The Unified Weird Theory

Make a pun and, sometimes, you get a new truth.

The Unified Weird Theory is an observation that can never be proved: that those who find themselves at odds with the universe, will form groups in which they are themselves not odd.

This explains many social phenomena, including (but not limited to)

Fan clubs.  I once interviewed the leaders of the Tom Jones and Englebert Humperdinck appreciation societies. They were NOT alike, but both felt that the objects of their affections were misunderstood by the public. I interviewed members of the Sherlock Holmes and  Laurel & Hardy, Campbell Soup collectors

Science fiction conventions. The first happened before I was born, in Philadelphia in 1936. I loved science fiction, even if most people (including my professors at college) put me down for it (this was before the late Twentieth Century fusion of “high” and “low” culture, inspired by the 1980s “whatever makes money is good” attitude when Star Wars became an international hit, Star Trek fandom took off and arch movies about psychologically conflicted comic book superheroes became the norm.

Clubs and societies in which people wear clothing that has no practical function, that would appear strange in an office or street setting.

“Splinter” groups, or off shoots of larger groups. It’s naive to explain sectarianism this way but…it works.

When I came to Northern Virginia, I decided to create a writers group that I had always wished existed for me, but never did. I thought I’d do a little teaching (I previously taught writing at the college level, and to senior adults) and then have students share their stuff in a compassionate way. I gradually discovered that people joining this group didn’t want to be taught that much. So I let them teach the group, which can be empowering (as well as show me a thing or two about teaching) for individuals, but not always relevant to others. Finally I just let go and, with me as the monitor and moderator, permit the group to be itself.

It’s lasted for more than five years, with dedicated regulars and new people coming in all the time.

And I’m very, very grateful that I don’t feel so weird anymore.



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