Blending in with the crowd disappears with age

Published 2:30 pm Thursday, March 16, 2023

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By Jack Godbey


Doesn’t it seem odd that we spend the first part of our lives trying to fit in with our peers and the last part not caring what anyone thinks? My youth was spent trying to fit in with the crowd. After all, if you didn’t wear the right shoes, or have the right haircut in high school, you could count on a long day of harassment.

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As young adults, we continue this behavior by driving the right car and having 1.5 kids just like we are expected. I never understood what a half a kid looks like. I was almost a half of a kid once when I sneaked and used my dad’s chainsaw but that’s another story. It seems as we grow older, the desire to fit in seems to fade away. That’s exactly the place where I find myself today.

Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t gone so far over the edge that I wear my pajamas to the grocery store, but I’ve found myself there more than once with the remnants of my lunch imprinted on the front of my T-shirt. Back in school, my appearance had to be perfect. If I woke up with a cow lick in my hair, my entire day was ruined. Sometimes, there just isn’t enough spit in the world to make those things lay down. Now, I may or may not bother to put on pants before I answer the door. It’s a crap shoot really. I guess that’s why I seem to be on the blacklist for girl scout cookies. If you visit me unannounced, you’ve been warned.

It was the style in my day to have the polo shirt with the little alligator on the chest. It was critical that I have one of those shirts as well. However, I was a poor kid so all I was able to muster was a shirt with a lizard on it. Not quite as intimidating as an alligator I know but close enough, right? A lot of kids in the 1980’s wore their spandex pants to school. That’s where I drew the line. It was not a good idea then or now. I’m talking to you lady at Walmart that had on a pair of stretch pants that was so revealing that I feel like I should be paying her alimony.

I got a wild hair in my junior year of high school and decided I had blended in enough. It was time for me to stand out in all my glory. I decided the best way to accomplish that was to pierce my ear. Keep in mind, that in those days, the only guys that had an earring were pirates or rock stars and I didn’t care which one I was.

I knew there was no way my parents would approve me to have my ear pierced because apparently only “Weirdos” did such things. It was time to take matters into my own hands. With the help of one of my mother’s quilting needles, I pierced my ear myself. No numbing and no looking back. After a quick robbery of my sister’s jewelry box, I went to school the next day with a small hoop earring hanging from my extremely soar ear. After a week of being the center of attention and feeling like my last name was Bon Jovi, I came to school to learn that the entire football team had decided that I was getting too much attention and now pierced their ears as well. Just like that, I blended in once again, so I tossed the earring just in time to prevent my ear from falling off.

After all these years, I’ve come to figure out that not fitting in is perfectly fine. I can be known as the guy with spaghetti on the front of his shirt at the grocery store. I finally found my place.