Nor­mal is a dirty word

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - News - Terry Bursey

A high school teacher once gave my class the fol­low­ing ad­vice: “The nail that stands up gets ham­mered down.”

Like many peo­ple he held the phi­los­o­phy that in or­der to suc­ceed in life, you had to make sure you didn’t stand out. In his words, “Our so­ci­ety re­wards peo­ple who func­tion well as a part of some­thing big­ger and if you set your­self apart, you’re not that use­ful.”

He made some more points to that ef­fect and the class was rapt. When (leer­ing the way he of­ten did) he asked me what my thoughts were on the sub­ject, I replied “Well, Sir, those are all log­i­cal, rea­soned and well thought out points.” When his smile widened, I added – “I re­ject them all.” Poof went the smile.

I of­fered that many of the leaps and bounds made by so­ci­eties through­out his­tory were as a di­rect re­sult of peo­ple who dared to do things dif­fer­ently. In­no­va­tors, philoso­phers, sci­en­tists, artists and in­ven­tors around the world who of­ten risked their lives to op­pose the grand ma­chines they were liv­ing in gave rise to amaz­ing things.

At first he was an­gered at my coun­ter­points but af­ter­wards — well ac­tu­ally he was still fu­ri­ous and hated me for the rest of my ed­u­ca­tion — but my point is, this ‘stag­nancy wor­ship’ is some­thing that I feel needs to be rooted out; es­pe­cially in the food in­dus­try.

To give a quick ex­am­ple, my fa­ther re­cently asked me to bake him an old-fash­ioned mac and cheese. He made the point of adding that he was fully fed up with get­ting food that was, in his words ‘not nor­mal’ and specif­i­cally wanted some­thing plain.

I think a part of him knew that there was a moose’s chance in the crosshairs that I’d lis­ten to him and that part at least, was not sur­prised. I tried to make it nor­mal. I re­ally did. But some part of me was so dearly dis­ap­pointed by the act that I couldn’t bear it. In fact, it felt down­right sin­ful (and not in a good way). Thus, Dear Read­ers, I cre­ated:

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