Betraying Cinderella

Sometimes there are no happy endings.  There are just happier endings than there could be.

In the version of Cinderella I first read, the stepmother – a neighboring lady with property, who wanted the larger property of the windowed father of Cinderella – tempted Cinderella first with the idea that it would be nice to have a mother who’d care for her.  And the step sisters were so nice and such good playmates to the lonely little girl.

When Cinderella suggested to her father that he should marry this nice widowed lady, her father said he would marry her when the pockets of his good (leather) hunting jacket wore through.  So…  Cinderella started rubbing salt inside the pockets until they wore out, then nagged her father into fulfilling his promise and thereby sealed herself into years of servitude.

But Sarah – you say – that story has a happy ending, and the party with the pumpkins and marrying the handsome prince might never have come to pass without her long years of servitude in the kitchen.

And that’s where you and I part company.  I believe in miracles, mind.  Seen them myself.  But a miracle usually starts inside someone, with the strength to do something.  It’s not a fairy godmother with a magic wand and dresses made of gold and diamond and the conveniently lost shoe, at the stroke of midnight.  Those were the inventions of a French aristocratic culture that had lost its moorings in reality and forgot that most miracles are just a thumb on the scales and little things that fix otherwise out of kilter circumstances.

Could the story have had a miracle ending?  Sure.  Cinderella grows up, runs away from home, becomes a famous courtesan and snares the prince to such an extent that, on finding her origin is perfectly acceptable, he marries her secretly.  She’d be scandalous, and whispered about but she might eventually be accepted as Queen.  Or she might have found some protector, perhaps a distant relative and sued the stepmother for the restitution of her property.  Or—

But it is never easy.  It is never simple.  And the end is not guaranteed.

Sarah, you say?  Why are you so mad about a fairytale?  What on Earth is wrong with you?

I’m not mad about it.  Cinderella, at least the version in which Cinderella is responsible for her own doom, is probably one of my favorites.  Which of us doesn’t want to believe that in the end everything will be restored to order and that no matter how bit a botch we make of things someone will swoop in and rescue us?

More importantly, though, there is another point here: at the beginning, Cinderella is the isolated geek girl, lonely and different.  It is obvious from the context – and for those who know history – that her father is what used to be called “addicted to the sport” which, before your dirty minds get going, means that he likes hunting and possibly fishing (though that was considered low) and perhaps horse racing.  This for someone of the nobility meant that he would be home very little.

In the version of the story I read, Cinderella was a reader, loved stories.

So, she was a lonely little girl brought up by books.  An ODD.

When odds feel accepted, there is a tendency to not notice or see the knife hidden behind the lace sleeve.

What are you going on again, Sarah?

…  someone brought up – here at some point (I’m too sleepy to dig through comments) – that homosexuals used to be considered a security risk.  To which someone else countered there were good reasons – fair or not – for the practice, because they were blackmail risks, at a time when same sex connections were the love that dare not speak its name.

From this I mentioned in passing that excluded groups are always a risk in any system, because you’re going to get the brilliant young man or woman who can’t advance for some reason that has nothing to do with him or her: homosexuality; gender; race; handicap…  whatever it turns out to be that the society considers bad.

This is why the story telling resounds as true in the movie 300 (And the comic book on which it was based.)  I’m old enough to have read old history books that approved of Sparta’s mini-eugenics program, where babies showing any defect (or even babies who were judged too weak) could be exposed and left to die.

There were good reasons for this, mind.  Sparta, in fact all of the Greek city-states were drawing from a limited gene pool and eliminating the ones that showed defects made it less likely that their city (which depended to an extent on warfare and pillage for survival) would end up with children with three eyes and one foot.

But the exclusion was absolute.  So any child greatly deformed who nonetheless survived would have a reason to betray the city.

There used to be good reasons to exclude women from positions of power and even from education, back when contraception was unreliable and most women’s lives consumed with child rearing.  Any woman who can remain perfectly rational when one of her children is in even mild trouble; any woman who thinks pregnancy brings no change to the mental capacities of the mother, is a woman who has never had children.  Any woman who thinks the jokes about PMS and menopause are just sexist and have no basis in fact has her ovaries and uterus in suspension somewhere and has never experienced cycles.

And there were good reasons for excluding homosexuals and foreigners and other races: reasons that applied to that time and place, no matter how weird they seem to us.

None of which accounts for the Odd – the one of us – who falls under that exclusion: people who are either smarter than others (most of you) or adept with words (most of me – shuddup, walk a mile in my head sometime) or good at inventing new stuff… Something that sets them apart, a core of competency that makes them different.  (Though I’ll point out most of us who are Odd, who don’t quite fit in, seem to be qualitatively rather than quantitatively different.  It’s not that we have higher IQs – though some do – it’s that our mental processes are just… odd.  It’s not that we’re more competent – we just look at things upside down and sideways and sometimes see things others don’t.)

Anyway, people who know they could go far and can’t because of something innate tend to resent the whole system and view it only as “that evil thing on my neck.”

This explains how throughout history the gifted outcasts of relatively free systems were willing – eager, in fact – to cast their lot in with those who wanted to use them for destroying the system and create a far more oppressive one.

Every totalitarian revolution in history used these – from the French revolution on.  The very people who would suffer most under Soviet oppression (or Cuban) were the people who helped it come on, because they were excluded under the old system too and wanted … What Cinderella wanted.  What the stepmother promised: you’ll be loved, you’ll be accepted, you’ll be normal.

We’re social apes.  That is a powerful promise.  Most of us would rather be poor and loved and fabulously wealthy and totally isolated.

And so they bring on their own doom, because the one thing that a totalitarian system can’t allow is the odd, the different, those who don’t fit in.  And these people have already proven they are trouble.

Even those who helped ignite the fuse of these revolutions – Robspierre – end up being eaten in the end.

Much like Cinderella they usher in their servitude and there is no fairy godmother.

There never is a fairy godmother.

When one sells one’s odd, isolated but free state for servitude, and betrays those who might have offended/hurt us, but who nonetheless allow us to exist – the payment is always the same.  Ask those (probably some of them my ancestors) who opened the doors of Roman citadels to the Carthaginian troops and later – much later – to the Muslim invaders.

It doesn’t matter much, by the way, if the exclusion is real, or if one was just brought up to think he’s excluded and that his rather charmed career would have been better “if society is fairer.”  The result is always the same.

This is why Marxists divide people into groups and assign categories of injury and compensation to each.  While you can keep one race up against the other, the straights against the gays (or vice versa) and convince men and women that their interests are different, you keep them all from realizing it’s YOUR boot on everyone’s neck.  And each one will fink on all the rest to get “compensation” and “fairness” for themselves.  And the result is always the same.

And there is no fairy godmother.  You can come back from the fatal mistake of trusting the wolf with guarding the sheep.  But it takes a miracle.  It takes an internal miracle, one that makes you capable of changing yourself from inside and of taking actions to get the outcome you wish.  No one is going to wave a wand.  You’re not going to ride to the ball in a pumpkin.  You’ve got yourself in this mess, and you’ve got to dig out.

And historically speaking, particularly for those who’ve sold their heritage to totalitarians, the chances are low.  (The chances are low for those who engaged in more home-level forms of betrayal, too, it’s just that your family, your spouse, your friends are less likely to put you up against a wall and execute you.  Normally.)

What do I mean by all this?

Nothing, my pretty.  Go back to sleep.  It’s just a fairytale.

187 thoughts on “Betraying Cinderella

  1. A thought that’s at angles to the point….
    The ‘net really is a great boon for Odd folks to have acceptance without having to be in a huge population center; I wonder if it will result in less betrayal as folks self-sort, or just different sorts of betrayal.

