Suggest eccentricities for me to adopt
July 13, 2006 5:43 AM   Subscribe

In my quest to become more distinctive, I'm looking for suggestions of harmless eccentricities to adopt. Who better than the MeFi hive mind to provide them? Anecdotes of eccentric folk you've known in the past welcome.
posted by primer_dimer to Grab Bag (83 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
I had an English teacher who trained himself out of saying "um" and "er". He'd just pause until the right word came to him. Gave him very precise, clipped speech and probably made him sound smarter.
posted by Leon at 5:51 AM on July 13, 2006 [2 favorites]

oh dear, I recommend against this, only because I did it myself in my earlier years, and I wince as I think back. It's find to do something because you like to do it, another thing altogether to do for image.

But in the interests of making this a useful answer:
Smoke cigars or herbal cigarettes
Wear one colour only, wear mismatched colours, wear hats.
Drink or eat something particularly pungent, at work.
Wear a cologne designed for someone of the opposite gender, same with clothing options.
Learn Shakespeare off by heart to quote at any appropriate moment.
Become extremely knowledgable in one field eg, the life and times of hiphop artists. Share your knowledge.
Skip or dance spontaneously.
Use a walking stick.
Be immaculate.
Buy your clothes from second hand stores aiming at sticking within a decade of fashion at least a decade old.
Object to humour. Be offended relentlessly.
Be offensive. Ensure every sentence carries an expletive.
Wear a fob watch, and use it.
Read classic literature on public transport. Out loud.
Stand backward in the elevator (okay, not mine).
Take on the accent of whichever person you're speaking to(my brother does this, he doesn't know he does it).
Blame everything on someone else.

That's it. I bore myself.
posted by b33j at 5:52 AM on July 13, 2006 [5 favorites]

Damn, fine. Fine to do something. Not find.
posted by b33j at 5:53 AM on July 13, 2006

Beleg always wears his hat.
Joey always carries his accordion.
posted by XiBe at 5:53 AM on July 13, 2006

Two words: Bow Tie.
or is that one word?: Bowtie.
posted by Gungho at 5:58 AM on July 13, 2006

Make the Dwarves your only MySpace friend.
posted by tsarfan at 5:59 AM on July 13, 2006

I've got lots of eccentric friends and am somewhat of an eccentric myself. A good friend smokes a pipe, builds harpsichords, and goes to the stripclubs (sometimes with his wife) searching for models for his excellent art photography. His house is filled with all sorts of interesting things and he collects old cheap cameras, old toys, and original plastic monster models.
posted by JJ86 at 6:03 AM on July 13, 2006

Make the Mentors your second MySpace friend.
posted by NoMich at 6:09 AM on July 13, 2006

Use sundials as your sole means of telling time.
posted by mmascolino at 6:15 AM on July 13, 2006

You can't adopt eccentricities though. The people who have them don't know they have them and certainly don't think of them as eccentric. False proposition entirely. Better - ask people what you currently do they think is eccentric and do it more often (though even that somewhat violates the principle)
posted by A189Nut at 6:16 AM on July 13, 2006

I strongly recommend against this as well - I have had plenty of friends adopt this approach and all of them quickly became intolerably. Not to mention it smacks of trying too hard.
posted by trey at 6:18 AM on July 13, 2006

Do something you always secretly wanted to do, but that you thought would be too strange.

Come on, you know what it is.
posted by reklaw at 6:19 AM on July 13, 2006 [2 favorites]

Pince nez.

But really, don't do this. There's a clear difference between eccentricity and affectation.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:21 AM on July 13, 2006

Wear a tea cozy as a hat.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:22 AM on July 13, 2006

posted by craniac at 6:22 AM on July 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

A few years ago a woman from the Daily Mail phoned to inform me they were doing a piece on Sir John Betjeman and they would like me to companion him in the article, I being representative of the younger English eccentric. She wanted to know if was still doing it. Well, I don't do it, I'm merely myself, as near as dammit, without frightening the housing estates, and her question was absurd rather than fatuous, as it suggests deliberation, rather as though you woke up and decided "I'm going to be a geranium today" or "I'm going to be giant squid for the weekend" or "That's it! I'm going to be a wardrobe for the rest of.. um.. my word! Well, strap me to a tree and call me Brenda!"

