The word "inappropriate" seems to have hounded me all of my life some way or other. Back in the seventies my long hair was permanently inappropriate. My dress sense too came in for the same criticism and my whole demeanor in fact was 'considered utterly inappropriate.'
In tandem with this was the word "unacceptable". This presumably referred to the way somebody inappropriate behaved. This pair of three syllable words were my constant companions from school through the boardrooms of business and even hounded me throughout what passed as my social life. My voiced opinions somehow always managed to be at variance with what was generally thought to be wise, or fuck-me, what was acceptable.
I must admit to having times when I thought it would be easier to just conform, disguise what I thought and utter banalities like everyone else. It wasn't as if I was trying to stand out or be different after all. That was the last thing a spotty teenager like me wanted, then or now. I had no particular desire to be a leader of any kind and still don't. I just had some pathetic instinct to say what I was actually really thinking at the time and some way or other, this seemed to strike a discordant note around me.
I'm not different though. I have the same hopes and fears we all have. I live with unfulfilled dreams and terrible worries like you do. I'm awfully normal in fact and maybe that should be concerning me instead. But those fucking twin words won't leave me alone. I used to ask myself, 'what have i done to deserve this?' I have never knowingly set out to do another wrong. I do try my best to keep the peace and am rarely grumpy or unapproachable.
So it is only in my latter years that I've taken out these two horrible words and dusted them off for a damned good look. My first thoughts are, inappropriate for whom? Unacceptable by whose standards? Who is it up there on what throne that is deciding this? Which set of whose ideals do I not conform to? And critically for me, just why the fuck would I want to be acceptable to or appropriate for those people?
I think by now you know the kind of people who love to use those two words. I think their use of them is a defense of the indefensible or a disguise for an infertile mind. They'll harangue you about standards to aspire to and maintain and what I've come to know about this is that all of it is designed to control and neuter you. My thesis therefore is that you are unacceptable or inappropriate, (and probably both), if you cannot be easily led and controlled.
So I wear my unacceptable inappropriateness as a badge of honor now because years of putting up with nagging and exclusion has granted me the right to do so. Those of you who know me will know that I regularly appear on radio and television in the defense of smokers and make no apology to any of you for it either. I try to be the voice of reason and tolerance in these debates and I am in return, abused by commentators and adversaries for being inappropriate and unacceptable.
Would a two-finger salute be acceptable and appropriate in such circumstances? The old horse-laugh and a Harvey-Smith?