There is no end to the joy I experienced upon discovering that the computer scientists and mathematicians call an asterisk a splat. Thanks, Google!
The Internet has appropriated Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and turned it into a catch-all to describe people who like patterns (much to the consternation of people who actually suffer from OCD, as evidenced by the comments section of this Buzzfeed post.) I do not have OCD (also, big pet peeve: people who say they “are” OCD when they mean they “have” OCD, because that be bad grammars) but I find myself increasingly irked by product labeling that doesn’t use the asterisk properly. This is something I notice primarily on shampoo bottles, but I feel like I’ve also seen it on a food box or two. Asterisks (lat.: asterici) are wonderful little tools used in written communication to direct the reader to a footnote. I usually do what shampoo tells me to, so when I see an asterisk after “if not completely satisfied, call so and such a number”, I always scour the rest of the bottle until I find its correlating message. And when I can’t find it, I get frustrated, like really frustrated. I don’t really know who thought it was acceptable to throw a little splat after that sentence without following through on a footnote. It’s like telling your dog “wanna go for walkies??” then settling in on the couch for a GoT marathon. Is asterisk usage one of those things that I assume is universally understood, but it is in fact only grasped by the college-educated culturally elite? Are the shampoo people hubristic? These things keep me up at night.
OCD or no, so many other things were wrong with me during my childhood. I had a growth hormone deficiency and had to take steroids to induce puberty. I had shitty brain chemistry and spent years taking mood stabilizers and antidepressants. Oh, and I tested positive for Asperger’s more than once. Weird, right? I’m not autistic. If you know me, that’s pretty obvious. If you don’t, let’s FaceTime one day and I’ll make extended eye-contact with you. iContact. Nonetheless, I spent a good chunk of my life believing I had Asperger’s.*
(Speaking of OCD, I have no idea why the spacing of the above paragraph is different from all the others, but I can’t figure out how to fix it and it is KILLING ME.)
I spent my childhood, teenage years, and indeed the first year of college thinking I was a differently-abled person. It became the source of and justification for my social alienation. Hindsight (aka maturity?) reveals that most kids feel alienated at some point in their lives (and those who don’t – the bullies, the jocks, the cheerleaders – ultimately grow up to lead a sad, unfulfilled existence) (except they totally don’t – popular and powerful teenagers empirically grow up to be popular and powerful adults,) but I leaned heavily on my fucked up brain as an excuse not to assimilate, not to capitulate, not to fit in.
There’s a narrative trope that the ones who don’t fit in (but don’t off themselves, more on that next week) make the best poets, playwrights, painters, etc. It’s such a beautiful fantasy when you’re a kid. All that angst, pain, suffering, estrangement, all leading to a life of creative fulfillment where people who get you really get you. I consider myself a career artist. I design lights and write plays and pay my bills with it. That alone is kinda mindblowing. But I also consider myself a people person, a wit, a bon-vivant, a social Tarzan, swinging from conversation to conversation. Do you have to be tortured to be an artist? For every Vincent van Gogh, there must be an Oscar Wilde. For every Warhol, there should be a Warhol.
Also, I have an ego problem. I spent a lot of years hating myself. I used to be obese and contrarian and (gasp) sober. Then I started working out, agreeing, and drinking, and the pendulum swung the other way. Last year I wrote a play called Me Love Me about a narcissistic coke-head actor wannabe who rapes his own 4-year-old biological clone. It was fun. Whenever I told anyone about the play, it invariably invited conversations about “fight or fuck” i.e. if you met yourself, would you fight or fuck. People are always surprised to hear I would fight.
Have I mentioned I might be a homophobe? I think much of my youthful self-loathing also sprayed shrapnel on the gay community because they were pretty and I was not. Now I have an inherent distrust of gay people, and I always like to be the gayest person in the room. So if I met me, faggy ole me, I would fight me. But then, maybe hate sex after? No point in completely closing the door…
I have some very smart friends who still say “your” instead of “you’re”. At some point, that’s just laziness, right? I used to mispronounce GIF, but then I learned it’s a soft G, and I slowly trained myself to say it the right way. I declare this the smart person’s onus. I know it’s nothing new – a million internets have ranted about there/they’re/their/its/it’s/your/you’re/too/two/to confusion – but it’s still disheartening when you see the error come from someone who should know better. It’s like finding out your favorite celebrity is a Scientologist. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it’s still a major disappointment.
Sorry this post is a little shorter than my two previous entries. I’m smack dab in the middle of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. I’m the Staff Lighting Designer, and I’m also involved with 8 productions. One of them is a play I wrote called NO HOMO, which I am shamelessly plugging here on this very blog. If you like my writing, you’ll definitely like my writing, so come check it out. Use code BRANDON on the ticketing website for a discount.
Next time I might talk about suicide. But also I have a rant about reality TV, so we’ll see which way the coin lands.
*I’m relatively certain the DSM nixed Asperger’s a year or two ago and instead created a simpler autism spectrum, upon which those diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome would fall on the lower end. Also, good for you for following the splat!