I'm Quite Eccentric Within Accepted Societal NormsCommentary • people • Opinion • human interest • culture • self-improvement • ISSUE 43•44 • Oct 31, 2007 By Martin Grossman Last week, I was feeling a little, but not excessively, crazy. I'd fallen into a boring routine and it was time to shake things up. So you know what I did? I got out this loud Hawaiian shirt and wore it to work. Work, of all places! You should have seen the look on my coworkers' faces when I strolled through the door in that outlandish shirt and also brought bagels for everyone. They probably thought the boss was going to call me on the carpet for that kind of restrained zaniness, but I had the foresight to wear a tie over the shirt, making the whole wacky display well within dress code.That's me in a nutshell. I've got an unconventional personality that just loves to push the limits of what society's comfortable with, but inevitably stays safely within those limits.I'm the kind of guy you have to watch out for, because at any time I'm likely to do something barely predictable. You know those shoes that have the wheels in them? They're like skates, but there's only one wheel? Well, I saw them in the store the other day, and I almost got a pair. Me! A full-grown adult. Think of how funny that would have been, had I bought them, to look up and see me go gliding by!Of course, at the end of the day, there's decorum to keep in mind. I may confuse, but I will never offend. Just try to stop me!To tell you the truth, I wouldn't even know how to be boring if I tried. I guess I was just born to be sensibly unconventional! If you don't believe me, take a look at my sixth-grade class picture. I'm the one all the way in the back, wearing glasses. The joke's on them, though, because I don't even wear glasses. Never have! That's just classic Martin. Ruffling feathers just enough so they can be smoothed back into place with minimal effort.I've never been the kind of guy to blend into the background. When I walk down the street, I'm always whistling a happy tune just loud enough not to annoy my fellow pedestrians. And even though I'd stop immediately if anyone around me looked annoyed, doing that sort of slightly unusual thing is what I'm famous for. It's like a pin I saw in a store once: "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." And although I wouldn't classify myself as "weird" per se, because I think that word has some unflattering negative connotations, I'm certainly 15 to 20 percent odder than your average person. Anyone who's seen my garden decorations could tell you that!I don't like to play by all of the rules, but I do most of the time just to be safe.People are always telling me "Martin, you are just barely on the edge." I laugh and reply "Your what hurts?" That really takes them off-guard, but not to the point of discomfort. Offbeat? You betcha. Not off the wall, you know, but definitely a little out there.Most guys my age go through each day trying to avoid rocking the boat, but not me. I live to make people look up for a brief second until they decide that I am in no way threatening, and then go back to whatever they were doing. I'm kooky without being totally off-putting. Like a modern-day Marty Allen.You know where I really shine? Filling out the memo part of a check. Like, I might be paying my gas bill, but in the memo I'll write "Meatballs." I wish I could see the expression on the face of whoever opens up that bill! Of course, I always add an asterisk and an attached note to make sure they know I'm just kidding and don't return the check uncashed. I may be tastefully madcap, but I also have a credit rating to think of.And you better believe the envelope I send it in will have a colorful stamp featuring some pollinating animals or maybe Jimmy Stewart. Normal? That's my dad! Yes, sir. When it comes to me, you never know what you'll get next, although you can be sure you've seen it once or twice before. I swear, you'll think, "What an eccentric but reasonable guy," if you think about me at all. And that's exactly how I like it.