This is a re-tread from my old blog: Seriously? I am re-posting it here to introduce the concept of nut-jobs, in preparation for Frickin’ Friday!
The following post was written during my first (and last) abysmal attempt at the April A – Z Blogging Challenge in… a couple of years ago. My embarrassing failure to complete that challenge prompted my utter refusal to participate in that same challenge last year… as each of my April posts clearly states.
Without further obnoxious prattle:
Everybody I know thinks he or she is deranged, to some degree. Feel free to substitute insane, crazy, or any other glib mental affliction; I’m just using deranged ’cause I need a ‘D’ word. People brag about their lack of mental facilities as though it’s a really cool accomplishment. I think, though, that when most people use the word “deranged”, especially when applied to themselves, what they really mean is “stupid”.
“Did Tequila shots ’til seven a.m. in the morning, man. Then I tried to swim to Japan… dude, I was totally deranged!”
That may be a bad example, since after a night of Tequila shots, this hypothetical friend may have actually been deranged, as well as stupid. What is it, though, that makes people want to be thought of as deranged, as “not quite right”? There’s the obvious advantage that being mentally unstable is way cooler than being outright stoopid. Finding a way to gain the label, “deranged” for yourself, though, appears to be a strong defense mechanism.
For the longest time, Vlad of Wallachia had an arch enemy who terrorized the entire region. Sergei Romaninov operated with impunity because people knew what would happen if they crossed him. Then Vlad started impaling people and, well how often do you hear the legend of Sergei of the Paper Cuts any more? Vlad convinced everyone around him that he was more deranged even than Sergei. And it didn’t hurt Vlad’s cred that he actually was well and truly sick.
Taking it down a notch, you hear the same folksy wisdom from convicts: “Find the biggest, baddest guy, then go after him like you’re deranged.” Doing so serves two purposes. First, it sends a powerful message: “Look out! I’m a craaazy motherfucker, and I’m not afraid to bleed all over you.” Secondly, it will get you a couple of weeks relaxation in the prison hospital, right off the bat!
Even closer to home, almost everybody remembers a kid in school who was so painfully nerdy that he ended up doing horrible things to himself because at least then he had more control than when others did terrible things. That tactic is really, genetically, the same thing as attacking the big guy in prison. It says, “You aren’t going to do anything bad to me that I’m not willing to do to myself; why bother with me?” By the way… those kids are the ones who have grown up to win big bucks on Survivor.
For my own part, I once pissed-off a bully in high school, cleverly forced him to punch me in the side of the head, then stood and glared at him. He was eventually suspended for something. No one ever bothered me again. Which of us was more deranged?
Society has changed since the time of Vlad the Impaler. People are far more concerned with public health, and dead bodies strewn along the streets are simply not tolerated, no matter how much of a badass you are. These days acting out to highlight your crazy mad, uh, crazy mad skillz really just labels you as needy, since all the legit loonies have taken their dementia on the down-low. Did Ted Bundy festoon his car with scalps? Nuh-uh. No… I’ve found the best way to intimidate people any more is to be really, really quiet. Didn’t hurt, of course, that for the longest time I fit the FBI’s serial killer profile exactly.