I'm whatever you like, just don't expect me to join in. I do like games, though. You see, I'm not different for the sake of being different, only for the desperate sake of being myself. I can't join your gang: you'd think I was a phoney and I'd know it.

Vivian Stanshall.

I hope that helps.
posted by Grangousier at 6:22 AM on July 13, 2006 [2 favorites]

For a while in status meetings I finished my reports with " accordance with the prophecy." but it got old really fast.
posted by plinth at 6:26 AM on July 13, 2006 [3 favorites]

Pipes and bowties are the eccentric's tres cliche. Ukelele would be good if it had not be done by Tiny Tim.
posted by poppo at 6:29 AM on July 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

Another vote for "don't affect eccentricities". Having said that, my minor eccentricity is to wear a 24 hour dial watch. Amazing how often I find people trying to read the time off my wrist and failing.

You can get cheap ones, or there's the Glycine Airman if you have money.
posted by crocomancer at 6:37 AM on July 13, 2006

The idea that eccentrics don't know they're eccentrics is patently ridiculous. Sorry, A189nut, but they're odd, not idiots.

I endorse some of the above ideas of eccentricity, but none involving cross-dressing or generating odors. Being stinky isn't eccentric, it's just offensive.

The following are characteristics of historical or fictional eccentrics, so if you are striving for uniqueness you should use these ideas only for inspiriation in finding your own special weirdness.

-Carry a cricket bat with you everywhere.
-Wear all or parts of an 18-Century British Naval Officer's Uniform. Other archaic military outfits may also serve. Especially the hats.
-Insist your friends and co-workers address you and refer to you with an honorific. Bonus points if it's one you have never even aspired to actually earning. (i.e. "The Captain" "The Doctor" "The Admiral" "The Viscount" Etc.)
-Wander the streets with bees tied to your clothing with fishing line.
-Memorize Voltaire. Bonus points for being able to quote him in French.
-Wear evening dress all hours of the day. Bonus points if it's in the style of another century or culture.

Whatever you do, though, do not conflate "eccentric" and "obnoxious." Having an exhaustive collection of early ragtime wax cylinders recordings and knowing the names of artists and songs by heart is eccentric. Forcing friends and colleagues to listen to these recordings or have conversations about them is obnoxious. Wearing jodphurs, knee boots and waistcoats is eccentric. Smelling like a citizen of the previous century is obnoxious.'

Myself, I feel I distinguish myself with good humor and an uncanny knowledge of American Cinema, among other things. You should not have to try too hard.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 6:41 AM on July 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

I had a friend who decided to stop referring to himself in the first person, so he'd say stuff like "it is known" instead of "I know" It definitely made him eccentric, also incredibly annoying. I went to a school full of eccentrics, here are some things that they did. Not all of these will translate into a non-school setting.

- girl whose unvaried style consisted of closely shaved head and overalls or baggy jeans, for years
- girl who always wore undergarment type slips as outerwear
- guy who affected a richard nixon persona
- guy with the haircut that looked like mange
- girl who would sleep in odd places all over campus
- barefoot guy
- odd pets: parrots, snakes, ferrets
- bagpipe playing guy
- pipe smokers
- write words on all your clothes guy
- girl who smoked holding cigarettes between pinky and ring finger
- super-hot girl who never spoke to anyone
- guy who was always making a movie about something
- raw foodists
- guy who wrote what was wrong with everyone on his hall in essays and hung them on the bathroom mirrors
- reincarnation of Jim Morrison guy
- aggressively stupid girl with catsuit
- Dan the dirty hand man
- guy who always has a harmonica
- I never change my sweater girl

A lot of these people were interesting. However my guess is they were interesting despite their eccentricities, not because of them, though maybe they wouldn't have been noticed without them. In any case, affected eccentricity is often annoying but if there is something that you've wanted to do, and been too timid to do it, I'd start there.
posted by jessamyn at 6:41 AM on July 13, 2006 [3 favorites]

Take on the accent of whichever person you're speaking to(my brother does this, he doesn't know he does it).