            1. I did something like that. Most of the more attractive women in my part of the world during childhood were either related, or possibly related. I joined the military, ended up in Denver (1200 miles from home), married a VERY nice young lady — whose paternal family was from Kosciusko, Mississippi. Like the Man says, you can’t win, you can’t even break even. Been married almost 47 years, so it wasn’t a bad choice…

            2. I have one as well. 😉 Although I am number three wife–
              We were talking about his unit that went to Vietnam and there are only a couple besides my husband left. Most of them died from complications of Agent Orange. (Knock on wood). He keeps telling me that he has to stay alive to keep me out of trouble.

              Also his joke is– your next husband can do that.

              1. I’m married to my second (and in my mind ONLY) wife and plan to remain that way ad infinitum. Every once and a while, however, it occurs to me that my wife knows that she is my second wife. She is a second wife. There was a wife before her.

                That’s pretty f’d up from my perspective 🙂 It’s quite jarring when I remember that it’s a simple fact of life that we live with every day. Now, our marriage is as strong as I could have imagined a marriage to be, so there’s fuss, but it’s still jarring.

                1. I don’t fuss about it at all… He just had to get it right before he met me. lol Now I don’t have to train him. And like Sarah, I get Odd without him.

      1. What do you think silicon valley. And the geek heavy suburbs around Seattle are, if not a region sort? Granted, that’s also an excellent example that economics trumps group preference in self-sorting. (Or, no matter whathow their stated motivation, people go where the jobs are.)

        1. Why in heaven did WordPress put this in jail until approved? Is it that you used “geek”? Maybe it thinks it’s a slur????
          Mysterious are the ways of WordPress and unfathomable its decisions.

      2. It is interesting, though, that that the heroes of many of the most wildly popular stories (Harry Potter as the most recent example) are Odds, in their way. The bullies who attack them are always the villains. Yes, I know, the writers who create these stories are probably Odds, to a degree, but why do such stories appeal to such a wide audience?

        Maybe there are a lot more closet Odds than we know.

        My favorite high school reunion story is of a friend of mine who, as a teen, dressed like a British civil servant in a suit, carried a briefcase and umbrella, and affected an English accent. You can pretty much imagine how he was treated. He told me, at the ten year reunion, one of the guys who had been extremely cruel to him came up to him, pumped his hand and said, “You were so cool, you were the one true rebel!”

        1. Almost all of us think of ourselves as Odd; the “nobody understands me” meme is practically a cliche.

          For a some, all too many understand them all to well — that is why they get away with nothing. But many are “not understood” for the same reason they don’t understand anybody: in High School most are so wrapped up in themselves they haven’t the attention to spare trying to understand anybody else.

          1. I figured it was being a teen when I was a teen. Only when I realized I still didn’t really feel like I quite fit anywhere when I was in my late 20’s to early 30’s, well, then I started to became somewhat concerned.

            For me part of the problem is living in a country where socialism the official ideal. Scary thing to deviate from that. There probably are more than a few people around who don’t think that way either, but since thinking ‘wrong’ can get you ostracized it’s usually not one of those things you talk about freely until you know each other well, which can make finding the others difficult. But because of that I didn’t really fit in with those groups either which might otherwise been a natural, like science fiction fans. Most of the ones I have met – well, the big name in Finnish science fiction is Johanna Sinisalo, whose most well known book is an alternate reality fantasy where trolls exist, as sort of human like animals. A translation has been published in USA, under the name ‘Troll – A Love Story’. Check the Amazon page. She writes quite well, if you are talking about something like beautiful language or nice turn of phrases (at least the original is good in that way, don’t know about that translation) but fact is I have never managed to finish that novel, I just stopped caring about the characters or what happened to them. Ooh. Sacrilege.

            1. Sigh. I know you can’t really, but I think the problem is that you’re an American who’s never made it home. Your situation sounds so much like me thirty years ago.

              Tell you what, when I find the cash to make the USAian (not so secret) t-shirts I shall send you one. You might only be able to wear it in the privacy of your own home, but it will cheer you (and the cats) immensely.

              1. Heh. Thank you.

                Well, I can always hope that maybe I’ll end writing one of those surprise hits at some point. Need to start getting stuff on Amazon. Just in case. 🙂

  2. I like your interpretation of Cinderella. The fairy godmother (one of my sisters considered government as her fairy godmother) doesn’t exist. I know that I prayed for so long for an end so that I could finally have my own life. When I became old enough to leave, I was too scared. I had to find that spark in myself that wanted goals and a life different from my family.

    If there was betrayal involved, it had to do with my mother. She thought that I betrayed her by leaving her with her other seven children even though I hadn’t become pregnant although I did raise them. If there was a betrayal it was when my father told me that I couldn’t hug or hold the brother that I had raised when he was three. I am grateful in a way because it let me spread my wings and leave — However, I have read what my brother wrote about that time and it is heart-wrenching. For all purposes, I was his mother (except not the biological mother). When I left I betrayed him.

    My brothers still call me when they want a logical no-nonsense explanation and encouragement.

    Every family is dysfunctional in its own way. Some more than most. I love what my hubby says when I get maudlin and take about what I endured. He says, “Your family put the fun in dysfunctional.”

    So my fairy godmother was the desire inside me to get back on track with my goals. (I made my first goals at six years old–already planning my life). I was thinking the other day that everything I wanted to do in my life in general terms were all accomplished when I became ill.

    Now I want to write and tell my stories.

    So my story followed the Cinderella model (sort of) except I was my own fairy godmother, and when I met my prince I was already on my feet and making my own life. He came along for the ride. 😉

    Happy ever after? Well, that is what others see when they look at us and our life. It has nothing to do with reality.

    I do think that everyone has a core story.

      1. ‘Clever Girl’ usually makes me think of that scene from ‘Jurassic Park’. One of the few which I remember well from that movie. That hunter was a good sport. 🙂

      2. I just looked up “clever girl” and that is the first time I have seen that story. 😉 Can someone have a core story that is not given to them by the fairytales of the time? Plus Clever girl reminds me of Jack and the Beanstalk.

  3. I dunno, Sarah, I kinda like RAH’s description of how the Army works (at least how it worked in the mid-1960s anyway) in _Glory Road_…the Surprise Party Department does most of the work, but there is quantity one only Fairy Godmother in the FG Department (an elderly and infirm GS8 clerk who is mostly on leave). And once in a while the FG intervenes..

    1. There’s also the Fairy Midnight Requisitioner. Not quite as respectable, but sometimes very important to practical logistics. (Unfortunately, there are also many Bad Fairies doing midnight requisitioning and midnight hoarding of supplies, in every organization.)

      1. Is that one related to the Good Idea Fairy? I understand that once the Good Idea Fairy strikes, all those around are doooooomed.

        1. Wouldn’t that make it the Good Idea Fairy of Doom? Wait, that’s an oxymoron . . . never mind. I need food.

        2. Yes. One of my friends, who is in the Army, is frequently a victim of the Good Idea Fairy. He says that once someone higher up the command chain gets struck by the Good Idea Fairy, it’s at least a whole day lost.

    2. As someone who’s had the “Fairy Godmother Department” intervene with my personal career not once, but twice, I’d have to say she’s either gotten a promotion, or very badly deserves one!

  4. The Odd as betrayer – you know, I think a lot of the people in the current administration are Odds.

    I am an Odd, I think a lot of us here are, but I am reasonably functional, competent, rational and do not hate or feel a victim (that wasn’t always true, but I’m long past high school). What takes the Odds and pushes them across that line?

    1. Laurie -consistent abuse for many years and decades. Then a user comes by and flatters the Odd. He or she tells him (or her) that the Odd is an intelligent person who is under-appreciated. The Odd is carefully seduced until the betrayal. (my opinion of course). The Odd is promised a secure place in the new society– probably being famous or some type of thing that would give the Odd some needed self-love.

