The Anatomy of My Weird Characters
The Anatomy of My Weird Characters

The Anatomy of My Weird Characters

The Anatomy of My Weird Characters

I See Strange People

Both my parents were immigrants. It was pretty much all they had in common—they lived together, but were poles apart.

She was a staid, walking cliché who struggled to live the Australian way; he thought he was living it because he could fart the national anthem. Dad, the patriot.

She didn’t swear; he didn’t stop.

She sweated over what the ‘neighbours’ would think; he didn’t give a crap. And the list went on …

On the side of nurture in the nurture vs nature debate, an environment of extremes was the standard for me. On the side of nature was the weird lens through which I unconsciously saw life. My imagination micromanaged me—it parodied perceptions. Life was like an animated cartoon. Life was like South Park on an endless loop.

Seeing situations and people through a distorted lens helped me find the comedy in the tragedy. It was a survival mechanism. Not so much where school lunches were concerned, though. There was no comedy to be found in my packed lunch.

While my fellow students ate their Vegemite or soggy tomato sandwiches or tuck shop sausage rolls and cream buns at lunchtime, eating my lunch became a covert op. My immigrant lunchbox was spring-loaded with an embarrassing assortment: leftover lamb koftas, dolmades, cevapcici sausage, falafel, pita, and baklava.

So much for fitting into the Aussie way of life. Worse: try hiding something on campus, and everyone notices.

My peers mocked me because ethnic fare was uncool in the days before Australia became a multicultural nation, and because adolescents need someone to make fun of. Being that someone was no fun.

Ergo, I worked hard at unweirding myself until, come early adulthood, a Vegemite-sandwich mode of existence had become my norm. But being not-me was also no fun. It was exhausting and it was boring.

Then, fate intervened.

A Taste for the Twisted

My latent twisty filters drew me to people and situations I didn’t even have to imagine.

Amongst them was a woman who, mid-business negotiations, announced she had two ‘vageenas’. And a sixty-something PR guy whose letterhead logo was a pic of himself in the naked, reclining pose of Michelangelo’s Adam on the Sistine Chapel ceiling (modified to have his hand cupping his wiener and nuts—universal ‘fare’).

Freeeeeeaks! you think? But says who? Our judgy and too-ready-to-moralise mindsets that want to cut off any deviances—which, hello, we all have—and turn us into clichés?

A clichéd existence is not good for the soul, nor is a sanctimonious one.

The Right, Rite, Write of Weird Characters

The refracted lens that put a strange spin on how I viewed things is now my lifeblood. My internal landscape is Monty Pythonesque and my book characters are a testament to that.

Having a satirical POV, though, is not about standing on the sidelines like an adolescent and taking the piss out of others because their differences seem threatening.

For me, it’s about highlighting the insanity of aspiring to be quirk-free and ‘normal’—the ridiculousness of thinking inside the box (and marginalising those who have more than one).

Well, I say, here’s to that woman who celebrated her bonus twat! It might have been too much information to share with a stranger, but she was proud of her ‘abnormality’. It was normal for her. And cheers to the brazen PR guy! Although, if you’d Photoshopped the droopy little moobs and cherry-red nipples, mate, it could have been better for business. Or maybe not …

What quirks do you have that you might be ashamed of, but that could make you interesting?

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Comments

  1. Wow, isn’t it amazing that when we’re young we try and try to be the same as everyone else and it’s only as we grow mindfully that we see the beauty in difference. As you say the world is made up of weird and wonderful characters and instead of being afraid of the differences lets try and appreciate our weirdness!!! Keep writing Paula because you bring a lot of light and laughter to the table.

    • ‘Grow mindfully’—love that! And indeed, the world would be a better place if we respected differences, not least, our quirks!
      Writer & archetypal psychologist Thomas Moore says that if we appreciated our many deviances ‘we may eventually come to realize that individuality is born in the eccentrities and unexpected shadow tendencies of the soul, moreso than in normality and conformity.’
      Thanks for your encouraging words, Suzi!

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