Humor or Beauty? Or Maybe Just Awkward and Peculiar - A Guest Post from Tom Lagasse

Hello, friends! Over the next few weeks, I am away for my wedding and honeymoon, so I've invited some of my favorite writers to keep you entertained in my absence! Enjoy!! 

When Emelie asked if I would post on her blog while she and Fiancé Husband were on their honeymoon in Scotland (re-enacting scenes from Braveheart?  Searching for Nessie?), I asked if I should focus on humor or beauty, since I noticed a slight shift from the former to the latter after she posted about how to live with dog hair – well, that’s not quite the way I wanted to say that.   

I’m afraid I’m not qualified to offer insight on either topic.  As a pudgy, middle-aged bald guy (and that’s assuming I’m going to live past 105), I am not licensed to provide the secrets of beauty – inner or outer.   And humor?  It’s one thing to be a smart ass.  It’s a whole other thing to put something in writing with a coherent beginning, middle, and end that consistently makes a total stranger recognize herself, find the humor, and laugh, let alone to amuse Emelie’s millennial audience.

My hope is I can string together enough paragraphs to complete Emelie’s request and fulfill my requirement, which sounds like I’m approaching this more like an assignment on the Peloponnesian War than how happy I am to help my friend.

So here goes:

Having known Emelie and subscribing to her blog for about a year, I not only read what it’s like for her to be awkwardly alive and pleasantly peculiar, but I witness it several days a week at the bookstore as her co-worker.

And, I have to admit – like most, although less publicly than Emelie – I, too, consider myself awkwardly alive and pleasantly peculiar.  Perhaps this is why we get along so well.

Naturally, in trying to meet this life force, I had to ask myself - What have I done lately that was awkwardly alive or pleasantly peculiar or both?  

It’s been a little over a year since I was nearly literally (yes, literally) murdered by my cat (short version: he bit me; overnight the infection spread up my arm and traveled towards my heart; I went to the hospital and where I received a two-day stay), and the week following my release, I accidentally wiped my eyes with poison ivy covered hands (short version: I looked like I had been punched in the face by a mixed martial fighter).  And it’s been more than a couple years since I almost set the house fire:  Once by doing some electrical work I was ill qualified to do (obviously), and twice by trying to start a fire in the fireplace.  I’m now banned from both by the lovely Teresa (my version of Fiancé Husband who supervises Emelie’s use of the oven).

Sure, recently, I may have taken a Charlie’s Angels gun pose while wearing a promotional Captain Underpants cape on a bland Tuesday afternoon.  My surprise move made Emelie laugh.  The store was empty, and none of this was recorded.  You’ll have to take my word on both – except if Fran and Pat from the bookstore are reading this – then it’s a complete fabrication for the purposes of humor.

I may been more than happy to play with dinosaur hand puppets or read Dragons Love Tacos 2 to dragons, well, stuffed animals, at the children’s table.  And recently, Emelie and I posed for selfies in full Anthony Horowitz Magpie Murders in full Magpie regalia.  A murder of magpies?  I thought it was a murder of crows.   For the record, it’s a parliament of magpies.

However, I view these as neither awkward nor peculiar but as marketing – we’re fun people at the bookstore (just ask us) and not just complete book nerds (we may be those too) even if we’re reading Nietzsche or John Green in our off-hours.  

Otherwise, for me, I have nothing, nada, zip in my accounting for being awkwardly alive and pleasantly peculiar.  The fact that I can’t recount a single other event of being awkwardly alive or pleasantly peculiar, signals to me I need to be more courageous and keep pushing towards authenticity.

However, it’s not that I’m advising everyone be more awkwardly alive and pleasantly peculiar.   For example, I don’t think our President should be, although he seems to be not so much awkward or peculiar but just plain crazy.   There are certain places normative behavior would be greatly appreciated.

There is one beauty secret I can offer:  embrace your inner peculiarities.  There is nothing more attractive than people being utterly themselves.   However, I think a working definition would be helpful.  Being awkwardly alive and pleasantly peculiar is one thing.  Embrace that.  But when those unpleasant peculiarities like bigotry or misogyny or just plain hatred, we could all use a lot less of that from you and on behalf of the rest us, we ask you become more mainstream and vanilla.   

Working my way towards being a little more awkwardly alive and a little more pleasantly peculiar has been invigorating.  For that, I hold Emelie responsible.  I’ve learned Millennials can offer wisdom to us older folks besides simply showing us how to use the latest apps like podcasts, Angry Birds, and Pokeman Go.  

Thank you, Emelie and Fiance Husband for your help and friendship.  Best wishes on a long life together filled with all the love, awkwardness, and peculiarity you can handle!

I’m a freelance writer and work with Emelie at The Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington Depot, CT.  In July, I will have an article on climate change that will appear in Edible Nutmeg.  A short story “Beyond the Finish Line” was published by The Feminist Collective (  in March.   In January 2017, I was interviewed by Tracy Mumford for Minnesota Public Radio's segment "Ask A Bookseller."

I live in Bristol, CT.



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