      I think that it is happening in our colleges and universities. –the Odd has a sense of belonging to a group who appreciates him. (Gangs do this type of recruiting too.)

      1. The user recognizes the need for the Odd…right up until the user achieves his or her goal. Then the Odd becomes a liability, and with the only strong competition eliminated(the free state system, it’s easy to go after the Odd and bring back the dark.

        1. Eric Hoffer noticed this in _The True Believer_, back in 1951. The prime recruits for a revolutionary movement are the unsuccessful but educated class: failed priests (Stalin), failed civil servants (Mao), failed artists (Adolf H.). Look at the recent “Occupy N” movement for more confirmation.

          Science fiction fans (and other “Odds”) love to think of themselves as wise and skeptical, but it’s sadly true that they are as prone to fads and cults as anyone else if not more so. Hubbard realized that and took advantage of it all during his career.

          It goes way back, too. Read H.G. Wells and savor the contempt he feels for Edwardian English society. (And contrast it with Kipling’s wry affection for the world.) If science fiction has an “original sin” it’s the notion that we are smarter than other people and thereby _better_ in some undefinable way.

          1. Add in the doctors, engineers and architects who comprise the jihadis leadership. Their problem is failure to realize that while they may be smarter and make better decisions as individuals, en masse the cumulative effect of crowd-sourced decision-making always outperforms individual decision-making in the long term. Statistics, she is cruel in her judgments.

    2. Because we’re “the other” and therefore don’t fit as others or as we think others do. Also, we tend to think too much and be able to rationalize practically everything.

    3. Say you have a young Odd who is the target of choice for a whole. Damn. School. And you have one teacher who cares for that Odd, who steps in and 1) bends the rules to give the Odd a place to stay during lunch and 2) assures the Odd that the other students are in the wrong and that the Odd will be vindicated some day. What happens if that teacher/authority figure decides to use the Odd for his/her/its own purposes? Teacher gets a very willing and able assistant who would do anything for them. Even setting up another teacher, or framing a student in order to hurt that student’s parents.

      Thanks be, the teacher was a lot, lot more moral than that, and this Odd gritted her teeth and dreamed of escaping to the stars, not of revenge (that came later and it was the “wait until I’m the Chief of the Joint Chiefs. Then you’ll realize what a chance you missed” type of revenge, instead of the “mysterious explosion at Billy’s Bar and Bait Shop kills 2/3 of the East Elbow High School Class of 19XX alumni, who were gathered for their reunion” kind of revenge.)

      1. Yes – 😉 It makes me sad that the shooters in these schools seem to be Odds. Plus a willing and loyal Odd turned to the dark side? It makes me shudder.

      2. Well… the amazing thing is HOW OFTEN the oddest of the odds is the target for the whole.damn.school. In my case there were political explanations, but I’m going to guess it would have ended close to there anyway. I’m not, you see, “normal” and I was never very good at pretending.

        1. It’s not amazing that it would happen. What’s amazing is that more administrators don’t predict it and take steps to prevent kids being too hard on us hardcore Odds. (I was lucky; I did have some teachers who kept an eye on me; but mostly the adults seemed to be wilfully blind to the obvious facts.)

          1. Oh yeah. It was all “you’re so smart and mature, you can handle ANYTHING.” Hint, if you put a thirty year old Phd in a schoolboy’s body and send him to first grade, he’ll be terrified. School is savage-land. I think most adults don’t get that.

            1. Well, they handled it alright, not well, but they handled it. Hint, odds tend to be problem solvers, and judgement is one of those things that can be taught, but is usually learned through trial and error, and grows with both experience and maturity.

              1. How does the old saw run: Judgement is gained from experience. Experience is gained from exercising poor judgement.

            2. My parents say it wasn’t bad in their time – granted, in their time, most kids were working at wage jobs during high school and had a lot more responsibility, which tends to grow people up. (Plus what my generations called nerdy people were the cool ones.)

              1. One thing we all have to remember — there are multiple kinds of “Odds”. There are the physical odds who are so clumsy they trip over their own NOSE; there are the nerdy odds who are so bored with school they do things to “get some excitement going”, then there’s the “I’m, going to feel like I’m in jail for the next four years” odds that all they want to do is something different, somewhere different, and the odds that “go along to get along, so I can get this over with”. And yes, usually there is one or two that catch the abuse from everyone. We had one young lady in high school that almost committed suicide it was so bad for her. Luckily for me, a quarter of the high school class was either a relative, or the relative of a relative, so I never quite got the “you don’t belong” behavior. That’s exactly what it is, though — most of the kids form groups of one kind or another, and there’s always a few kids that are left out. They don’t belong to ANY group, and there aren’t enough of them to form their own group with more than two or three members — at most.

                  1. Yeah, those all do travel together, don’t they?

                    There’s also the socially awkward kids – I don’t get teens much now (except for the ones like me) because I didn’t get them back then. I always got kids and adults just fine, though, so I’ve decided that teenage-hood is just a period of temporary insanity caused by massive amounts of hormones.

                    1. That realization is basically what kept me from severe depression, and possibly becoming a psychopath.

                    2. You opted out of psychopath? Not me; I am a very happy and well-adjusted psychopath — but I do know what I am. Just too smart & lazy to deal with the hassles of eliminating all who richly warrant killing, and too diligent and thorough to start a job without reasonable expectations of finishing it.
                      😉

                    3. If so, then why are so many of my classmates still there a decade later?

                      And why didn’t it exist a century ago?

                      I think partly it’s hormones, but a lot of the more obnoxious stuff is cultural. “You’re only young once” as an excuse to be an utter twit. Well into retirement, from some of the 60s “rebels” that never got a clue…..

                    4. Once upon a time, the teen years were the start of adulthood and you were expected to act like an adult and were given adult responsibilities.

                      Currently, it appears that teens aren’t allowed to be either adults or children.

      3. On a different tangent, would that teacher, and other adults with no clear advantage to gain, qualify as the fairy godmother? In the really real world, there are no magic wands – but there are plenty of small miracles, people willing to provide a hand up, a brief shelter from the storm, an encouraging word, a good book, and the small graces that enable you to recognize that this, too, shall pass.

          1. In all my years as the king’s mistress, I was called many things, but it wasn’t until after I retired from the court life that I picked up the strangest one of all. Yes, fairy godmother. All I did was supply the dress and the sculpted shoes that the king had given to me as an unwearable gift – none of mine would fit her, you see. Besides, all the palace staff knew those shoes; she’d need no invitation to enter and press the king to support her claim to her ancestral lands. I thought it would be simple, and she should be able to resolve the matter quickly. None of us counted on the youngest, the one who was headed for a monastery for lack of any means to support him in higher station, being the one the king sent to ask her why she was wearing those shoes. He’s always been far too much of a bookworm to aspire to higher rank in the church – and the girl, well, she lived in her father’s library. One simple little request for support turned into hours of talking books instead, until she very nearly missed my driver. I warned her that he turns in at midnight, and he’s too old to wait up on dancing til dawn.
            Three times I sent her, and while those two were discussing Greek philosophers and love, the king (who has never been slow to seize an opportunity), realized he had a chance to settle his son with a woman who already had a Baron’s dowry. Then she lost a shoe, because she left it almost too late. Youth!
            The way they tell it ’round the country now, you’d think he asked every servant girl from border to border to try on the shoe. More like, he went to get her out from her stepmother’s grip, and thought it an inspired bit of theater. I know that old biddy, and it’s true she broke her eldest daughter’s foot to try to force it in – she thought she’d keep the land and get a royal son in law, blessed gift from the heavens for a little trickery.
            She never counted on just how bloody awful and resilient those shoes were. I told you they were sculptures, not meant to be worn. Well, after the dust settled, they could hardly acknowledge that she found a courtesan to get her way in and around court – we’re never acknowledged, dear. Must have been the fairies! And that’s how I became a fairy godmother.

