(posted by Mike, in response to the next post down)
Oh, how this resonates for me.
At boarding school, my wit and my music collection kept me linked to the cool kids – but I was ultimately too weird to fit in with them, and they had ways of letting me know this.
Meanwhile, the uncool kids – though generally much easier to rub along with – were also well aware of my remaining toe-hold in the cool camp, and so kept themselves huddled away at a certain protective distance, which could never quite be breached.
I started off aspiring to be with the cool kids, and so held the uncool kids somewhat at bay – partly for fear of being tainted by association. Then I went seriously weird for a year or so, and didn’t really associate with anybody at all. Eventually, by the sixth form, when everyone was starting to loosen up and not be so goddammed heirarchical all the time, I fell in with a comfortable mixture of the less cool-obsessed, more interesting cool kids, and the less uncool-beyond-redemption, more interesting uncool kids.
Nevertheless, this experience did leave me with a residual – not to say somewhat resentful – view of the world as being essentially heirarchical in nature. Which in turn brought out a fairly strong egalitarian streak in me. Both traits remain in me to this day, in the sort of paradoxical co-existence which is so typical of my emotional make-up.
I did stop chewing my fingernails, though. Well, they all build in your stomach until you can’t swallow any more, and then you DIE.