I hear the word ‘weird’ used a lot. Most of those times I think it’s the wrong word. People say ‘weird’ all the time, but they only really mean ‘weird’ once in a while. Here are some examples of people using the word ‘weird’ accompanied by the word I think actually matches what they meant.
“It’s really weird that the check for the chinchilla feed hasn’t come out of the bank account yet”. No, that's not weird. It’s unexpected. Your pet chinchilla stealing your checkbook and using it to buy a used Jeep Grand Cherokee would be weird.
“I was going to invite him to the Roll Your Own Sushi Party, but he’s just too weird”. This could be anything. Sometimes the guy really is weird, but more often he is either shy, awkward, unsociable, rude, or religious.
“They have all this weird food from all over the world there, like hummus”. That should be the word ‘exotic'. Some people think hummus is exotic. No one thinks it’s weird. Even grilled guinea pig (which I had in Peru) is exotic, but not weird. Birthday cake with ketchup on it is weird.
“She listens to weird music”. Back when I talked to people about music a lot, ‘weird’ used in this way usually really meant ’The Arcade Fire’. I don’t know what bands the kids are talking about today, but usually when they say 'weird' they really mean ’slightly less popular’.
Now, I don’t have a problem with this over use of the word. Everyone misuses a bunch of words all the time. And actually, the definition that I got when I googled ‘definition of weird’, is in itself weird. So, I’m not really sure any of the ways I’m using the word are right either.
The only reason I bring up any of this is that I want to tell you about things that I think are really weird. Let's call them Genuinely Weird.
Here’s how I'm want to define Genuinely Weird:
- It got to be the way it is through sincere attempts at good decision making. Basically, if someone said “Hey, I’m just going to try to make it weird instead of thinking it through”, then it’s not weird. But you don’t even have to know if they said that or not because you can always tell. This rule is actually the easiest one to detect if it’s been broken.
- The people responsible for the weird thing cannot know that it’s weird. This is related to number one, but worth mentioning distinctly. They can suspect that it might be weird, or not be surprised they find out that it’s weird, but they cannot fully know that it’s weird. If they do, it’s not weird.
- Everyone can’t like it. Joanna Newsom’s triple album is a good example of this. In a lot of ways you might think it’s a candidate to be called Genuinely Weird, but it’s not. It’s too good to be weird. Almost everyone who has really listened to it loves it.
- Some people have to like it a lot. Terrible is not the same as weird either though. It’s the difference between Ornette Coleman and the homeless man with a saxophone that hangs out at the BART stop. They both play out of tune and out of time, but a lot of people straight up love listening to Ornette. Almost no one loves hearing the crazed man at the BART stop. I repeat, terrible is not weird.
- It has to make you feel funny. Wether it’s a work of art, a restaurant, a vintage pair of pants, or a person it’s not weird unless it makes you feel weird. Every weird thing should make you feel a little different too. No two weird things are weird in exactly the same way. You’ll know it in your bones when you find something that’s Genuinely Weird.
I hope you’ll look forward to my upcoming posts, in which I’ll tell you about things that I think are Genuinely Weird.