              1. It’s all your fault. Well, no, really it’s that I can’t shut my brain off, and when I had an afternoon full of mind-numbing repetition trying to make reality match the computer’s idea of optimum performance (yay job!), I kept chewing on your comments on Cinderella, self-reliance, and fairy godmothers vs. deus ex machina, until that was hashed out. Nothing of your original point about betrayal survived, though, so it wasn’t able to close the loop and come ’round again to the point of your post. Frustrating, that.

                And then I thought, if I had to have it stuck in my head, I was going to inflict it on you. And then you commented before I could take it back. Is this how writers are hatched?

                    1. With the wonders of the internet and electronic bookkeeping (a la Quicken), I balance the checkbook every morning after I sit down at work and drink the first cup o’ joe. It usually takes about ten minutes max if I do it every day. Tuesday’s are usually a little longer, but that’s because you’ve got a weekend and Monday to reconcile. The only think you really need to remember to do is put in any check written the following day so the money is allocated.

                      It’s pretty damned simple and I never lose track…which is saying a LOT for me given my checking account acumen over the course of my adult life.

                    2. There are pre-paid debit cards, too. I think they sell them at the grocery store, and I know you can get them from the USAA member store, if you’ve got them.

                    3. Hell, you can buy Amazon gift cards at Walgreens and CVS. Probably not Walmart and Target now. It’s quite telling that neither retailer will carry Kindle products anymore.

                    4. Many banks (Wells Fargo, BofA) offer debit cards that can be used just like MasterCard or Visa. If you open a checking account you can keep the balance near zero while using the associated card just like a credit card for such online purchases, shifting funds (are there any banks which do not provide online account access for transfers? Does Obama know that such interfaces eliminate far more banking industry jobs than ATMs?) as necessary.

                      It is also relatively easy to purchase “pre-paid” credit cards for such purposes. I don’t use them and thus cannot recall where I have seen them – they seem as ubiquitous as chapstick, butane lighters and $10 thumb drives wherever I shop.

            1. Oh, nobly done indeed!

              So, now that you’ve got the one percent inspiration, let’s see the results of the ninety-nine percent perspiration.

        1. I agree, there are many little miracles, acts of kindness, paying forward an act from someone else, giving without strings. It is too bad that many see people who do good for goods sake are considered chumps by the cynical and angry.

          Example: We were out having dinner and saw two men in uniform sitting down to eat. I immediately told the waitress serving all of us, that we would pick up the cost of both of the Army men’s meals. When they asked for their bill, she told them it was taken care of. The older man wrote on his business card, “Thank you for making my day.” The younger man said out loud, “Why the hell would strangers pay for my meal?” The waitress gave them our note that said, “Thank you for serving our country, we are very proud of you. An American Citizen.” The young man was still agitated, but his friend calmed him down and told him to accept a gift with grace and appreciation – only his language was typically Army language.

          We have become a country of cynics in many ways. That is a very sad comment on the mindset of many of the young people today. “What’s in it for me” used to be a greedy phrase, now it is expected. And no one seems to understand that there are kindnesses for no other reason than one person sees a need in another person and fills it. Sigh . . . I guess I do belong back in the 1940’s and 50’s.

          1. “I guess I do belong back in the 1940′s and 50′s.”

            No, Karron, you belong right here and now. I know the feeling – I’ve felt the same way many times, more and more often as I’ve learned more of the world and how messed up it is. But you are when and where you should be. I can say that with certainty for two reasons. First, God put you here; He knows your needs best of anyone, and this was His plan for you. Second, the world needs people to champion those values. I look back in time and wish a little that I could have lived when the world at least paid lip service to decorum, honor, and dignity. But if all of us who value those things went away, who would teach them? Who would rescue the Odds of today, show them something to look up and forward to? It can be rough here and now, but it’s the right place for us.

            1. Thank you for the reminder. And you are right, it is God’s plan, not mine, so I had best suck it up and get on with things.

              1. You made a nice gesture; what other people do with it is their problem.

                And if the young guy was a little PTSD or a little over-independent, he was probably just prickling up by reflex. You and the other man engaged in some anti-prickle work; but expect such treatments not to work immediately.

                1. Every time we see someone in uniform, we thank them for their service, and if we are at a restaurant, we always pick up their tab without them knowing. Just a small thing for the big things that they do. I think the young man was probably flustered because it had never happened before. Either way, it was not just an act of kindness, it was to honor them and to show our patriotism. (Military brat here. In doing genealogy I have discovered that the men in my family lines have served in every military campaign since the Revolutionary War. My dad was Army, my brother Marines, my Son Marine, and right now my nephew is serving in the Army as a Captain and just got back from Afghanistan.)

                1. I think He thinks we need to learn some humility.

                  One problem we have is that we learn The Story Of The Fall (aka: Eden’s Apples) too early in life. We tend, by the time we reach adulthood, to forget certain salient points. Eve had no idea anybody could exaggerate, fib, misrepresent — Lie. So of course she was susceptible to the Serpentine wiles. And when He returned his attention to The Garden, He was interrogating two people who had just learned to lie.

                  There they stood with chocolate and crumbs (figuratively) smeared all over their faces, “covering their nakedness” and when He gives them a chance to ‘fess up about getting into the Heavenly Cookie Jar … all parents who have found a three-year-old standing amongst the shards of the cookie jar trying to cobble up an explanation know how He felt.

                  1. I lean toward the Pratchett-Gaiman thinking – given human nature, what could really be the intention of someone putting what was essentially a great big blinking red DON’T TOUCH button on something? 🙂

                2. The absolute proofs that God has a sense of humor are creatures such as the aardvark, and such vegetables as the rutabaga.

                  I’ve been hanging out with this gang for too long. I’m coming down with some of the ailments that plague the rest of you. Today it’s an infection of my right elbow that is causing my arm to swell and my fingers to not work properly. Plus it’s painful. I doubt there will be a lot of progress made on anything. I may sit here and play Angry Birds all day. Luckily,
                  it doesn’t hurt to read.

            2. “I guess I do belong back in the 1940′s and 50′s”
              The other thing to consider is the likelihood that such values and attitudes were no more present in that era than they are this one. Perspective can cast a rosy haze over the past. It is different if you are watching a Rooney/Garland movies or one starring Bogart, Cagney or Robinson.

    4. Laurie, you yourself mention High School, so you know that, especially when young, Odds often feel abused (sometimes with reason, sometimes not, but it doesn’t matter in the end), and when something or someone comes along and convinces them that “this will make everyone accept you, and you won’t be abused any more”, it can be a powerful influence.

      Some are more susceptible to that than others. Strangely, those that go on about “I don’t care what other people think about me” seem to be the most likely to cleave to a particular group and demonize those that have been painted as in league with their former “abusers”. And, as has been pointed out, the ones doing the painting are the ones that they should actually be afraid of.

      1. I’ve heard one person (not an Odd, but a keen observer of humanity) suggest that the most screwed up of the Odds are those with absent or otherwise uncaring parents. I’m sure there are other causes, but that’s at the bottom of a number of them. Certainly, loving and accepting parents make an enormous difference.

    5. Same as any other person, I’d say– they think thinks will be better if they do this thing.
      If folks are secure enough, even if it’s not the same kind of security others have, then they’re not a risk. If just being Odd means they can never have any sort of life, heaven help you. Odds really do try to work into a group, in my experience, we’re just not good at matching the style of normal folks. If there’s “room” in the normal groups for someone who is “a bit odd, but a decent person– a better friend you’ll never have, if you can win him” then the Odd will be fine. If, like high school, there isn’t, there’s a problem.