I do this. Not intentionally, it just happens; some people think it's funny, and others (often Southerners or people speaking Ebonics) are annoyed or offended by it.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 6:42 AM on July 13, 2006

Wear a 90's tie with a short sleeved shirt & shorts. Ensure the socks and belt don't match your shoes.

/me looks at self: Hmmm. Yeah. So what?

Trust me, being "eccentric" isn't something anyone chooses to do, it just slowly develops. None of the multitude of things I do that get me called "odd" by everyone are things I choose to do to be odd (well, ok, maybe one or two). I do them because, well, it's what I like and what comes easy.
posted by shepd at 6:43 AM on July 13, 2006

Okay. Here's what I do. I stopped caring what people thought of my clothes, hair, humour, tastes in music, literature and art. I wear what I want (unless of course there's a good reason not to), say what I want (without breaking my own personal rules of etiquette) and in this tiny country town, I guess it might pass for eccentricity. I think they probably use other, not quite as nice, words too.
posted by b33j at 6:48 AM on July 13, 2006 [2 favorites]

There's a clear difference between eccentricity and affectation.


But if you must, how about becoming Super-Polite Man? SPM holds open doors for people, engages the wait staff like human beings, writes thank-you notes, smiles and looks people in the eye when shaking hands or saying hello, and always says please and thank you. People really notice this sort of thing, just as much as they do someone wearing an ascot.

Here is a list of good rules towards becoming SPM, written by another young man looking to become distinctive.
posted by LarryC at 6:55 AM on July 13, 2006 [3 favorites]

True eccentrics are born not made. They have characteristics or habits that evolve over time into what others would call eccentricities.

Doing odd things and having unusual habits does not an eccentric make. For 9 years I would only enter the far right of 4 revolving doors into my office building. I have waited on a line to do so when the other doors were free to use. I refuse to hold my hockey stick with the butt end on the ground as I do not want any of the goals to leak out. I have been known to chew on raw noodles in public places.

None of these make me eccentric. Odd maybe, but not eccentric.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:59 AM on July 13, 2006

Wear a Havana.
Drop words such as eschew, orthogonal, and moiety into conversation. Please, however, only do this if you know exactly what they mean and only if there's no other common word that would mean exactly what you're trying to say.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 7:00 AM on July 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

Ohherwise you may as well be wearing a cape....
posted by Mr. Gunn at 7:02 AM on July 13, 2006

reklaw's suggestion is the only viable one. Eccentricity is not pure artifice.
posted by adamrice at 7:03 AM on July 13, 2006

- super-hot girl who never spoke to anyone

I don't think that counts as an eccentricity.
posted by antifuse at 7:05 AM on July 13, 2006

I agree, don't do it. But because this is kinda fun to think about...

Watch a few Seinfeld episodes, if you're into that sort of thing. Be a close talker or a high talker, refer to yourself in third person ("George is getting upset!"), insist that people call you Maestro, wear puffy shirts, ... (Oh, here's a bunch of them. Unfortunately, they're mostly irritating.)

Or, for that matter, watch other good tv shows and read good books for more ideas.
posted by booth at 7:09 AM on July 13, 2006

no one has yet suggested wearing a monocle?

seriously, your best option is to take some regular characteristic/tendency you already have and maximize it - ala david byrne's big suit.
posted by kelegraph at 7:11 AM on July 13, 2006

I wear the same thing to work every Thursday. I have a legitimate reason, but it could be seen as an eccentricity by others.
posted by Lucinda at 7:12 AM on July 13, 2006

posted by docgonzo at 7:13 AM on July 13, 2006

But if you must, how about becoming Super-Polite Man? SPM holds open doors for people, engages the wait staff like human beings, writes thank-you notes, smiles and looks people in the eye when shaking hands or saying hello, and always says please and thank you.

You mean, Canadian?

