My Life as a Question Mark

April 18, 2009
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I was born into ridiculous circumstances. My entire life belongs on the big screen, complete with the perfectly and ludicrously typical life. Of course, I would be the star, being the only half-interesting thing in the whole story. I don’t say it to be conceited, and I don’t resent my family for being so ordinary. I only mean to say, with slight self-criticism, that I am the black sheep in more ways than one.

For example, every single one of my family members are naturally blond, though some more than others, while I remain dark-haired and completely untannable.

To begin in the long and boring description of my ordinary and unnoticeable family, I must start with my mother. She’s a nurse at the nearest hospital full-time, while still having the time and energy to bake us cookies as we return from school once nearly every week. She has golden hair and over-tanned skin, bleached teeth, blue eye shadow, and enormous breasts that have been worked on so often we’re afraid one day she’ll keel over from the sheer weight of them. Frightening appearance aside, my mother is the image of family solidarity, and can always be counted on to mend any slight dysfunction found within the walls of our house. She has the utmost of perfect marriages with my father, who is, of course, next on my list.

A firm believer in polo shirts and John Grisham novels, my father is my mom’s back-up. He was always beyond manipulation, repeating our mother’s words as we came to him time and time again asking to go out even after asking the same thing of mom. He sang us lullabies, used to be a rock star with enormous hair along with every other father on the planet, and works from home in his distinguished study beyond the kitchen. Blond hair with a touch of grey, firm chin, perfectly shaped eyebrows, and a tendency to get a tad too fussy over the daily newspaper. That’s my dad.

Next, my sister. So painfully dull, boring, and sickeningly perfect at times. Blond, athletic, well-dressed, unbelievably popular with the boys, and has a very sleek and expensive cell phone genetically molded to fit her hand. She is my beloved scapegoat, the one thing I can depend on for a good argument after a long and merciless day. I love her dearly, and I know she loves me, but as with every sister, we both have our fantasies of smashing in the other’s face and ripping out each other’s hair. But it’s all in good fun.

My brother is the youngest of us, a blond and beautiful little boy who was born to model for colognes one day. He’s turning nine in two months, though he’s already chosen his career as a columnist. Despite his creative side, he’s a pain, which is his designated role in the family. His tongue never spends more than five minutes in his mouth, as he has not yet outgrown eight-year-old tendencies to stick out one’s tongue, despite fifteen grueling minutes of my mother holding onto it one night in hopes of purging him of the habit. My mother may be painfully typical, but I could never call her average when it comes to discipline. I think she could have been quite happy in the army.

Then there’s me, with the loud music and loose-fitting clothing. The obvious lack of make-up or hairstyle, the pale one with thighs slightly too big. The eldest, the responsible, the dependable, the sensitive, and completely inebriated by hormones.

Despite my dependability, availability, responsibility, and other such qualities, I can be known to act out far more than my sister is willing to. When life gets too smotheringly boring, I tend to hop out my window and down my practiced escape route; three feet of perilous brick wall. I live on the first floor.

I’ve only been drunk at a party once, way back in grade nine when I was stupid enough to believe my friend when she said the jello was alcohol-free. Since then I haven’t accepted any drinks at parties, nor any substance that bares any resemblance to sugar. I know how to hold my own.

But after a long night of raucous music, short skirts, and wild dancing, I can always depend on my place in my bed, waiting for me as if I never left. The place where I’m just me. Whoever that may be.

Stepping out of the house and into high school every morning is much like stepping out of Kitchener, Ontario, and straight into the darkest and dirtiest streets of Harlem. I suffer extreme culture shock every day at 8am when I still have a faint smudge of my mother’s lipstick where she tenderly kissed my forehead, and then opening the school doors to meet a wall of swearwords, nasty comments, tattoos, and the added effect of B.O.

Much like at home, I don’t have any specific place in school. I don’t fit in with the group of blonde, latte-drinking athletes that my sister seems to belong to. I don’t fit in with the mass of grungy pacifists that seem to overrun the halls, I don’t belong to the humor-less over-achievers, I especially don’t belong with the indifferent smokers, and I don’t fit in with the guitarists that cling to the music room as if it were their second home. I play bass, which immediately makes me an outcast.

I have only a few friends, and we all depend on one another to carry us through high school. We don’t exactly have an exclusive click, but we don’t usually let in anyone else unless they’re foreign and only visiting the country for less than three months.

Sometimes I feel as if I’m floating. Like my whole existence is left up in the air and I’m only waiting for someone to put a name to me, to pin me down. I’m not really athletic, I’m not really all that pretty, I’m not really all that smart, I’m not really all that talented at anything but annoying my sister, and I have no passions or causes, only mild agreements.

I’m not known for anything, I have no achievements other than an honorable mention in a beautiful baby contest. No one has come along yet and given me any sort of purpose or role. No one commends anyone for being mediocre, only those who are especially good or especially bad at something. Mediocre has no belonging or place. It’s just average, dull, boring, obsolete, and typical. That’s me. That’s my life.

But maybe average isn’t all that average. If given the choice, I would take my normal life over any other family, the ones with exciting hidden secrets and dysfunctions, the ones that you watch on television.

The thing is, I’ve never been commended for being mediocre, but I’ve never been punished for it, either. My mom gives me five bucks for every mediocre report card, and my dad nods his head in appreciation for every dinner report of another mediocre day. I’ve always been accepted by my family, despite my lack of drama or excitement.

In spite of everything I’m not, my family has always been there with a freshly-baked cookie and understanding word.

Maybe the place I belong, if no where else, is with my family. My family…with all the boring normalcy and typical clichés, with all the blissful uniformity and stereotypes. Maybe this is where I belong…in the only place where I stand out, being so typically normal in my differences, fitting in just perfectly.





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