      A thought– the lower the stakes, the more vicious the group will be about deviation. My grandfather was definitely odd, and my grandmother on the other side probably was as well, but they were accepted because they contributed to the whole.
      Vs what I suspect most of us noticed if there were group projects in school, where you could do all of it and the scorn wouldn’t even slow down. They don’t really care about the work.

      1. Most leaders throughout history, both good and bad, (this includes Hitler as well as Thomas Jefferson) have been odds. Like an off-colored wolf, they don’t fit in, so they either are run out of the pack, or are tough enough (or smart, ruthless, pick your enough trait) to become the leader. Humans are pack animals, anyone different they will try to run off or destroy, if they can’t do that, oftentimes they will emulate them.

  5. “From this I mentioned in passing that excluded groups are always a risk in any system, because you’re going to get the brilliant young man or woman who can’t advance for some reason that has nothing to do with him or her: homosexuality; gender; race; handicap… whatever it turns out to be that the society considers bad.”

    Hmmm. Authors have been excluded from power in ‘the publishing system’ for much of its history (except for those weird souls who vanity-published, and sold the results out of their trunks).

    And Trad Publishing has had its foot on the neck of authors – one little author against a whole system of agents, editors, and publishers – with promises of wealth if they are good enough – until recently.

    It is never easy for someone (Trad Pub) to lose a servant (a concept that has stuck with me since a little paperback called The Kitchen Sink Papers written by a guy who stayed home with the kids for a year after being a working journalist). So Trad Pub is screaming its head off, and threatening writers.

    While the ODD writers are going about their business, leaving home and finding their own princes, thank you very much!

    What you said is why, when a bad guy in a movie gets something because someone betrays the other side, we are never surprised when said bad guy shoots the betrayer in the head: if he would betray the other side, he is untrustworthy in general, and would betray the new side as soon as it was to his own interests. Such people are dangerous to have around.

    It forms the core of one of the Firefly episodes (Ariel): Jayne’s betrayal of his side in what he thinks will be his own financial interest. First, his new employers try to kill him. And then, the captain (who has figured out the betrayal) almost puts him out to vacuum. The lesson Jayne learns is worth it: you HAVE friends and enemies – don’t betray your friends.

    We writers are odd, no two ways about it: there aren’t, relatively speaking, that many of us. And we have a gift ‘normal’ ‘regular’ people don’t have: making up lies and actually writing them down.

    We will always be suspect, even though some of our kind wrote The Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, and the Constitutions of the world.

    Totalitarian governments never try to suppress plumbers.

    1. “Totalitarian governments never try to suppress plumbers.”

      Another group they try to suppress is the Amateur Radio operators. It happened in Panama during Just Cause. It has happened in other places as well. Most of these governments do not want anyone out there to get the word out.

  6. Sarah, I notice you used the word “excluded” to explain why a character opens the gates to tricksters who will make their lives much worse than before. If I follow the various characters you cited in fiction, history, and ordinary life, all were on the ODD spectrum. Aren’t many of us? Yes, me too.

    But what of those who choose ODD? I am one of four siblings, the oldest. My mother let me feel over-responsible not only for her problems, but also for my siblings. I don’t do that anymore, but one sibling in particular says things which are almost unbearable to listen to.

    My brother’s life is a shambles. Forty years ago he was mostly likely to succeed: High IQ, photographic memory, Math genius, spoke Latin, Greek, German, and French. Today? He wants to destroy capitalism. Period. His ex-girlfriend from the commune raised his two children on San Francisco welfare programs, and they agree: capitalism has got to go.

    Back to your question. Why would someone “open the gates” to tricksters, ignoring the likelihood of a worse life? I think I have the answer. This is not a contradiction in human behavior. It is an affirmation of the power of envy, the bitterness of resentment, the burning desire to get even.

    Four years ago one of the presidential candidates was caught saying that he could not appeal to the “bitter clingers”. He was mistaken.

    1. One pattern I’ve noticed among that type is the thinking, “I can’t make it in the current system. The problem couldn’t possibly be me (because I’m so smart and superior), therefore, the problem must be with the current system. Thus, this evil system must be destroyed to make way for the system I mastermind which will recognize me for the superior creature that I am.” Very tempting to the dysfunctional intellectual high school kid.

    2. I’ve also found that people who rail against capitalism don’t have a clue about what capitalism is.

    3. Think about how much of the current rhetoric on the Left focuses on “inequality.” Not “do you have bread?” but “someone has MORE than you!” It plays on the resentments of those who think they deserve more success in life. And unfortunately one thing that an unfettered market economy does VERY well is to identify and encourage people’s desires for more.

      1. We don’t have anywhere close to an unfettered market economy — would that we did — and besides no. TRULY no. You can’t blame the envy of the leftists on “unfettered market.” Unfettered market means you have a chance. The envy that’s central to the left means you believe “the man is keeping the stash.” The more the government controls, the more credence it lends to that point.

        1. You miss my point, Sarah. Market economies satisfy people’s desires. The market shows you neat stuff you might want (because otherwise how can the sellers feed their children). Everyone sees the neat stuff, and there develops the sense that “I should have that neat stuff! They’re KEEPING IT FROM ME!” And pretty soon elections become an auction — vote for whoever promises more stuff. Or you get a revolution, when the dissatisfied (NOT the truly desperate) hope to wind up with all the stuff.

  7. de·us ex ma·chi·na
    [ dày əss eks mkinə ]

    An unconvincing character who resolves plot: an improbable character or unconvincing event used to resolve a plot
    A god who resolves plot: in ancient Greek and Roman theater, a god introduced to resolve a complicated plot

    I consider the deus ex manchina the original Fairy Godmother rescue source. When the plot gets into a rut or backed in to a corner, the magical answer appears and suddenly there is an answer to our issues. Which is, of course, a load of bull pucky.

    If it is too good to be true, it probably isn’t, and there is always a price to pay for something that comes to you for free. My great grandmother used to say that to me all the time. To her, if someone gave her a gift, she felt obligated to return the favor, otherwise she felt as if she was out of balance with that person. The same thing with things being too good to be true, generally everyone has a hidden agenda, be very careful what you accept from anyone. She was “certain sure” that human beings were much more self interested than charitable.

    I am an ODD. As a child, I lived abroad most of my developing years. I spoke German and English at the age of four. I taught myself to read at the same age. And my first memory is when I was about 12 months old. I was walking around my great grandparents bed, and listening to them talking. My great grandfather leaned over the side of the bed and said, “Sylvie, I think we should call this one Jody.” (middle name is Joe, yes spelled like a boy) My great grandmother agreed, picked me up and sat me on the bed and tickled me.

    By the time my father finally retired from the Army, I spoke four languages in varying degrees of bad – now I speak five since Mandarin was my language at university. So when I went to school in America, I had a slightly British/German accent to my English. (still do if I am tired or mad) I also spoke what I was taught as proper language and manners. In the late 1960’s I was decidedly a 1940’s kind of kid. That made me ODD. And so it goes throughout my life.

    One thing I have learned is that there is no rescue from life’s horrors. Not in the way it happens in Fairy Tales. When it comes down to it, you can only really rescue yourself (with a bit of nudging from God).
    My godmother, was found in books. By hiding in books, I could avoid anything unpleasant. And it was through books that I finally learned enough to realize that I was uniquely me. It doesn’t matter what others think of me, I can rescue myself and be myself, regardless.

    1. Fairy godmothers usually come at the beginning or middle of the story, not at the end. It’s an image of kindness, but it’s also an image of the person suddenly having power that they didn’t have before. That’s why it’s often replaced in stories by a previously-unrecognized magic item or a stash of treasure.