However, I'm nthing the suggestion above--doing this sort of thing on purpose is affectation, not eccentricity. You gotta let that weird shit develop naturally.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:15 AM on July 13, 2006

There was a guy at my work who was beyond eccentric and we eventually had to let him go. But back when we still thought he was just eccentric, he worked around computers but refused to use a mouse, ever, and for no apparent reason, so he was constantly asking what the keyboard shortcuts were for the various applications we were using.
posted by p3t3 at 7:19 AM on July 13, 2006

Read “The Watchful Poker Chip of H. Matisse” by Ray Bradbury. Not because reading it will make you eccentric, but because it explores the bizarre transfigurations of a man who uses a series of unusual prosthetics to remain in the center of attention.

Or be that kid that only ever wears bowling shoes.
posted by justkevin at 7:20 AM on July 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

There's a fine line between idiosyncracies and truly being eccentric.
posted by IndigoRain at 7:34 AM on July 13, 2006

Do the eccentricities have to be noticable by others? I think the best eccentric things are traits like what you find attractive in the opposite/same sex.

Me? I love a girl whose name has a suitable anagram.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 7:41 AM on July 13, 2006 [2 favorites]

In Mallrats, Brodie Brue carries around a dixie cup to ask for "coke, no ice" (for free) at the food court. Drink exclusively from a dixie cup.
posted by mattbucher at 7:46 AM on July 13, 2006

There are differences between being eccentric and being weird. Mostly age and money so if you're not old and rich you should pretty much drop this as your goal. Instead of being "the guy who was laways making a film about something" why not just make a film about something if that's what you're into? Why waste energy faking something when you can just do it?

However, to let you in on a secret- the new cool, offbeat hobby (post-knitting) is birding. Find your local Audubon Club and give it a try, you'll be cutting edge.
posted by fshgrl at 7:53 AM on July 13, 2006

Read Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Don't try to become more distinctive; try to become more yourself.
posted by junkbox at 8:00 AM on July 13, 2006

Pee into a water bottle, refrigerate it, and drink it the next day.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 8:11 AM on July 13, 2006

Let your personality follow from your principles. If you became Super-Polite Man just to be different, it would soon show as an affectation because it wouldn't really be consistent with the rest of your personality. However, if (for example) you made it your personal mission in life to make other people more relaxed and happy through the subtle and stalwart promotion of thoughtful etiquette, and expressed that mission through many of your actions and words, that would be inspiring. And you'd certainly be eccentric enough.

Think about what's really important to you and let your life express that -- while remaining open to new ideas -- and you'll be amazing.

Truly unique, memorable, likable people do, I think, have a solid base set of principles -- and then the courage to express them through their actions, without worrying unduly about whether other people find them remarkable. In fact, they often probably wish other people didn't find their actions remarkable -- wouldn't you wish everyone could just be polite?

I do understand wanting to be unique; I spent a good chunk of my younger years labeled a non-conformist, and I got some comfort from that. But "trying too hard" is something that people notice and dislike; you wouldn't think so, but it's true.

Why do they dislike it? I'm not 100% sure, but I think part of the reason may be that they see all the energy that's put into "being different" and wish it were put into working on all the thousand difficult problems people always seem to face: hunger, education inequalities, cross-cultural tensions... That's not to say that having fun and being fun aren't valuable unto themselves, but when it's a main focus of one's personality, it can make one seem removed from the world everyone else is trying to work through. Which makes one seem a little uncaring, although of course that's not necessarily the case.
posted by amtho at 8:14 AM on July 13, 2006 [2 favorites]

People are often surprised when I ask for straight-up vodka. I would imagine that any relatively unusual drink order would stick in people's minds a little bit.

I love Leon's suggestion about not saying "um" and "er". In a similar vein you could try cultivating the ability to not blink when you particularly want people to pay attention to you.
posted by teleskiving at 8:23 AM on July 13, 2006

Hate something. Viscerally, vocally, and voluminously. Spend your every waking moment in the presence of others making loud, declaritive statements of your bitter hatred.

