Monday, April 06, 2015

Odd Man Out

How very odd, we humans. On a genetic level, we are all but identical. On a mental and emotional level, no two of us are the same. And we each have only ourselves to use as the basis for comparison with others. Many, probably most, feel comfortable in and around others, with whom they share common beliefs and reactions to any given situation. Some, however, consider themselves to be “odd men out.” I am one of them.

I am frequently made acutely aware of the fact that I am so far “out of it” that I could never find my way “in” with a map and compass. This awareness was most recently renewed by the incomprehensible frenzy engendered by “March Madness.” I definitely agree with the “Madness” part. It’s a basketball game, people! A basketball game!  And not just a game, but a game that no one other than the teams involved actually, physically plays! Shrieking and jumping madly up and down and reacting like…well I’m afraid its hard for me to find a word that wouldn’t offend those involved in the shrieking and jumping…for a group of guys you’ve never met and who wouldn’t know you from Adam strikes me as just a tad, well, odd.  And “March Madness” gives way without so much as an eye-blink’s pause to baseball season, which in turn segues seamlessly into football season, each chock-a-block full of vitally important “BIG GAME”s which are all but immediately forgotten to make room for the next BIG GAME. I am sincere in saying I simply cannot comprehend any of it.

Organized religion is, for me, on the same level of incomprehensibility as organized sports. I am embarrassed in the proximity of those who obviously understand and support either/both. I have never understood, or had the slightest interest in understanding, either. Since I am so vastly outnumbered in my attitudes toward them, it must be some sort of deep flaw within me. It is safe to say that organized religion has accounted for more human grief and tragedy than all the earthquakes and floods and natural disasters in the history of the world. Why? Every human being has his or her own moral code—has an intensely personal sense of right and wrong which guides their lives. I can understand how organized religion provides comfort and reassurance for those who for whatever reason feel they need it. But too many people use organized religion as a crutch…a way of avoiding responsibility for their own lives. I can respect those who feel strongly about anything that does not harm others, but I deeply resent proselytizing, which I consider a form of arrogance. There is a great difference between believing strongly in something and demanding everyone else share that belief.

I have never felt I belonged in the human mainstream, though I have absolutely no idea as to where or among whom/what I would belong. Life and the actions and reactions of others are eternal mysteries. I manage within the carefully constructed confines of my daily life, but the farther I wander from those confines, the more alienated I feel.

While I was born to a heterosexual couple and raised in a heterosexual family of which I was the only homosexual, being homosexual I simply cannot grasp, on any real basis, the personal interrelationships between men and women. The heterosexual world of weddings and baby showers and anniversaries and the various forms of socializing between couples is utterly terra incognito for me. The gay community, of course has its own versions of many of these events, but I now have largely been aged out of participation in even them, and remain uncomfortable among any group of heterosexuals I do not know personally.

And of course I realize that to a degree, all these problems are mine: I could make an effort to blend in more with the heterosexual world around me…you know, maybe go to a Cubs game, listen to my neighbors talk of their kids and ex wives and grandkids and golf games. But the harsh truth is, I never felt I belonged to, or was wanted by them before, and I’ve reached the point at which I don’t want to. I’m lucky enough to have a few good friends who keep me as connected to the Big World as I care to be. And, hey, I’ll always have me. There are worse things than being an odd man out. 

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (

1 comment:

Kage Alan said...

I've gone to baseball and football games with my dad in my youth. Suffice to say I went for the hot dogs because I like hot dogs...with mustard and onions. The problem I ran into was that I can't say I was interested much in the game and I figured out why; I didn't have a connection to the team. Consequently, I didn't care if they won or lost.

Even during my 5 years going to university, I never once stepped foot in the stadium to watch a football game...and I literally lived across the street from it.