      1. Fairy Godmothers don’t always show up on time, and sometimes they expect the heroine or hero to work it out on their own while the GM holds back the rest of the monsters. Grimm Brothers are the best tellers of fairy tales because they don’t romance it up into fantasy. I don’t see fairy tales as anything different that a morality tale of one sort or another, and the protagonist always portrays at least one deadly sin, while the hero or heroine have at least one of the opposite traits.

        1. of course time in fairyland runs differently.
          (is now picturing poor Gabriel Penn becoming someone’s elven godfather… 😛 I don’t want Witchfinder to have “Kittens” yet. I want to figure out how it sells, first.

  8. I have two bones to pick with you. Both are tangential to your main thesis. I heartily endorse your thesis.

    1) when I was employed by NSA in the early 80s it was understood that homosexuals could not get top security clearances because their homosexuality was a “blackmailable” element of their background.

    The enemy had demonstrated this with Alan Turing. They used his sexuality to coerce him into betraying his secrets. He responded to these RUSSIAN blackmail attempts by suicide. (Nobody ever seems to blame them for his death.) A person in an adulterous relationship could be just as blackmailable. Thus you could lose your clearance by stepping out on your spouse.

    The Soviets were masters at using sex to entangle those they wanted to turn. As long as a gay remained closeted, s/he was at risk of enemy coercion by the threat of disclosure. At this point a catch-22 kicked in, because other factors encouraged gays to remain closeted. I have no idea what the rules are today. I have every hope they’ve changed. Maybe Russians blackmail NSA workers today with threats of disclosing conservatism. (“I have these photographs of you at a Reagan rally in 1982.”)

    2) the term “miracle” is subject to variant definition. If you believe in the uniformity of cause-and-effect in a closed system, there is no such thing as any “miracle” and any stories about Jesus doing them must be fables. This is what Atheists and Deists believe. Christian Theism asserts that God establishes a uniformity of cause-and-effect (Natural Law), but allows himself occasional interventions by the good pleasure of his will.

    And others, most notably Catholics, seem to point to singular, individual achievements that lie so far outside the normal that they seem impossible. (But when you look closely, cause-and-effect were working normally.) The boy’s Boston Marathon performance in the movie “Saint Ralph” comes to mind.

    And others, take commonplace events that they find very meaningful and call them miracles. Like childbirth or a sunrise. No, those things can be explained with just normal science.

    I prefer to think of “miracles” as God’s nudging aside temporarily of cause-and-effect to bring about something that is impossible to explain even with a perfect understanding of how cause-and-effect works. OF course, I’m just a Puritan, what do I know?

    1. I can attest to “full confessions” when I was in the Navy. My brother was in the Merchant Marines and traveled to the Suez Canal, Hong Kong, etc. I would go to my security officer and tell her where that brother was now. It happened so often that they had one line in my record: Brother is in the merchant marines and travels to a lot of places not on the approved list. 😉

      So I learned early (because of my job etc) that it could be easy to get entangled. If you “confessed” any time you made contact to someone who was “fishy,” then you were considered “not a threat” to security.

      I was so happy when I decided to finish my enlistment. It felt like Catch 22 the whole time.

    2. I don’t see how your first point IS a problem with what I said. It is pretty much what I said.
      The second… In my experience, someone changing completely overnight is a miracle. A series of coincidences falling “just so” is a miracle from a mathematical pov. Not being Muslim I choose to believe my G-d is rational and leaves the pathway open to an “explanation” of sorts, but one so unlikely that in the end it’s “miracle” and “thumb on the scales.” Do you really want to go to war over this? You won’t like it. Jesus’ miracles? Posit a multiuniverse and you can explain them. But G-d while acting outside our experience does not play poker with the Universe. If He did, then our free will would be in vain.

      1. Assume a Deity outside of Time (or, if you prefer, for Whom Time is merely one of multiple dimensions through which He moves as easily as the first three) and you find that omniscience is explained (He knows what you will do because he observes it as what you have done) and that Causality becomes meaningless, Cause and Effect being an aspect of Time.

      2. as for free will being in vain, i AM a Calvinist . This is a conversation to have over drinks with a lot of time to chase down rabbit trails.

        It was enlightening when the Pope spoke of the need for God to be rational, or at least comprehensible to rational minds, in order for interfaith dialog to take place. And then the Islamic street started rioting and murdering nuns.

  9. @Karron;

    Not sure that deus ex machina fits the FG stereotype. Usually FGs act as catalysts — stirring the sh*t to randomize the situation at or near the outset of the tale, whereas the dxm generally steps in at the climax to gordian-knot an irresolvable conflict.

    @Sarah;

    Like Steve, I agree with the central premise. But I disagree that FGs are possessed of — scorn quotes — “benign” intentions (e.g., wish fulfillment), even in the most Disneyfied fairy tales. Strikes me that FGs are meant to be cautionary figures, as Jack in the Beanstalk is meant to convey the caution “beware of deals that seem too good to be true.” And, like Gordon’s Fairy Godmother Department clerk, they can just as easily turn into Maleficent as they can bring about results like the Blue Fairy.

    Speaking of whom, there’s a type (I think) well-suited to a Human Wave story. She is a guardian, yes, a demi-divine who loves the protagonist. She does not intervene in the necessary process of his learning of lessons, only promises at their outset that, if he does well, he will garner a reward. And, when he does — finally — she comes through. Seems to me she does a better job at the whole fairygodmothering thing than Cinder-sweetie’s.

    M

    1. I never said they had benign intentions. I said they didn’t exist. IF I believed in them, I’d assume they had their own agenda. My reaction to people saying that ET’s come over to tell us not to pollute is “Do they prefer higher oxygen, lower carbon worlds when they invade?”

      1. LOL – what a great answer. If there are aliens coming to our planet, I am pretty sure it is for their own interests.

        Also FGs and anyone else… as Ben Franklin said: God helps those who help themselves– I used that as a mantra, and it helped me make it.

      2. *snort* You ARE cynical. 🙂

        But I am sick of the ET as magical deus-ex-machina fairy godmother trope – I’m not so much mad at the ET character as I am with the idea that people just need to stand around and do nothing, but as as long as they mean well, the ET will fix everything.

        I see this in Apocalypse stories as well (C.S. Lewis, as fond as I am of him, does this in That Hideous Strength) – it often goes so far (C.S. Lewis again) as saying we good people are too good to get our hands dirty and take action, so we’ll send this soiled fallen character to do what needs to be done.

        1. so we’ll send this soiled fallen character to do what needs to be done.

          That’s a powerful trope itself, mind you. I suspect Batman is nearly its archetype. (Not quite; he’s scarred, not fallen…)

          1. But Batman is the hero – in the Apocalyptic novels, the heroes are the “good” people looking down their noses at the fallen guy who actually does the work; they consider him at best a necessary evil.

            It also happened in the one Stephen King novel I’ve read, The Stand. All the good people sit around being completely passive, having picnics, because taking action is evil; while the evil people conveniently blow themselves up.

  10. Nobody ever mentions the important thing about fairy godmothers — they’re slackers. Apologetic slackers, I guess, but slackers.

    Cinderella’s mother had been dead for a good long time before her madrina bothered to come back and do her Christian duty for her. And really, she should have been stopping by to check on Cinderella when her mom was still alive. Total slacker.

    1. You know, I’d never thought of that before. I’m unclear on the specific duties of a godparent (I was sort of a padrinho to a young lady in Brasil, but it was half joking and neither of us was Catholic at that point) but I know enough to know that never showing up for over a decade is bad form indeed. And now that I’m thinking of it, how on Earth do you get one of the *fey* to stand in as part of a holy Christian rite? Church bells, cold iron, invocations of Jesus, holy water… I’m amazed she showed up, not to mention failing to catch on fire! Either that faerie was herself an extreme Odd or Cindy’s parents had an incredible hold on her.