By the way, it's more effective if you choose to hate something that's truly innocuous, like nitrogen. It's really no fun (and certainly not that eccentric) to hate a person, a people, or a political point of view (or anyone given to excessive alliterations.)
posted by perelman at 8:23 AM on July 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

I think amtho's on to the right tack. Being distinctive and being eccentric are not the same thing. Do you want people to remember you for things like what you wear, what you listen to, and your vocabulary? Or would you rather people remember you because of who you are and the values you espouse? There's no right answer, although I would argue that in the case of the former, people aren't really remembering you; rather, they're remembering something about you, which is much more fleeting.
posted by j-dawg at 8:26 AM on July 13, 2006

Affecting an eccentricity just for the sake of it will just make you look like like a pretentious dick. Therefore you need to either fake some kind of rationale for it, either practical or ethical.

Ethical: wear only homespun / non-dyed / organic / ethically produced clothing. Use made-up genderless equivalents of him/her/his/hers/he/she to fight gender stereotyping. Grow organic vegetables and randomly hand them out to people.

Practical: there are loads of clothing options. Identical suits a la Einstein, sweatpants in every social situation, skirts in hot weather if you're a man.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:28 AM on July 13, 2006

Adding mannerisms seems affected. Subtracting 'em makes you distinctive and appreciated--or at least mysterious.
(1) Remove "umm", "uhh", mentioned above. Also, excise "right?" and other fill.
(2) Don't begin most sentences with "I". Make speech less self-serving.
(3) Prune passives. "Mistakes were made," becomes "I messed up." See E-Prime. This requires compromises with goal (2).
posted by gregoreo at 8:35 AM on July 13, 2006 [2 favorites]

Were socks that don't match. Hell, wear shoes that don't match. Then learn to walk on your hands.
posted by Rash at 8:46 AM on July 13, 2006

Learn shorthand and transcribe all conversations you have as you have them.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:48 AM on July 13, 2006 [5 favorites]

Relating to perelman's suggestion: I had a friend in college who vehemently hated condensation on glasses, windows, etc. Every time she had a cold drink, she was constantly wiping her glass down with napkins. She wouldn't pick up the glass unless the outside was totally dry.
posted by Acetylene at 8:57 AM on July 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

In junior high, I started wearing vest, suspenders and a bowler hat, carrying a silver pocket watch and carried everything in a black leather "power broker" attache case, including a red tailed boa constrictor named Rosy when I wasn't going to school.I often walked around with my pet parrot (Fred) on my shoulder. I read those huge, leather books with the gold edging and carried them with me wherever I went.

(The hallway/schoolyard/back-of-the-school-bus beatings were ceaseless until I decided "invisible" was a better fashion statement for me.)
posted by Gucky at 9:07 AM on July 13, 2006

Insist on wearing a suit in a business-casual office.

Harmless, but it gets you noticed.
posted by Imperfect at 9:19 AM on July 13, 2006

Talking about yourself in the third person is too common. Use the second person!
posted by kimota at 9:24 AM on July 13, 2006 [2 favorites]

Why do they dislike it? I'm not 100% sure, but I think part of the reason may be that they see all the energy that's put into "being different" and wish it were put into working on all the thousand difficult problems people always seem to face.

No, it's because I wish it were put into fully engaging with me when I'm talking to you (the editorial "you"), rather than focusing so much on yourself. Eccentricities adopted simply to be different, rather than developed as an organic part of your personality, mean that you're spending too much time thinking about yourself. Not in the "you should be saving the world instead!" way, just in the vain, boring, metaphorically checking-yourself-out-in-the - mirror-every-two-minutes way.
posted by occhiblu at 10:28 AM on July 13, 2006

button down shirts, vests and cravats, cravats, cravats.
posted by boo_radley at 10:35 AM on July 13, 2006

Wear a bola tie. These things are completely underrated by non-cowboys.
posted by deep_sea_diving_suit at 11:08 AM on July 13, 2006

The University here in London that I lecture at one night a week has loads; a couple of the more notable
  • One guy will only go up or down stairs sideways, scuttling like a crap. And don't ask why, because he's got his reasons, lordy mercy does he have reasons, and he's eager to educate anyone who might be the least curious
  • Another gentleman is blind and during almost every conversation he'll end up touching your face. I don't know if that's blind man protocol, but I avoid him
Great people, but I think they should get off campus more.
posted by Mutant at 11:32 AM on July 13, 2006

But if you must, how about becoming Super-Polite Man?

