When I was a youngster I read everything I could… including signs. I was particularly intrigued by a sign I saw on buildings in some Iowa towns: “Odd Fellows Hall.”
I had heard my parents say of someone a bit different, “He’s really odd.” In my limited understanding of the world around me I wondered why odd people would have their own hall?
As I gained greater understanding of the world around me I came to realize that those odd fellows were actually a fraternal organization known as the Independent Order of Odd Fellows or I.O.O.F for short. Like the Moose and Elks Lodges and Free Masonry, the I.O.O.F is a secret society attempting to do good in our world.
Knowledge of the I.O.O.F and understanding the dictionary definition of the term odd (“different from what is usual or expected”) set me straight.
Still curious as to why a club or organization would take on the name of Odd Fellows, I did some research and learned the origin of the name is unclear. One theory: it was intended that Odd Fellows would be so generous and kind to those in need that society would consider them odd.
Though I have never been a member of the I.O.O.F, I wasn’t very old when I came to understand that I was odd. Yes, personally odd.
Unlike many of my friends, I have little interest in sports. In the half century of Super Bowls, I’ve only watched three or four.
I have tried hunting and fishing and don’t enjoy either. Golfing looked fun so I bought clubs and took lessons. Though I enjoyed being outdoors with friends, the game was more exasperating than fun. When back problems kept me out of the game for a while, I sort of felt relieved and I haven’t golfed since.
My favorite part of a library is the reference section where I can find all sorts of interesting and, may I say, odd, facts.
Though many folks hate traffic roundabouts (aka: traffic circles and rotaries) I don’t. I find them safe and efficient.
While I love people and enjoy meeting new individuals, I deplore crowds and do not enjoy big parties and other social events. Some people find that odd.
People close to me will gladly provide details of my oddness.
I began acknowledging my oddness early on and, in fact, began to embrace it and in doing so realized that we are all odd. Even the “coolest” folks I know have eccentricities. Each of us is considered odd by someone else.
One of my favorite jokes about oddness concerns a man named Odd. People made fun of him because of his name so he decided to keep his headstone blank when he died. Now when people pass by the burial site, they point and say, “That’s odd.”
That leads to this: my jokes are usually odd, too. People may laugh at my jokes but will then point out that the joke was weird or “stretching it.” My puns usually get groaned at. Example: “I was going to make myself a belt made out of watches but then I realized it would be a waist of time.” (The more groans the better the pun.)
We’re all at least a little odd and that what makes us all interesting. The problem with “oddness” is when it goes too far.
Case in point: when I knew him a now long-deceased relative drove an early ’50s automobile. You may recall that in those years gas caps were sometimes on the side of a car and not hidden behind a little door.
At that time you could buy a lockable gas cap to prevent the theft of gasoline from your car. The odd fellow I remember had a locking gas cap on his car and one winter night he and his wife ran out of gas on a dark country road. Alas, he discovered the locked gas cap was frozen. He had a can of gas in the trunk of his car but could not pour it into the gas tank because of the frozen gas cap.
When asked how he solved the problem the old fellow bragged that he thawed the lock by urinating on it. Now that’s odd!
Yes, we’re all a little odd in our own way. And that’s okay! General George Patton put it this way: “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”
Arvid Huisman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.