When I've acted eccentrically, it's been my attempt to cover failure.
When I was in high school, I played basketball and baseball. The older I got, the less successful I was.
First, a little back story. I played basketball for the Kellogg Wildcats in North Idaho. We Wildcats loved imitating other players, mostly NBA players, and mostly players with eccentric shooting styles, but also our high school opponents.
Our favorite player to imitate was a star at Wallace High, our chief rival. Bob Blum ran up and down the court with his fists high on his ribs and his elbows pointed straight behind him. When Bob Blum was introduced as a starter at the beginning of each Wallace game, he leapt up, raised his fist, and greeted his teammates "rah rah" style.
It may not sound funny to you, the reader, but we found it hilarious, and imitated him all the time, at basketball practice, in the halls at school, at dances, anywhere.
In our Kellogg way of talking, we called it "Blumming It". When I go to my high school reunion this summer, I guarantee that a handful of us will, when we see each other, Blum It.
My junior year in basketball, by midseason, I had been relegated to the bench.
It hurt me. I compensated with eccentric behavior.
For example, late in the season we Kellogg Wildcats made our annual trip to Bonners Ferry, in North Idaho, nearly to Canada. In the Bonners Ferry gym, both teams' starting five was introduced in a spotlight.
Three of us on the Wildcat team wore a warmup jersey that didn't match the others. These jerseys were about six years old and were white with "Kellogg Wildcats" written in cursive font.
We called these warm ups the "albino". No good players wore the albino. I loved wearing the albino. It put me in my place as a scrub and made me stand out. I found it eccentric and funny.
In Bonners Ferry, our starting five was introduced in the spotlight. On this night, when the last starter had been introduced, I leapt up, raised my fist, threw my elbows straight back, and joined the starters in the spotlight, wearing the albino, faked rah rah enthusiasm, and shouted, "Let's go! Let's go!"
I startled the starters.
I pissed off our coach.
My benchmates doubled over laughing, especially as the spotlight exagerrated the shadow of my elbows thrown back.
I returned to bench and they all gave me skin. "You're fucking crazy, man!"
I Blummed It in the Bonners Ferry spotlight.
I masked the pain of my decline as an athlete by being eccentric.
It's been a lifelong practice.
Maybe another time I'll tell other stories, but that's it for now.
For other Sunday Scribblings on Eccentricity, go here.