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The Newcomer

Hooray for weird!

by Frances Potts

How weird is weird? Depends on your outlook.

A certain gray haired Sunnyside business owner would paste a weirdo label on her father who displayed beatnik tendencies before there were beatniks. They lived, she said, in a round house in a square world. Kitchen chairs bolted to his car's floor provided the seats his vehicle was missing. Her dad's choice of royal blue trousers chopped off at the knees, while obviously a forerunner of today's men's colorful baggy summer wear, drew odd looks way back then.

While his public appearances in such garb, as well as his other slightly wacky hijinks, often resulted in her teenage embarrassment, today this lady is quick to say there's nothing wrong with weird if you don't break any laws.

I quite agree.

To me, weirdos and free spirits are 'kissing cousins.' And I know a little about both.

When I was 40, a young man sent me the poem about the freedom of growing old, such as wearing purple and a red hat that "doesn't go" and adopting a wide variety of socially unacceptable behavior. With the poem he enclosed a note: "You don't have to wait until you're old to do weird things, you're already weird."

Just before I collected this letter from my mailbox, I had picked and shucked oysters to feed to a skinny cat while eating a slab of rhubarb pie for my own breakfast. I had washed my fingers with a lick of my tongue, and wandered into a neighbor's flower garden to gather a bouquet without asking permission. Since I was reading his note as I sun bathed nude on a dock overlooking Hood Canal, I felt I was in no position to dispute his characterization of me.

However, the poem also touts an oldster's right to spit without censure-an action I adamantly deny ever having anything to do with.

With the establishment of the Red Hat Society in which zillions of women attempt to clone themselves, any desire I may once have had to wear purple and a crazy red hat began to wane.

Still, I did try to fit in with the Red Hatters for a few months, striving to express my own individuality by attaching to my hat the biggest fresh flower I could find. The impact-if any-was lost in the sea of red and purple at every gathering of the crimson clan. When they voted to name our group the Red Violets, I sought greener pastures.

Now that I have forsaken red and purple, slipping into old age might be a bumpier ride. I may have to learn to spit.

. Frances Potts is a retired journalist who spent her career working at several newspapers in Washington state.

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