And how are you crazy?

A friend forwarded me an NYT article recently titled “Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person”.

It was a well written article and the line that seized my imagination was: “In a wiser, more self-aware society than our own, a standard question on any early dinner date would be: “And how are you crazy?” ”

I love the notion of being able to ask anyone I meet for the first time over a cup of coffee or over a meal “And how are you crazy? And by the way here’s how I am crazy…”. Wouldn’t that make for a memorable first encounter?

In a world where we are supposed to fit in and be normal, where being a simple person is a compliment, preferred over complexity (which is really delusional because we are all complex personalities – unique and layered), we put on a façade every morning to present to the world of “perfect” strangers (did you just pick out the irony of how strangers can be “perfect”?) and normal acquaintances, so that we will appear perfect and normal too, hiding our flaws – the uniqueness and craziness that makes us us.

Too often, people who meet me, after brief introductions, would remark, “Wow, single mom, 4 kids, career – you must be a superwoman and a very organized and disciplined person” (aka a Stepford Wife). And I would honestly tell them that I am not a superwoman, that my house is in a state of perpetual mess, that I barely get by day-to-day with my kids and my schedule, that I do scream at my kids and that I am not as put-together as it seems on the surface (I sometimes wish I could just chuck all my worldly possessions onto a boat and sail around the world right now and when I can’t find something, I will turn the whole house over looking for it, which might partly explain the mess) – in effect, telling them this is how I am crazy.

My comment would inevitably be dismissed as a show of humility. And in that one broad stroke, the uncomfortableness of the crazy would be smoothed over and the world would be restored to being bubble gum peachy again, safe for acquaintances to engage without having to accept any messiness or ugliness. I much prefer crazy – I think it makes the world so much more fun and colourful and you get to know people really, truly and deeply.

So if you ever tell me you are a simple person, you are hereby given notice that I am going to be pretty dogged about figuring out just how you are crazy because I don’t think there really is such a thing as a simple person out there. And telling me that I am a bloody complex person might just be one of the best compliments that you can give me.

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