LAST DECEMBER I tested positive for Christmas Covid along with seemingly most of the country. To make quarantine bearable, my boys brought up an old TV from the basement. They could hardly contain their joy as they bolted out of my room, knowing I’d be out of their hair for a week. I napped and watched HGTV like my life depended on it; I now know the going rate for every beachfront property in the entire world.
After I binged property shows, I turned to ‘feel good programming’; feeling good sounded extremely desirable. One afternoon, I watched what I assumed would be a sleepy documentary about people’s favorite articles of clothing. Imagine my shock when the show featured a retired Wisconsin dairy farmer-turned-nudist. The farmer and his wife were interviewed sitting comfortably on their living room couch. There was nothing but a tight tuck and mug of coffee between the viewer and the dairy farmer’s ummm … private cheese stick. The naked dairy farmer and his naked wife are just like you and me, except he used to be a Carhartt coat/wellie wearing dairy farmer, they currently live in Florida, they play naked tennis with naked neighbors, and they putter in their woodworking shed using clamps, bandsaws, table saws, lathes, jointers, drill presses, sanders, mortisers, and grinders wearing nothing but well-worn Crocs.
Months later, these images live rent-free in my head. I can hardly sleep at night because I have become increasingly more concerned about the condition of this couple’s soft furnishings. I don’t need to remind you how swampy hot it gets in Florida, do I? That poor couch. Febreeze will not help. I am deeply disturbed.
All this got me thinking if the weathered dairy farmer and his bride can ditch their clothes, line dance naked in their community rec room, weed, and wave to passersby without a shred of self-consciousness, how well do we really know our neighbors? I mean, we have no idea what quirks our neighbors may have, do we? I can no longer queue up at the deli counter without wondering if the man next to me is biding his time until he can have what I can only assume is an awkward conversation with his adult children informing them to phone first because ma and pop are permanently working on their junktan.
I suppose this is why the world such a colorful place to live: so many people, so many personalities, so many idiosyncrasies. A world full of people who think and act just like we do would be dreadfully dull. It wouldn’t be as exciting in our bubble if we didn’t have drivers who attempt to parallel park in front of the UPS store during rush hour. We need all the personalities to make living here thrilling: the lunatics who don’t vote like us, the Instagram influencers, the eternal optimists, the Eeyores, the sidewalk shovelers, the non-sidewalk shovelers, the type A’s, and the free spirits. We need bankers, bartenders, and artists. We need the people who wave us in at the school drop-off. We need the ones who don’t.
We are all quirky, even if we dress well and have reasonable table manners. Sure, most of us can pass for ‘normal’ but you are a weirdo and I am a weirdo. I might think you’re crazy for alphabetizing your pantry. You might think I’m crazy for ironing my sheets. It takes all kinds to give this community character. Except, the polar plunge people. Their unbridled enthusiasm and zest for life threatens our status quo. They are dangerous free-thinkers and should be stopped.
Check out T-Ann’s websites: t-annpierce.com and theconfidencetriangle.com. She’s on Insta @tannpiercecoaching and @the.confidence.triangle. Or stop by her office in Flotstone, Lake Bluff. She’s wearing clothes, we promise.