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Roger Maris’ Least Favorite Glyph
The bookstore is filled with a bunch of weirdos today. I am one of them, to be sure, but man. I have nursing students behind be talking about reproductive organs very loudly, some dude near the outlet who reacts as if he just woke up whenever I interact with him, a coffee girl (my friend Alana) who is trying to tell me that socialism is a good thing, some baby who keeps saying the same musical nonsense word over and over while his mother tries to figure out what it wants, and then myself who is sitting here listening to Hawkwind and looking up the benefits of having a partnership in a business in Sims 3 Pets. I should have stayed in bed and watched the snow from my window today.
Last week I wrote a blog called “Beauty With An Asterisk.” You cats and kittens seemed to like that one, and I appreciate all of the reads. If you didn’t read that one, shame. “Shame, shame, double shame” to quote the brilliant Stimpy of Ren and Stimpy fame. This rant isn’t a continuation of that, but I did like the title a lot. Asterisk. It’s a good word, and I think the title was very appropriate. Let’s all take a moment to reflect on how awesome I am. I want to talk more about that title today, and hopefully I can get another Red and Stimpy quote in there.
As a baseball fan, the asterisk is about as welcomed in my life as the ebola virus on my boy parts. You all should know why, and if you don’t, “shame, shame…” Damnit, I used that quote already. Anyway, it’s an interesting little nugget of attention. It draws eyes to more information. It draws focus to things additional, or limitations, or special cases. It tells us not to drive like a cocksucker in car commercials. It tells us that the thing we bought to do whatever job might actually not do the job. It tells us that the pills we’re taking may cause some insane side effect like priaprism or decapitation or (and I saw this one) vaginal discharge. It leads to more, and more is often good. It sends us places in the book we’ve not gotten to yet, like the index or the glossary. It further explains. It’s a powerful little thing, isn’t it.
But all of that isn’t terribly interesting. When used in the title of last week’s blog, “Beauty With An Asterisk,” it takes the brain into some different directions. Or at least, it was intended to. But that title jogged my crippled and feeble brain for the past week. Beauty with an asterisk. What is your asterisk? What footnote do you lead other towards when speaking of your own beauty? How heavy is that little mark to you and your beauty? Where does your asterisk send others?
My goal here in A Different Kind Of Beautiful is to talk about beauty. With no asterisks. It is to create looking glasses through which my readers can see things they may not have seen before. It doesn’t always work, I know, and that’s because I am a shitty writer. But I am not naive enough to think that those who have read me for all this time have suddenly accepted themselves in a glorious epiphany. That’s where the asterisks come in.
You are beautiful. And you know that. I know that. Others around you ought to know that as well. But I’m not that stupid; I know you have that thing. That one thing. That little thing that only you can see. You know that thing, that asterisk. That scar you always cover up with a scarf. The way your belly sits on your jeans. The bald spot (which for me is my entire head, but it’s still just a spot, damnit). Maybe it’s your nose or your eyes or some type of handicap you have that seems to be the biggest element of your aesthetic character when in fact it is much more subtle than you think. What is your asterisk. Think of it right now.
So we know we’re beautiful, and then we adorn that beauty word with the little mark that draws attention. When we see a word with an asterisk, how quickly do we gloss over the meaning of the actual word with the mark and search for the explanation to which the mark leads? We get tied up and wrapped up and other euphemisms with the word up in what the further explanation is and suddenly we forget what the word that had the mark actually meant in the context to begin with. That word was beauty. Remember that. None of us were born to the exact design that we would have preferred to be. I know I wasn’t. But in order for the beauty that we all have to be accentuated with the asterisks of what we dislike about ourselves, the beauty has to exist to start. You can’t put an asterisk on a word that isn’t there.
The asterisk can be a good thing in certain circumstances as well. It can motivate us to become healthier. It can get us to hit the gym or eat a salad. Those are good things. The interesting thing about the asterisks is that we put them there on our own. We’re not born with asterisks which means we are in control of them. Maybe your asterisk is that you have a great big scar on your face. You can’t control the scar’s being there, but you can control how much power you give the scar, and in turn, how much power you give to the asterisk that you’ve assigned to your beauty. Who is to say that the scar is beauty giving and not beauty robbing? Only you, really. When you feel beautiful, you exude beauty. In that, others will see the beauty before the asterisk and not the little mark before the beauty. My asterisk leads to a volume. It leads to a huge list of explanations that in themselves are tomes and tomes of information that dwarf the tiny little word to which the asterisk was attached. I have a scar on my spine that came from doctors cutting me open to take some shit out. That’s part of my asterisk. I have a spine that was never formed the way it was supposed to from the start. Asterisk. I have a giant nose, a bald head, bad legs, gnarled knuckles, a fat belly, a brain that doesn’t turn off, a dependency to psychotropic medication, nasty teeth, and a guilt that is crushing me in the way that the bad guy in RoboCop was crushed by the scrap metal after RoboCop stabbed him in the neck with the spike thing in his hand. Which was awesome. Best movie about a robot cop ever. Asterisks. But at the core, there is a beauty. There is an inherent being that cannot be corroded, like your own beauty. A stranger who sees me sees only my beauty until I direct him to where that asterisk leads; and that direction is my choice. Ought I send him to the footnotes, or ought I let him see the beauty of which I am proud?
We have a choice, kids. We can mark everything with an asterisk thereby telling others, ‘go here instead and ignore the important part,’ or we can slowly begin to unmark everything and tell others, ‘this is absolute without notation.’ Your beauty is absolute and deserves no notation. Yes, there are elements of you which you believe deserve notation with the little pointed thing. But your disdain for how you’re built or designed or how you’ve arrived to where you are now cannot deteriorate or demanufacture the beauty with which you’ve started. Yeah, my spine is shit, but I am still beautiful less to spite it, and more because of it. Our asterisks give us some perspective too sometimes, don’t they. Because I am a broken mess of biological material, my sense of beauty has been heightened; I am attuned to beauty because of the elements of myself that I find unbeautiful. Irony is a cruel mistress. If keeping your asterisk helps you see the word to which it is attached, keep it and know of its function to bring attention to the word itself. But if it is a weight which drags you beneath the waters of your dislike, erase it and just have the beauty word by itself and you’ll float above those waters and see the beautiful sky above you. Beauty is strong enough to survive on its own. Believe me. And really, are you going to let a little thing like an asterisk have that much power over you? At least pick something cooler, like the bracket with the point sticking out. That thing is awesome. Stay beautiful, kids.
*Here is the only Ren And Stimpy quote that came to mind: “This is a song about a whale. NO! This is a song about being happy.”
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