How to set yourself apart all together
I was driving by a school recently just as it let out, and I was struck by the extent to which each student expressed his or her individuality. Each student, for instance, wore a black shirt of some kind. Wearing black apparently is a unique way to express your contempt for authority. It makes you look like a tough iconoclast, a rebel, an outsider ... someone who doesn't run with the herd or cave in to society's conventions.
I guessed that about 200 of these rebel iconoclasts were not running with the herd in their black anti-authority, uniquely expressive clothing. But it was hard to count because there were so many individuals gathered herdlike together expressing their individuality in black.
The other way young people seem to express their nonconformity is through tattoos. A tattoo separates them from the sheeplike masses, the drab conventionalists. Nothing shows a person's free-thinking individualism like a tattoo. And just about every young free-thinking individualist I see these days has a tattoo. It's inspiring to see independent nonconformists all together in extremely large, independent, nonconformist clumps.
You can tell just by looking at all these bohemian mavericks that they feel alienated from society and want you to know it. And one way they want you to know it is by not noticing the way they dress. The students all wore the black shirts and, in many cases, baseball caps slightly askew on their noggins and so many metal rings and pins and piercings that it looked like a fragmentation grenade had gone off in their faces.
They wore these things to set themselves apart, to tell you they were not like anyone else. And because they wanted so badly for you to understand that they were each so individually individual, you were not supposed to look at them. The ones I looked at glared back at me as if I had just ripped off their nose rings. Who am I to judge them just because they dressed differently from everyone else who was not within a 500-foot radius of where the 200 or 300 of them stood dressed pretty much exactly alike?
They hadn't caved in to the shallow demands of conformist society like I had. I had no tattoo. I had no metal shard protruding from my eyebrow. I had no cap slightly askew on my noggin. And worst of all, I was wearing a white T-shirt without the slightest bit of black on it or even dirty words written in large, block letters. I was everything they were rebelling against, a ... a ... nonindividual.
I drove by remembering the movement to make public school students wear some sort of uniform. What an outcry there was from the students. You can't tell us how to dress! We have the right to express our own individual personalities. You can't strip us of our distinctiveness and our singularity. They were right. Now they look so singular, I can't even tell them apart.
Buy Charles Memminger's hilarious new book, "Hey, Waiter, There's An Umbrella In My Drink!" at island book stores or online
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