Don't do that. As a door-opening, thank-you-saying, giving-up-my-seat type polite person (not affected, drummed into me as a child), I can assure you that you'll become deeply saddened and angry at the reactions of most people (I've actually been told to fuck off for holding a door open for someone... unbelievable.)

The only true eccentrics I have known were completely unaffected, so you're on a hiding to nothing by asking this question and, as others have said, your best bet is to find something mildly eccentric in yourself and amplify it.

But here's some examples: one bloke I know carried small labels pre-written with the words 'art' or 'rubbish', and would take genuine glee in affiixing them to things he saw, according to a scheme only he could understand. This can get you in trouble at art gallery openings. Another painted his face and body blue every morning in a bid to 'dye his DNA'. I think that was mental illness more than eccentricity, though.

Lastly, I've been told I 'talk eccentrically' when I just obsessively collect interesting or archaic words and phrases, then use them soon after I happen upon them in order to remember them - it's probably very annoying, but at least it's expanding my vocabulary!
posted by jack_mo at 12:03 PM on July 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

One thing I'd love to be able to do, but can't because I'm chatty is to just become mysterious. Live your life as normal, but never ever ever talk about it to anyone who wasn't there. You could drop hints, like maybe you have a dog, and people are talking about their dogs. So you say "not mine", and since they're dog people, they say "ooh, you have a dog" as a prompt to get you to talk more about it. So you just turn your head to the right, close your eyes and say "Perhaps I've said too much".
posted by hoborg at 12:13 PM on July 13, 2006 [6 favorites]

I know some eccentrics, and they don't seem to have chosen eccentricity. The interesting ones are people who have gotten passionate about something, like playing the accordion, building wooden canoes, Chaucer, the history of our city and state, etc. Take a few of your interests, and become an expert. Do not share your expertise immediately. No one thinks of me as mysterious, but when they learn some of my past exploits (interesting, but not world- shaking) they are generally more interested/ impressed than if I'd started out by announcing them.

I know some other ecentrics who are eccentric on purpose, and get pretty boring. Eccentricity without a foundation in authenticity will be crass, but if it's based in an authentic passion, it will be intriguing.
posted by theora55 at 12:46 PM on July 13, 2006

The accordion thing was completely by accident; here's how it happened.
posted by AccordionGuy at 1:25 PM on July 13, 2006

I know a guy who wears a white shirt to work every day except for friday, when he wears a black shirt. And works really hard on keeping those shirts extra-white with nappy/diaper cleaning agents.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 5:09 PM on July 13, 2006

Buy a lobster (peaceful, serious creatures, who know the secrets of the sea, and don't bark) and take it walking with you.
posted by Dr.Pill at 5:34 PM on July 13, 2006 [5 favorites]

Learn shorthand and transcribe all conversations you have as you have them.

Or learn to transliterate English in Cyrillic characters (as an example - other possibilities include katakana/hiragana, Arabic, Hebrew, Dvengari, Cherokee, Hangul [Korean], Tibetan, and so on). Start with short things - labeling CDs, for instance - and progress upwards until you can write directly in that character set. A friend of mine did the first part, but I don't know if he ever got to the second part.

Less work is to use an alphabet that's based on our Latin alphabet - something like the Moon system of writing, or the simplified letters used by Palm Pilots. I took notes that way for a while, and still find that it's more legible (to me, anyway) than my usual handwriting.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 5:36 PM on July 13, 2006

I had an English teacher who trained himself out of saying "um" and "er". He'd just pause until the right word came to him. Gave him very precise, clipped speech and probably made him sound smarter

I do that, but all I get are really long pauses, so long that that people fill the gaps in for themselves. I expect it makes me sound stupider.

Depressing, really.