        1. Hmmm, what if you have a Fey who is able to ally with a certain type of Christian – sort of how Brighid the goddess became St. Brigid of Ireland? The Fey acknowledges that the White Christ’s followers come in different types, works with those who follow one path (Celtic Church pre-Synod of Whitby) and avoids some others (Church of Rome)? So you end up with the child of “heretics” having a Fey godmother . . . Poor kid, the deck is really stacked.

          1. St. Brigid the extremely hardworking nun who was the daughter of a slave concubine of a minor Irish king and broke up the caste system by refusing to pay attention to it, has surprisingly little in common with Brigid the royal daughter of the Dagda and mistreated wife of that ungenerous jerk king Bres the Beautiful. One of ’em grew up to rule a fair chunk of Ireland by personality and sainthood, and one of ’em was a kinda whiny minor goddess who owes all her charisma to the saint or to Athena. Reading up on Irish mythology and Christian patristics turns Brigid the goddess into a real disappointment, and Brigid the nun into a very dynamic figure. (And given that the saint founded one of the great lost libraries of Europe, whereas the goddess didn’t….)

            Also, the “eternal flame” had nothing to do with Irish pagan customs, being actually a later medieval import from Europe of a Christian fad. There were eternal flames for Christ all over Europe, and the one at Kildare was just the last to survive that we know about. (The fad probably had a lot to do with St. Eligius, who had some kind of natural/miraculous eternal flame associated with his grave, IIRC.)

      1. I always assumed that she was a relative, actually. Helps that I’m only familiar with them being driven off by cold iron crosses (usually a pair of scissors) and their magic being disrupted by Church Bells.

        I guess the classic “midwife called in to help the Fey” story could be background, too. Makes for an ironic twist on Cinderella’s story if her mother died in childbirth, after saving a lady of the Fey from the same.

        1. German fairies and French fee aren’t the same as English and Irish fairies. I mean, that one French family had Melisande the snake woman as a fairy ancestress, and she lived right in the house with a chapel and church bells. So obviously tolerance varied.

          1. …Now I’m trying to build a format that makes sense, based on intentions. Since the various anti-Fey measures were to stop malicious ones, perhaps a format based on the “neither heaven nor hell” angelic origin would work?

            I vaguely remember reading one format of the Vampire story that had them repelled by crucifixes because of the intense sense of loss they had– they had rejected the Sacrifice, so the intense pain was too much to bear.
            That might work if the steal-a-baby fairies were the more hell-inclined, and the bless-this-child ones were more heaven inclined.

            …wouldn’t that make the “I have a fairy ancestor” folks Nephilim?

            1. One of the theories for the fey was angels that had fallen “but not all the way” — the other was dead people too good for hell, too bad for heaven. Sort of an Earthly purgatory, I guess.

      1. I like M. L.’s take: individual receives the short end of the fairy tale stick, gets a chance to study, work hard, and corrupt the system from inside. Godmothers provide some resources but have certain limits (power, need an individual inside the story to say “oh poot! Why should I have to suffer a Predestined Fate of Doom?”, have to stick with a fairy-tale framework).

    2. I’ve always wondered about that. After all, if she was a Godmother, shouldn’t SHE have assumed responsibility for Cinderella upon her father’s death? 😀

    3. Yaknow. This is something you never hear about fairy godparents. They are godparents. They should be at the church when the kid gets christened. (what did the priest thing about fairies in his church?) And if mom’s dead they should be involved in the kid’s catechism and all that. there should be a story that explores this angle.

      1. Well, obviously, the FG either has a VERY busy schedule, or she is limited to only one intervention and thus chose the one most crucial point that would have the biggest impact in Cindy’s life. 😛

        1. Or the stepmother (or other person, or the town) has done something to keep the fairy godmother out of Cindy’s life. Of course, if the fairies have been busy waging magical warfare or court duties have kept the fairy godmother far away, or if she’s been exiled or cursed and only just got free, that could also explain it.

          1. It has long been recognized that Time in Faerie passes at a very different rate than in Mundania. That poor FG just stepped back into Faerie for a quick tryst at Oberon’s court and when she got back … My, but how Cinderella had grown! She barely recognized the br … darling child. My, but mortals have such brief lives, no wonder they’re always so impatient.

  11. There’s a lovely book newly published that discusses what Sarah calls ODD’s. In reality, it seems that those folks are really introverts, living in a culture that emphasizes extroversion. I found the book, so far, to be very descriptive of me and my world view.

    The book: “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain

    1. There’s an overlap between ODDs and Introverts, but some Introverts are not ODDs, and some ODDs are not introverts.

      ODDs are characterized by being interested in, and thinking about, subjects that are outside the mainstream. When everyone else is talking about what people are wearing, ODDs are thinking about what processes went into making the materials the clothes are made of, or else they are considering the patterns of clothing changes over time. While others are talking about sports, ODDs are wondering how the stresses of intense activity are taking their toll on people’s bodies. When other people are discussing their muscle cars, ODDs are imagining how they will power their spaceships. When we talk about these things to “normals”, they react with derision and mockery.

    2. My hubby and I are both introverts. (Are you using the Meyer-Briggs Introvert? or the other introvert definition). Plus we are both Odds. He is involved in electronics and math. I am involved with words and imagination. I think I am odder actually. 😉

        1. My hubby is ISTJ and I am INTP. The P & J really makes life interesting. (not pajamas lol) When I took the test, I was a strong I and slight NTP. So I can see the viewpoint of the STJ sometimes. 😉

                1. LOL – yep… well, the first few weeks when we had to memorize tons of acronyms was the worst other than hell week (seven days working in the kitchen–I got dish duty). But Meyers-Briggs is kind of a hobby. I have been trying to understand it for years. Plus it is the test that the Navy uses to classify people so I had to understand what they were using to put us into niches.

                2. The sad thing for me was when I completely understood the ridiculous spiel Robin Williams went on in Good Morning, Vietnam – “Sir, since the former VP is such a VIP, shouldn’t we broadcast the PC on the QT, because if it’s picked up by the VC he could go MIA, and then we’d all have extra KP.”

          1. P is perception– meaning that a person sees all sides to the argument and it is hard to make a decision. Plus they see the big picture and have a hard time with the details. I sometimes leave my stories open-ended.

            1. Ah, see, I am a J, because I’m quite able to make a decision, but I also see all sides – I enjoy doing that, I find it fascinating, so I resents it, I resents it strongly I say, the implication that I’m judgmental! 😉 (I also think a more accurate description of that last letter would be structured versus unstructured, btw. I am very structured (with moderate ADD tendencies, I actively need structure or I’ll lose touch with reality.))

              I also vary between S and N (sensory or intuitive) depending on my mood (my intuition is wrong often enough that I’ve learned to get the facts).

              But yeah, mostly, ISTJ.

              1. Yes, but is ALL of you wrong? I mean, my kids, us, dinner table. Four people, ten opinions on a good day. On a bad day more like twenty. People have described the continuous talk between my kids as “the rolling argument” and they’re not wrong.

                1. I really enjoy rolling arguments. I envy your kitchen table conversation. My parents tried dinner table conversation, but only on approved topics. My hubby gets home so tired that he just wants to sit and grunt. I don’t blame him.

                2. The dinner table is never wrong, but rarely expresses an opinion.

                  When a youth I had a newspaper route (yes, once upon a time they printed news on dead trees and engaged youths as independent contractors to not only deliver those dead trees to people’s door steps but to sell subscriptions — a primitive version of RSS — and collect fees) which entailed going downtown every Saturday to pay for my week’s papers. En route I would pass the (very imposing) First Huntington National Bank building, with its ornate clock tower in fron of the bank.

