Most people read books on the loo. Catch up on articles in Times magazine. Often, I watch Youtube videos on my laptop, sometimes check my e-mail.
If someone asked you to name the strangest species on Earth, they might rattle of names like “aye aye,” “tarsier,” “narwhal,” “platypus,” or “echinda.” But no, the strangest among us have workable thumbs and sometimes really long tongues:
We do some of the strangest things, like bring laptops along with us when we use the restroom or else build buildings that stretch hundreds of stories into the clouds. Other animals merely have sex, but we perform elaborate ceremonies to our posterity that we call weddings, in which we force metal bands onto spouses’ fingers. When other species die, the organism is left to rot into the soil, yet we pack up the remains in a fancy oak box and store it six feet under a pile of gravel and a ton-heavy gravestone. Precaution for zombies perhaps?
But I’ve never met a weird person I don’t like. It’s the supposedly normal ones I shy away from. Anyone who describes him-or-herself as “normal,” “average,” or “typical” just does not interest me. What makes a person relate-able to me is what alienates them, because maybe that’s the only common them among us. A very deep unsettling fear that we don’t really belong.
Human beings are the strangest species on earth, and what sets us apart is our concrete willingness to live differently from others of our species. I have begun a course in psychology, a study I thoroughly distrust on account of my preference of the human spirit as a consummate mystery. Once we start pinpointing our idiosyncrasies and making sense of our oddities, we will lose our “it” factor. Then, aye aye’s may rise to rule the earth ala Caesar from the Planet of the Apes prequel. (Review: https://derekberry.wordpress.com/2011/08/07/review-rise-of-the-planet-of-the-apes/)
Humans, unlike sharks, generally refuse to eat fish unless it’s cooked in some way: broiled, boiled, fried, scalloped, or grilled. We spend hours of our time rehashing stories about things that happened to us: we call these memoirs and sometimes they sell for billions of dollars to other humans. We actively destroy our own environment, then build a smoother, more modern environment on top of it: these are generally called parking lots and condos.
If you don’t think people are weird, have you ever met a hipster?
We wear nylon suits during sex, purchase water in plastic bottles, use radio waves to talk over long distances and broadcast disasters, value paper bills over alpha-male muscle mass, and pantomime sexual interactions in working out with Shake Weights.
I’m not just saying we’re the best, most fit to rule species on earth, but that we’re certainly the strangest choice. We’re the species that watches Youtube videos of kittens playing with yarn… while defecating.