My ride honked the horn outside and my crush (for lack of a better definition) and I stood up after an evening of watching movies and holding hands. He made no move during our time together on the couch, and now, standing in front of the door, he just blocked my way out. We hugged goodbye and as he pulled away, we went back to just standing there, staring at each other. So, I did the only thing I could think to do. I lifted my arms, pumping them out from the elbows, knocked my knees in and out, and sang, “Okay, byyyeee.”
He looked at me, half-smiled, and asked, “What are you doing?” Then we made out.
We are living in a Zooey Deschanel society. One where my Elaine Benes-like dancing elicited a kiss instead of the jeers it once commanded. One where, what once was described as “weird” is now “cute”; what once was awkward and undesirable is now “quirky.” And quirky is in. Thank goodness.
Nothing has changed, existentially speaking, in the way I think or act (well, maybe a little, but I worked really hard on that), that would cause such a shift in the way people describe me. I say the same silly things, send the same uncomfortable text messages, and maintain the sexual maturity of a pre-pubescent. However, while I spent my life up through college being teased for my social awkwardness (I was just socially competent enough that it allowed for teasing in jest, not cruelty), people now giggle as they tell me I am “quirky.” And for some reason, this now sounds like a compliment.
But, if I didn’t change, what did?
Mostly, diction. The stigma attached to being awkward is perpetuated by the connotation of the word itself. Even though the actual behaviors haven’t changed, the word used to describe them has. By replacing a word that has preconceived negative associations – awkward – with one more blithe– quirky – it immediately changes the perception of those actions. The characterization of the descriptive word overrides the actuality of the behavior it describes.
Being awkward detracted from your personality, having quirks adds character.
The quirky epidemic has been slowly on the rise for years, but the overwhelming popularity of New Girl has catapulted quirkiness into the limelight. Thanks to Zooey, and New Girl, being quirky has become more than just accepted; it is actually somewhat trendy. People now throw that word around like it is something to be desired. I get it. I appreciate it. But for those of us who have lived our lives up until now trying to quell our (what we now call) quirks, this drastic turn in popular mindset, though welcomed, is a confusing victory. We – the formerly socially awkward – must now work to reverse our lifelong understanding that our behaviors are inhibiting; we must learn not just to tolerate our quirks, but more, to embrace them.
For me, watching New Girl has been like watching a scripted series based on the reality that is my life (except the characters live in a world where everybody is attractive and boys are clean). I have received a large number of texts, emails, Facebook messages counting the similarities between the Jess caricature of an off-center, single female and the very real me.
Last year, during a dinner party, I talked about “flicking it” in front of a guy I like for so long that he probably will never let me anywhere near it for fear I seriously think that is okay.
On every date I’ve had in the past four months, I’ve talked about how beautiful my cat is for longer than is necessary just to admit I have a cat. (Yes, I’ve showed pictures.)
I laugh at boys in the bedroom when they try to be sexy and talk so much during hookups, that I have been shushed before.
I asked a boy during (what was meant to be) a sensual shower if he wanted soap.
I once walked out of an airplane bathroom with one end of a two-foot strip of toilet paper tucked into my pants. (Picture a long tail or a very thin wedding gown train.)
My shirt once came undone during an interview, exposing my bra and cleavage, and the interviewer didn’t tell me until the interview was over. I got the job.
I once put a co-worker’s bathroom under two inches of water by running the faucet to cover up the sound of my dry heaving.
One time, while making out on my parents’ couch, the guy leaned back so he was lying flat. Instead of crawling on top of him like a normal person, I knelt down next to the couch and leaned over, straining to reach his face.
It’s no wonder I also have been compared to Liz Lemon and, my favorite, a female Larry David.
I used to worry (let’s be honest, I still worry) that I wouldn’t be able to find someone who found my awkwardness/quirks charming. Back in the day, people laughed at my sexual incompetency and social awkwardness as though it wasn’t something I was plagued with; as though the lack of control over things that came out of my mouth didn’t cause crippling fear of dying alone, but simply provided endless entertainment to them. Now, thanks to the attention and charming reputation Zooey has given to quirky personalities everywhere, well, people still laugh at my sexual incompetency and social awkwardness, but now, I willingly accept it.
Being awkward made you an outcast; having quirks makes you interesting.
And quirky is in. Finally.
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