(Tips hat to LarryC, in respect to Politenessmen old and new.)
posted by IndigoJones at 5:38 PM on July 13, 2006

Dress as a ninteenth-century banker and take up contact juggling.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:26 PM on July 13, 2006

Watch "Grey Gardens" and imitate their behavior.
posted by vronsky at 7:38 PM on July 13, 2006

(I've actually been told to fuck off for holding a door open for someone... unbelievable.)

This can be fuckoffable. Holding a door for another occupies a spectrum - it can be a discreet courtesy or it can be outlandish and brash. In the latter case it is often annoying as hell.
posted by megatherium at 8:34 PM on July 13, 2006

For inspiration you must read (assuming you already haven't), Against Nature (A Rebours), by Joris-Karl Huysmans. First published in 1884, it profoundly influenced Oscar Wilde, who felt it the strangest book he had ever read.

Also, I'd suggest reading up on Emperor Norton (1818-1890), the first Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico. Much loved during his day, he paid bills with his own currency, the papers printed his decrees, and his funeral was attended by some 10-30 thousand.
posted by treepour at 9:35 PM on July 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

There's a customer at the video store I work at who snags a piece of tape off the dispenser every time, and loudly keeps sticking it between his fingers. He even calls himself "The Tape Guy."

Another guy Never Moves His Head, even when walking and talking to you. It is infinitely more scary than the tape guy.
posted by spatula at 9:57 PM on July 13, 2006

Develop an internally consistent but fundamentally flawed perspective on the universe and the interactions of all the animate and inanimate things in it. No, not the one that most people share already. Then, do what seems natural. Eccentric behavior is what comes out when you believe something that other people don't believe, and act on it as though it were obvious.

The guy who wears the same sweater everyday thinks that everybody else is crazy for needing so many different sweaters. The lady who washes her faces in the drinking fountain thinks you're a sucker because you walk around with a dirty face all the time. And so on.
posted by Hildago at 8:14 AM on July 14, 2006

43Folders chimes in.
posted by ibmcginty at 12:05 PM on July 14, 2006

-Learn how to cook. Better yet, learn how to bake. Now bake something at least once a week and give it away.
-Send thank you cards after receiving gifts.
-Give gifts to children of people instead of the people directly.
-Send flowers.
Offer books.
-Learn how to polish shoes, and offer to polish the shoes of others in your office (at least once).
-Propose having a garage sale in your office, or your office kitchen during lunch hour.
-Learn some great text inside out, something worldly that you can quote regularly.

For example. you could easily become eccentric and eclectic by simply understanding and following all the tenements to the lyrics of Gilbert & Sullivan's I am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General. Do it!
posted by furtive at 7:35 PM on July 17, 2006

Hey, you could learn to read and write in ROT-13. It couldn't be that hard (I worked on it for a while). Anyone peering over your shoulder will be confused, think of what a crossword would look like!
posted by tomble at 2:16 AM on July 18, 2006

Eat sardines.

Turn every remotely related conversation into a diatribe against the Jews.

(Or the Uzbeks.)

On Tuesday afternoons, speak only in iambic pentameter.

Learn about nutrition, and share that information in a helpful manner with those who might want to hear it.

Wear button-fly jeans.

Try to love your life, love those around you, and show them you love them, more each day.

Be gay.

Without ever stating this goal out loud to anyone, try to be known among friends & acquaintances as a very generous person. Not as "the most generous person" they know-- just a very generous person.

On Thursday afternoons, speak only in limericks.

Begin every third sentence you say with "oh my god"; alternatively (or in addition), end every third sentence you say with "ooh la la!"
posted by ibmcginty at 5:48 AM on July 18, 2006

Ride a bicycle everywhere, in all weather.
posted by fixedgear at 9:41 AM on July 19, 2006

Buy a lobster (peaceful, serious creatures, who know the secrets of the sea, and don't bark) and take it walking with you.

don't forget to buy a blue ribbon. ;)
posted by ifjuly at 4:01 PM on July 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

Give up electronics. No digital watch. (No watch at all would be better, but if you have to carry one, make it a spring-driven watch and alarm clock.) No mobile phone. Nothing with earphones. You'll may need to keep your computer, but limit it to that and keep it at home. Hide or sell your television and stereo. These devices are vices.

