As the wedding ceremony finished up, I found the song going through my head was not in fact Sunrise Sunset, but Miracle of Miracles (also from Fiddler on the Roof.) Which — I’ll note — also went through my mind at MY wedding.
If you’re Odd, you often partner late or compromise about it, or not at all.
This is mostly because, to quote mom (on younger son, but we’ll extend it) “the world is not made for us.”
The fact that we’re Odd means we’re not, by definition, average. There are therefore, statistically, fewer available partners for us. Add to that that a lot of us first knew rejection on the playground. Comparing elementary school histories, husband and I came to the conclusion the way to find the young Odds might be to observe a buy playground. The kids balancing on a low wall, a tiny ledge around a flower bed, or whatever, while completely alone will probably grow up to be one of us. (Elementary was a little different, as I invented LARP (well, I’d never heard of it) wrote the scripts and had my very small class playing it. When I went to the bigger middle school, though, I did a lot of flower bed edge walking/balancing. Unless I could find a corner to hunker down and read.
I got very upset at a colleague who accepted his son’s diagnostic as autistic, as far as I could tell “because none of the kids in kindergarten like him.” I mean, I’m willing to admit a lot of us are or ping on the spectrum, though I’m assured younger son and I are almost anti-autistic, in that we relate so well. (You could say learned.) But we’re still profoundly introverted, so people tend to leave us alone, possibly because we’re glaring at them without realizing it. Certainly because we’re giving off “leave me alone, in my hamster ball of solitude.”
Even if we’re fairly normal, most of us seem to have limited, small-group of friends.
It could be because we’re weird. On that, we also many of them come from cuckoo’s egg families. I’m assured by psychologists that it’s not that our parents are normal as such, but they’ve learned to fake it and might no longer remember their childhood. (They say our quirks, from IQ to social presentation are in the main inherited. Mutations happen, but not often. I’m not sure I buy it, as I know families that throw out geniuses and morons. But I’ve also seen people learn to “pass” over the years until they, themselves aren’t aware they’re not average. Which is why identification is best done before High School.) So often parents and siblings are completely bewildered by us, and teach us that there is no one like us, we belong alone and why even look?
My MIL and my SIL said at some point that they introduced me to husband because they didn’t understand more than a word in three that either of us said, and because we were both interested in weird things like parallel worlds and space exploration. Oh, and we both read science fiction. Well… I read it, he watched it. Take heart children, mixed marriages can work! The reported thought was “OMG, here’s a girl who might get him. Let’s introduce them. He’ll never marry otherwise.” They were probably wrong, as when I entered the lists 4 years later, he was being pursued by several NON ODD women.
Which a lot of us “settle” for. Well, not necessarily women. Just normal.
The end results are mixed. As with everything else, it depends on the temperament of your normal spouse. If she views your oddity as a bad thing and spends the marriage trying to change you, it will end — or worse continue — in tears.
Often even happy “mixed” marriages leave the Odd feeling very lonely, unless he finds a group (real and virtual) like this to hang out with.
The thing is that most Odd marriages throughout history were of this kind. I mean, try to compute how many of us there would be in say a village of a few hundred.
It had an advantage of sorts, in that it kept mixing the genes back into the pool. As Dave Freer told me, years ago now, it’s a good thing for any social group or species to have “goats” which is what I call odds:i.e. members who don’t quite fit in, try new things, explore new paths (and new diets.) But it’s not good for us to go so far from the INSTINCTIVE socialization of our kind that we have trouble communicating across the divide.
Because it’s possible, you know?
What I mean is that you kids have it easy, with your internets, your blogs, your fan groups. You can meet people just as odd as you, strike a friendship, marry, often across the country or the world.
Sure, my generation had started doing that (Kate Paulk and I are prime examples of this, marrying our husbands across the world, after a largely long-distance courtship.) but it was all expensive phones, and cumbersome post. You guys can have virtually free Skype, with cameras even.
My prediction is that many more of us will actually marry each generation, and that many of us will marry Odd. Whether this leads to speciation, search me. Since most of us on this blog seem to have a high component of Neanderthal, it has occurred to me that perhaps this is the Neanderthal genetic come back, aka “Neanderthal resurgence, this time it’s serious.” Yes, I’m mostly joking. And if we speciated it would take a long time. Though a completely separate culture, even if online, might go a long way to mimicking that AND speeding it up as well.
But it will never be that easy or simple. Because we’re harder to partner than the average person. And Odd women particularly so, as I have a notion we scare the living daylights out of normal men. I’ve seen it in action.
So, one son married, one to go G-d willing, with a following wind and his finding someone suitable. (Almost EE, ME and ASE engineer, free to a good woman! No, seriously. All that’s required is that she be kind to him.)
Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles.
This ties in with cozy mysteries — don’t ask — where I’ve been reading a lot of them. And running into things like characters saying “We’d get married someday, but I’m still young” from characters who are about 30. And those are largely “normal” (average) characters.
I’ve been worried about this for a long time. For the new generation, it really looks like 30 is the new 20, and they’re finally ready to sort of, kind of face adulthood. “But not yet, we’re still young.”
This of course is true, because life expectancy keeps increasing, particularly active/functional life span.
OTOH there is one little hard fact we come up against: Women’s fertility starts to go sour around 30 to 35, depending on the woman, and drops off a cliff around 40. One way to stop it happening is an early (like 18) pregnancy and birth, but we surely can’t require everyone do that. To be clear, if you have a baby early, you stay fertile longer. No one is sure why, but I’m told this is known in animal husbandry.
The other problem, particularly for Odds is that for those of us with math brains (yes, defeated by digit dyslexic, but absent that that’s how test) is that both men and women have a higher chance of autistic offspring after about 35. (We used to think this made no difference for men. Turns out it does. No, I can’t find the studies, anymore.)
Which means despite all the advantages of internet, etc, people are marrying later, having fewer kids, and Odds tend to marry later than normals.
What to do about it? No clue. Maybe at some point there will be a drug that mimics that early pregnancy (I don’t know. The pill doesn’t do it.)
There have also been advances in freezing eggs and even one’s ovary. There seem to be some advantages to the second in terms of prolonging fertility, but it’s still very expensive. If it had existed in my time, and I’d known how negotiated my fertility would be, I might have tried it. It would give us a chance at more. If I were a young odd right now, still unmarried, and had the money? I’d surely do it.
Because the one thing I know is that they’ll need Odds in the future. They’ll need normal people, too. The future belongs to those who show up.
Ignore the idiots who say that we have too many people. No, rat experiments don’t apply to humans. No, we’re not overwhelming the environment. Only a big-city-dweller would believe that. And Europeans should be aware that they have a countryside that’s getting emptier and emptier, and that still, compared to America, they’re crowded, even in the semi-deserted back of nowhere. In America we have miles and miles of miles and miles.Often with extra miles. Famines? all of the ones in the last 100 years have been a matter of distribution, mostly messed up by totalitarian regimes and crazy politics. Ultimately the answer to “Too many people” is “Too many for what?”
And the answer to human voluntary extinction is “you first, bub.” Because if you’re a human who hates humans, what in fact you’re saying is that you hate yourself. You first.
I believe in the future. I believe in finding mates who understand us, love us, and make our lives richer. And I believe in children, normal and Odd alike going on long after we sleep in the dust with our forefathers.
I’ll drink to that.
Miracle of miracles.