You’ve got to find your clan.
You’ve got to find your people. It’s one of the great drives of any person, apparently: the need to reach outside of myself and try to touch another person and feel like I belong to something bigger than myself.
But how do you know which people are yours? It’s not an easy question.
A lot of people resort to simple things. Things like, “we like the same thing.”
Which is dangerous. Because you may end up getting into a scene that’s got as some of its unifying tenets some principles with which you don’t necessarily agree. You may, for instance, decide that you’re really into chicken wings. You like food that’s more of a puzzle than a snack and more of a choking hazard than a puzzle. You like things that are just incidental vessels for various sauces. The whole construct of chicken wings arrived at the actual use of actual chicken’s wings arbitrarily, I think. I don’t expect that these people tested out a variety of annoyingly insubstantial and excessively tricky foods and arrived on the one with the least noticeable amount of nutritional value or actual edible substance because of some careful vetting process.
They didn’t actually seek out something like chicken wings to be the vessels for the main event.
Really, buffalo sauce or any of the other sauces could be slathered on anything. But for a twist of fate that meant that above all other parts of the chicken the wings occupy the perfect intersection of undesirable and not actually icky, you could just as easily be a buffalo broccoli eater. You could as likely be an aficionado of honey mustard croutons, but for an unexpected left in the drunken careening of the historical mustang. If not for a random jerk to the side in the erratic path of the historical atom, you might have been a delighter in barbecue slathered cod fillets.
You are a lover of chicken wings.
Which feels harmless.
You start going to all the rallies. Trying all the kinds of wings. Educating yourself in the recipes and history and the ins and the outs of the proper etiquette and refinement of the consumption of these pieces of chicken offal hidden behind gallons of sauce in every shade of orange imaginable.
You join the culture and have a good time with like minded individuals.
But before you can quite explain the tasteless facepaint and the irrational anger, you discover that you have inched your way sideways into being a slavering fan of the Oakland Raiders.
You never meant to get in that deep. You just wanted to share a few chicken wings and meet some other people who had similar tastes to you. You just wanted to feel like you had found your people, and feel included in a culture that made you feel whole. But one thing led to another, and now you have become a football bigot.
Now imagine the same scenario but swap out the chicken wings for anything you like. Movies about guns. Jokes about rape. Jews. Whatever strikes your fancy.
I admit that I had an experience with this myself.
I found myself interested in the history of witchcraft. Just on the weekends, though. I thought it was interesting to look into the practices of witches throughout the ages.
I would talk to people about it, you know? It made me feel included to do it. Like I had found my thing, and because I had a community that also liked it I felt affirmed in myself for liking it, you know?
I did it just for practicality, you know, but when you’re in that culture it becomes a good idea to wear dark colors. You’re dealing with the intestines of things pretty frequently, you know? And sometimes in the middle of stirring up a concoction to increase virility — for my buddy, not for me — you have a need to run down the block to the 7-Eleven for some Gatorade or something. So you’re seen in public in these black clothes.
I don’t know quite when it started happening. I mean, I started listening to the music that went with the culture — you know, some 69 Eyes and some old Alice Cooper and stuff. And I started wearing boots, because it was practical. I started frequenting clubs in basements, admiring spiders and things like that. And I don’t know when it happened, but I guess it turned out that the crowd I had developed about the witchcraft was also really into being goths.
Which was not the intent from the beginning at all.
So you’ve got to find your clan — your own people. You need to be careful, though, in case you accidentally end up like me: starting out investigating the eldritch ways of the black arts and inadvertently wind up with a bunch of goth friends.