Where Have All the Normal People Gone?

Where Have All the Normal People Gone?
Take a good look at the people around you, anytime, anyplace. Include those that make the news, your neighbors, your friends, and those you may not care for. Include those you see at Wal-Mart and include your family too – yes, especially your family.

How many of these people would you consider to be normal? Is it just me, or do you have some troubles finding normalcy in people today?

It wasn’t always this way. I remember in my early elementary years that everyone seemed to be a normal, happy person. Sure, Ned needed to pay better attention to cleaning his ears before school each morning, but he still was an okay guy.

And then there was Mary Jane. I lacked all confidence to speak to her because she was so popular, but still she was a normal, albeit intelligent girl.

Mr. Perdew was a friendly guy my parents knew from church. He had a red, shiny nose with matching red cheeks, but I still considered him to be a normal guy.

I cannot forget my aunts. Yes, the perfume worn by all 17 of them was a little over-powering. A hug and kiss on the cheek from any of them could stop an inhalation better than any form of asphyxiation. But, I considered all aunts, everywhere, to be pretty much the same. Even Aunt Bee who smoked had a likeable, pleasant personality. I could over-look her tobacco aroma in the same manner I did with my dad’s Cutty Pipe stained teeth.

I would even go as far as to include Mrs. Brickman, my first grade teacher. Her hands displayed the same dark spots and wrinkles common on my grandma’s hands. And you would become aware of her presence not by sight or sound, but by her breath. Then again, I just described most of my teachers through elementary school. Basically, they may have been a little different compared to each other, but they were all normal people.

Later on, in my adolescent years, my impressions of people really didn’t change much. I remember though that mom and dad’s comments about others got me thinking. Gossip-filled whispers concerning a young un-wed woman being pregnant is one such memory. I still thought the lady, (the subject of their conversation), was normal, but I could sense that mom and dad did not.

Occasional visits from distant family members on my mom’s side also got me thinking. I began to realize that some of my dad’s comments about these people adjusted my reasoning, to the point where dad didn’t think they were normal at all. Perhaps the wet diaper stains left behind on my parent’s hard wood floors in their bedroom had something to do with that. Or maybe it was the time at dinner when the wife said to her husband about the youngest of their four children. “Look Norman, the baby has mashed potatoes in her hair again.”

Still stuck in my memory bank was the fact that neither parent so much as moved toward the little spud head. My mom was the only one to come to her aid, and she was seated further away from the little one than anyone else.

Is it possible that this visiting family was not normal? After their departure, the non-whisper-like conversation between my parents confirmed all doubts.

Fast forward to today, I’ve discovered some very difficult questions to answer honestly. “Is my wife normal?” “Are my own kids normal?” “Is that guy I see in the mirror every morning normal?”

If I am going to be sincere with my three answers, I’d have to say “No – no way in hell.” I won’t venture any further into my family and acquaintances. I think you get my drift.

Well, what happened to the normal people we knew in our youth? Is it that they lost normalcy with age?

Now, my grandkids are pretty much all normal. But without a doubt the youngest is the most normal and she’s less than two months old.

Having gone full-circle, we’re left with an intriguing set of queries.

“Do we all become less normal with age?” And, if so, Why?

Or, “is it more likely, no one was ever normal to begin with?” And, if so, why didn’t we realize this earlier in our lifetime?

I doubt I could give a valid answer or reason to any of the last few questions. If I could, I may pass anyway. I have a much more important issue to address. I have to hide this article from my wife and the rest of my family members.

My Roots - The Potchaks - circa 1927

My Roots - The Potchaks - circa 1927
From Left: Son, Steve - Dad, Frank - Mom, Anastasia (Makar) - Sons; John, Mike, Frank, Chuck (Author's Dad) - Twins, Pete & Mary - Daughter, Catherine. Photo taken in Wilmore, PA