Friday, March 8, 2013

Coming Out

Whoa, it's been almost 6 months since my last blog post! Sorry about that! They will be more regular from now on, promise!

Today I want to talk about coming out of the closet, and I don't mean as gay: I'm not gay and there is already plenty published on that subject. No, instead I want to talk about coming out about the "thoughts" that I had growing up that I felt were somehow wrong; these thoughts were generally related to my obsessions. In fact, they were usually my obsessions themselves that I felt were wrong. My parents didn't openly question the obsessions I tended to have with movies and television shows until I hit adolescence, but long before that I was aware that such persistent and constant thoughts about one thing were not "normal."

For example, when I first saw Back to the Future and Back to the Future Part II at age 9, I was hooked immediately. Obsessed. Couldn't get my mind off the movies. The day after seeing them, I just wanted to talk about them non-stop. But because I was so aware of how strong and unrelenting this desire was to intensely revisit these movies the day after seeing them-- and how odd such a desire was-- I barely spoke two words about them. 

As another example, when I first saw The Addams Family movie at age 11 I became obsessed with it, much in the same way I was with the BTTF movies. Uncle Fester was my favorite character (Doc Brown was my favorite in the BTTF movies; I think Christopher Lloyd's frenetic characters just appealed to me!). On a children's radio show that I was listening to, a girl who called in mentioned in passing that she did not like The Addams Family. (For those of you not familiar with the plot, please read this article in Wikipedia before continuing reading the blog entry). The girl stated that the Uncle Fester that was in the movie turned out to be an impostor. Instead of laughing it off, I obsessed over this for several months until my older cousin cleared it up for me. I think it bothered me because I felt that the "parallel universe" in which my obsessions lived was at least in my control, but this girl's statement threatened that control. The idea of my being that grossly wrong in my comprehension of the movie was unacceptable. 

My next obsession, from ages 12-14, was the Cold War comedy The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming! I always greatly enjoyed the background music composed for the film, particularly the scene in which the Russians first come ashore. Of course, the soundtrack was not available. One day, when I was 13, I set up a tapedeck next to the television to record when scenes with the soundtrack came on. I did this one day when I was home alone. Why? Even though my parents wouldn't have given it a second thought, I thought it was weird that I wanted the music from a film so obscure to my generation. Let's not forget the fact that I knew that being obsessed with this movie was bizarre. Whenever I listened to the music, I did so on my Walkman so my parents wouldn't hear it and ask what it was. 

If I, as the person experiencing them, had a hard time accepting these weird thoughts as "normal," why in the world should I have confided in my parents about them? Eventually I did come out of the closet, but very slowly. At age 14, I began talking to my Dad a little about my obsession with The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!, but I didn't talk to him about recording the music. At age 16, I began speaking to my parents (usually through tears) about my obsessions in general and how "wrong" I felt they were. They tried to assure me that nothing was wrong but I knew that they were just trying to make me feel better. They had no idea what obsession meant, at least as I defined it.

When did I finally come out about my obsession over Uncle Fester's authenticity? At age 18, nearly SEVEN YEARS after the incident occurred. I was THAT embarrassed about it! Keep in mind how long seven years is when you were a kid. In tears, I confessed to my dad about how long this weird concern had, well, festered inside me and how I knew that it was "abnormal." My dad asked me, "Why didn't you just ask us if it was the real Uncle Fester or not?" Why? Let's put it this way: My parents were concerned about my obsessions in general. They-- especially my mother-- would have been freaked out had I asked them 3 months or so after seeing The Addams Family whether or not it was the real Uncle Fester. And I'm not being paranoid. Even as a kid, I was fully aware that they thought there was something psychologically wrong with me. Years later, Dad may have thought that my asking the question was a non-issue, but I guarantee in the context of my 11-year-old self he would have wondered why I needed to ask that question.

Well, that's coming out, Aspie style. I suspect these stories are more common than one would think. Anybody who has similar anecdotes, please tell them!

P.S. I have since obtained from eBay a tape of the soundtrack from The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming! My parents are not only aware that I have it but that I also imported it into my computer so I can listen to it on my iPod.

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