Carry a book, a paper notebook, a paper address book, stationery, a pen, and stamps. Write frequent letters and cards to people instead of calling to chat with them. Always make your return address clear and hope they write back. Make it known that you are home at certain hours to receive visitors, and that you frequent a certain cafe, where you can be found reading a newspaper or talking with acquaintances or keeping up with your correspondence.

For the musical entertainment of visitors, play (non-electronic) instruments. For parties, encourage friends to play instruments and sing songs. Get some sheet music of popular songs people might sing or dance along to. If you can, always keep acoustic instruments in your home -- a guitar, a piano, and maybe bongos or other small percussion instruments for the trained or untrained to bang along on. Encourage friends to brings their acoustic instruments to parties, perhaps for regular sessions -- you will become good at playing together, will enjoy it immensely, and will be fantastic entertainment to other visitors. No recording -- just learn and remember.

Picnic with friends. Ask them to make it an uninterrupted no-phone, no-plastic event. All phones left home or at least off and hidden and not even buzzing. Bring no plastic and no disposable containers other than perhaps plain paper wrappers. If there are small children involved, bring a babysitter. Ask yourself how it might have been done a hundred years ago.

Collect, press, and display flowers.
posted by pracowity at 2:59 AM on July 20, 2006 [4 favorites]

Mr. Gunn writes "Ohherwise you may as well be wearing a cape...."

I so wish capes/cloaks would become cool/normal. Sigh.
posted by Mitheral at 12:52 PM on July 25, 2006

Peter, Peter, Peter. You don't need to act this way. The other kids will like you just fine. Remember when Greg moved into the attic and started trying to impress girls with hippie slang? It didn't win him any new friends. This "pork shaaps and apple shaash" gimmick of yours is contrived and silly. Now go hang on the monkey bars out back with Bobby so you can get taller.
posted by kookoobirdz at 9:18 PM on July 25, 2006

Oh man, this is a AskMeFi question I am well versed in. I've been told since I was like 5 years old that I'm eccentric.

Here is a list of my current eccentricities:

I smoke a pipe. Yes, like an old sea captain. People are apparently delighted by this, I've even been invited to dinners just to be the eccentric pipe smoking beared guy at the end of the table.

I think it terms of relational connections. Thus I see the connections between things that most people don't. This leads to alot of conversations being interrupted with: "-How- do you know that?"

I climb things. Everything. If I dig my fingers into any part of it, any crack on it, I'll climb it. I think all kids go through the "I think I'll climb that!" stage... I just never grew out of it. I climb trees, statues, buildings, everything. I'm a human monkey.

I carry a mountain-man style "possible" bag filled with a whole range of eccentric goodness... a copy of the constitution, a mini-survival kit, depending on the day some spare ammo (never know how rough your day just might be!), food, water, a map, flashlight, and all sorts of other randomness.

I sign all my credit card reciepts with totally random things like "Ra the Sun God" or "Johny Walker" or "I like cheese!"

My historical eccentricities:

I used to have four ferrets which I had trained to a fairly high degree for ferrets. They could frequently (although not perfectly) retrieve things for me, they rode around on my shoulder or in the hood/collar of my coat. They were incredibly friendly and I usually had one of them with me at all times.

Throughout most of highschool I had a car-length overcoat that weighed around 40 pounds. It had -everything- in it. At one point it had everything from a grappling hook with rope to a portable soldering iron and everything in between like tylenol and throwing knives. My friends always teased me about it, but I was the first person they asked for when they needed help fixing stuff. With that coat we fixed everything from stereos to car engines.

I used to walk around everywhere with an ebony cane that had a massive bronze cobra head. Not only was it a weird cane, it was a sword cane.

From like 14-23 I always wore slacks and a dress shirt. Unless I was deep woods backpacking or painting a house... always slacks and a dress shirt (unless being more dressed up was called for.)

Prior to 14... I tended to be so formal in my dress and speaking that my classmates called me "Mr. President."

Hopefully that'll get you started! :)
posted by JFitzpatrick at 4:49 PM on September 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

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