer-tin as the invisible veneer of social control is the line between ‘ironic manners’ and ‘being horribly offensive.’ For instance, belching as you walk into a room is fine but releasing any of the bodily emissions, even the mouth ones, is not fine.
An interesting smell
Comedian Frank Skinner once probably said that the olfactory senses are the most underused in the arsenal of human sensory experiential tools. Most of the affectations we fall back on tend to be visual, and the other ones described here are auditory, but what of smell. Often smells can lead to you unlocking long forgotten memories, releasing long dormant passions, and chucking out long curdled trifles.
The problem is we most often associate smell with a nasty odour. “What’s that horrible odour?” you might say “It’s probably that dog shit” you continue, pointing at a pile of dog shit.
There is also nothing original or unique about a bad smell. If you fart to get attention, it should be about the noise or the ironic riffing on the lack of social acceptability inherent in public guts-dropping, and not the smell.
We’ve all smelled a fart, and you can’t take flatulence in any direction a fourteen year-old boy hasn’t already taken it. You may think your body odour is an enchanting musk that defines you as who you are, but I would counter with “if you’ve smelled the stiffened white armpit of one Trivium tour t-shirt, you’ve smelled them all.”
No, a smell as an affectation has to be an interesting smell. Maybe not nice per se, but a smell that not only defines you but makes people muse “What is that smell?”
Try dousing yourself in Cointreau before you go out, so you waft into a room on a rich citrus cloud. Try carrying an aged Stilton around with you, or little cubes of Polish salami in your pockets. The good thing about carrying either a pungent Stilton or a peppery dried meat is you are always only four or five more affected people away from having hors d’oeuvres and in many ways, isn’t this the middle-class dream?