                  Every Saturday I would read their clock and adjust my wristwatch’s time setting accordingly (a wristwatch was a primitive device employing coiled spring mechanism to keep track of time’s passage, typically worn on the wrist.) My epiphany came on the Saturday when I looked at the bank’s clock and checked my watch … and decided the bank was wrong and I did not need to go to the trouble to adjust my time-keeping to match theirs.

                  Ever since I have made it my policy to accept correction only when presented a compelling and sound argument, founded on Evidence and Reason. Arguments from authority are accepted only when that authority is valid, relevant and superior to my own … and are accepted only provisionally.

                  As for a rolling argument, that is me against the world on a daily basis, starting with the alarm’s insistence that the time has arrived for me to awaken and gravity’s unreasonable adherence to an acceleration rate of 32 feet per second per second (I maintain 25 f/s/s would be perfectly adequate and much easier on my knees.) But there are few ideas that cannot be improved by Beloved Spouse and I walking around it kicking its tires metaphorically; besides, there’s glory for you!

                  1. …gravity’s unreasonable adherence to an acceleration rate of 32 feet per second per second…

                    That’s why you should switch to metric. It’s only 9.8 meters per second per second. 😉

              1. Actually – we complement each other in those areas. He keeps me on the ground and I know the motivation of the folks around us (or I see things he doesn’t because they are not in the sensory side of things).

          2. I’m ESTJ if I know the people, but I revert to the I portion if I’m at a party or a bar. Large social gatherings and I don’t get along very well. 😉

        2. INTJ (Introvert, Intuitive, Thinking, Judgment) Judgment means a person who likes something that has closure, finishes, or is not open-ended. J’s often go into law enforcement, military, or another similar field. 😉 ISTJ’s are the extreme law and order types and are common in the military.

      1. I might be an introvert, but I don’t really want to talk about it. I find it much more interesting to ponder whether that first sentence should have employed “may” rather than “might” and what effect the different word selections have.

        1. Meyer Briggs Introverts get their energy from inside (and need time alone to ponder ideas). Extroverts get their energy from outside (which is why most extroverts are bouncy in a party and calmer in a one-on-one situation). They get their ideas by communal conversation… so really a different way to look at introvert and extrovert. Still means introverts are quieter outside their comfort zone–or at least I am. 😉

          1. That implies that extroverts are more prone to amending their views according to peer opinion, like in that psychological experiment in which a classroom full of people are coached into expressing a clearly incorrect conclusion (such as the color of paint on the wall) and the unaware subject adjusts their own view to coincide with the group’s expressed view.

      2. Nope. I’m not even sure what Myers-Briggs is. The book is pretty interesting. It seems that folks with high-reactive Amygdalas tend strongly to introversion. Amygdala is the primitive part of the brain where the fight or flight response is generated. Most, if not all mammals have one. One can train the cerebral cortex to override the fight or flight response. For example: Public speaking is the task that has the highest incidence of flight or flight in the U.S. Yet, it can be overcome. I have. I was the chairman of an ANSI (American National Standards Institute) sub-committee and had to run the meeting (with mostly 30-40 people in attendance) every month. The first month was mind bending scary. I adapted. By the time the sub-committee finished it’s work, I was pretty comfortable (part of that of course is that by that time I had become familiar with many of the attendees).

        I’m not sure I agree with Wayne. But, then again, I suppose he’s parroting Sarah’s definition of ODDs. It’s pretty common for introverts to think deeply about things (like how to make something).

  12. any woman who thinks pregnancy brings no change to the mental capacities of the mother,

    I didn’t notice any. About 3 months of nausea, sure, but mental stuff? Nope. My thyroid was apparently going out in a blaze of glory during my pregnancy, and as a result… I really felt no more tired or brainfogged than pre-pregnancy. (AFTERwards, though… Ah, there’s the thyroid-went-to-bermuda-without-me stuff. Braaaaaaaains.)

    And then there’s my mom, who trilled about how she’d loved being pregnant all four times. If she hadn’t been 2000 miles away, I’d have thrown up on her shoes SO MUCH… (Though I wonder… She has the same Hashimoto’s I do. And hCG mimics TSH to the body, spurring the thyroid harder than the pituitary alone, apparently… Huh.)

    There are also reputedly people who don’t experience PMS, and/or experience it in a positive form. Lucky wenches.

    But anyway, I am minded of Kipling… “We are the little folk, we; too little to love or to hate… […] You say we’ll be slaves all the same? Yes, we have always been slaves. But you, you will die of the shame! And then we will dance on your graves.”

    1. I don’t have PMS–nor did my mom, and the only issues I had with the last two pregnancies was directly due to lack of sleep. This one? Constant exhaustion, all day sickness, etc.

      That said, I definitely know it’s not based on sexism, it’s based on real stuff, and I know baby brain exists just as much as PMS and testosterone poisoning in young men. (No, not all young guys are idiots around girls, but enough are!)

      1. While pregnant with #2 son (aka the EASY pregnancy) I sent a letter in Portuguese to my inlaws and a letter in English to my Brazilian uncle. NOT the same letter. Not the wrong letter. I just couldn’t remember who spoke whose language. I rest my case.

      2. “(No, not all young guys are idiots around girls, but enough are!)”

        Another reason to exclude women, it helped cure that problem with young men also. (Didn’t cure it, but did minimize it to an extent by by making sure no girls were present while the young idiot was making decisions)

        1. Actually studies have found both genders do better if schooled separately, but it’s no use advocating for it, because… young men do better. They just do. So, co-ed it is.

          1. Well, we could advocate it on the basis that under the current pedagogy, our young men are doing so poorly that we need to separate the genders just to achieve parity. I know, I know…feminists aren’t interested in parity, but it’s starting point.

          2. Young men and women are both prone to distorted behaviour and reasoning when in the presence of the opposite sex, displaying various forms of “look at me” behaviour in rituals as complex and blatant as any bird’s mating dance. Evolution has made them so, and you would think the advocates of evolution would acknowledge this (but they clearly feel no compunction toward consistency.)

            In my news-trolling last night I came across an article on research indicating women are less inclined to speak up when in company of men [ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9561024/Silent-with-your-friends-It-doesnt-mean-she-dislikes-them.html ]. The researchers’ solution was moronic, but the data was interesting.

            1. I am usually around of group of men because our family hobbies are male-oriented like Amateur Radio and I was in electronics for so many years. I found that when I am in a group of men that they chatter so much it is hard to get a word in edge-wise– and not because I don’t have anything to say. lol

              It surprised me at how much men talk to each other. The stereotype is that they grunt at each other.

          3. The thing is, which group’s teachers will have the better pay? That’ll be where the better teachers will tend to gravitate, and then there’ll be a Problem. (And I think there is still enough snowballed sexism and/or backlash that An Imbalance Will Occur Unless There Are Mandated Policies About It, and said Mandated Policies would then produce their own Stupidities.)

            I wish there were more schools like the private school I went to. Tiny, it was, but very useful — small classes, from 10 or so down to 1 or 2 students per English teacher, meant a lot more focus on the individual kid. Study Hall times to work on stuff so you weren’t cramming homework into dinner/home chaos. Something like an hour for lunch! (I’d have loved to’ve gotten the kid into something like that, but up here, all the private schools are denominational, and she’s an Odd religiously… Plus, the private schools in the area aren’t really any better than the public ones, and possibly worse, from what our preschool owner was saying about her kid being in one! At least in the public ones, once we got the Spectrum diagnosis (and the IQ results), we could get an IEP as our “speak softly and carry a big stick.”)

    2. No pregnancies here. Besides I watched my mother go through 8 pregnancies. By that time I was not excited about the process. Plus I used to have PMS (bad–pain, nasty temper–although not to the point of hurting someone). I did want to hurt my dad when he told me it was all in my mind and to “shake it off.” Testosterone poisoning imho. He is now almost 80 and sleeps on the couch during the day.

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