Get Quirky!

15 year old Madeline has a life goal: to become an eccentric.

How to get there? Start by writing a letter to the two most eccentric guys she can think of, Tom and Ray! You can read Madeline’s letter right here.

Tommy’s answer? You’re only truly eccentric when you stop thinking about all the conventions about which all those other, conformists care.

Ray? He thinks you can’t strive to be eccentric… you just have to let it happen naturally. Like his brother, for example.

Eccentric as they are, this question was still a bit of a stumper for our hosts. Hear how they fumbled, then punted, Madeline’s question, right here. Ultimately, Tom and Ray decide that they’re not qualified to give advice on this topic. So, they’re turning to us to help sort it out. Help us help Maddy get quirky! What would you do? Feign a limp and a thick Romanian accent? Take a 5 minute headstand break after lunch and invite coworkers to join you? Wear a floral bonnet when at work and refer to it as your "thinking cap"? Share your ideas right here-- and thanks!

eccentricity comes with having many facets to your life. many facets to your personality. a:nd many interests. so my suggestion apply your creativity for interest in everything. try new things that will grow your understanding of yourself and people around you. live life as full as you can.

Poor = crazy Rich = Eccentric

People’s lives are incredibly eccentric, most live behind a mask in order to “fit in”. Be your true and authentic self, treat others with respect and love, don’t forget that every situation is an opportunity to learn and grow. Knowledge is power beyond measure.

Oldbodyman has it exactly. The goal is to have enough money to be eccentric. They don’t put you in the loony bin for that.

@sharkboy You are right; don’t start out by being eccentric; get rich as quick as you can legally and the “normal” way. Then you can be as eccentric as you want to be. Only Rockers are expected to be “eccentric”.

I have known folks who live on small islands off the West Coast, who wear “natural fibers”, don’t have TV, eat “natural foods”, are “off the grid”, etc. They are critical of everything modern life has to offer, but don’t reject their social security checks earned for them by the normal majority. I’ve also noticed these guys let their wives do most of the work while they are writing the “perfect novel”, or ponder the shortcomings of the world.

I also know friends and relatives who don’t listen to what the government and sociologists tell them, but follow their own common sense, eccentric or not! These folks are contented, lead less stressful lives and seldom get in debt. I hope most of the posters here fall in that category.

We love plastic grocery bags because we use them for trash bags afterwards, and use just enough that way to only have to buy Kitchen Catchers once a year.

Take up tatting. Hardly anyone knows what it is. Start making random objects, starting with a keychain fob, working up to a pair of spats, then make some kind of cover or veil to attach to your graduation cap in a few years…

There is a simple four step system to being an eccentric and interesting person early in life:

  1. find a Hobby, and embrace it completely
  2. find something interesting that you like, and start collecting it
  3. Whenever you get bored with your hobby or collection, find a new one
  4. Get a library card and prowl the non-fiction section for books on random subjects that look interesting.
    By the time you’re 25 you’ll be a fencing, knitting, carnival worker; who has a remarkable collection of novelty beer steins, model cars, and old fashioned children’s toys; who also has a disturbingly complete knowledge of 17th century romance literature and naval military design.

In your quest for notoriety, you must remember that there is a fine line between eccentric and crazy. You do not want to be considered crazy. Here are three simple steps to avoid this.

First, determine which path you may be treading by listening for key indicators… when your friends use words like “quirky”,“offbeat” and “unorthodox” when describing your behavior, you are on your way to eccentricity. If, however, they use words like “bizarre”,“wacko” and “crazy” take care that you are not pre-fitting yourself for a Bellevue blazer.

Second, accumulate a large amount of wealth. This will significantly blur the line between eccentric and crazy. I refer to the old adage 'What’s the difference between eccentric and crazy… about a million dollars."

Third, and most important, do not take the advice of people who post comments on blogs, especially those that are supported in part by Public Radio. You often find these people in coffee houses for 6 plus hours a day; feverishly typing on their laptops with caffeine stained fingers… or tending to their 8.7 cats… or worse, attempting to fix their own cars based on the recommendations of crazy old men. This advice is not to be trusted.

Madeline, I hope this helps in keeping you just to the left of loony. Oh, and listen to your mom. She will get soooo much smarter in the decade to come.

Al In Vegas (but you can call me Napoleon B.)

Madeline everyone is different which can make you eccentric by just doing normal things but do them in a different order. I hope this makes your dream easier . From peekopalcar

Becoming Eccentric! No problem.
Just do things that make sense.
Follow these 10 rules:
(in order of easiest to hardest)

  1. Keep listening to NPR!
  2. If it doesn’t rot, don’t throw it away. Tidiness is over-rated.
  3. Stylish hair and nails are the bain of the vain. Wear men’s clothing that costs 30% less than women’s and lasts 75% longer (including your jockies).
  4. Keep up with the mentality of generations behind you (start NOW).
  5. Talk to old people whenever you need a second opinion. (Just listen, you decide what to do with the suggestion)
  6. Prepare for rejection and isolation by investing in pets.
  7. Learn how to do everything for yourself. Rotate your tires, raise chickens, build the coop, become a world class expert on Mediterranean spices and toilet fixing.
  8. Be perpetually enrolled in your local community college.
  9. Be organized and pay your bills on time.
  10. Pay attention.

I say “Make eccentrincity pay”.

Here’s and idea: When you get a traffic ticket, go to court dressed up like a homeless person. You know, wearing old sweat pants and shirts with holes in them. Not old clothes you used for wearing while you wash the car. I’m talking the old clothes you converted to use as rags to wash the car!

And let you hair and beard (if you have one) grow untrimmed for the many months between the time you got the ticket and the court date.

The judge might just take one look at you, and decide you aren’t worth he court’s time. There’s no money to be had from that homeless person! Case dismissed!

Dear Madeline,
I am 26yrs old and have been described by some to be “mildly eccentric”. Others have said im alittle crazy. I personally consider myself to be comfortable and simply enjoying the things which i love most. A collection of Pre 1990s musicals and taste for flavored pipe tobacco no doubt gives credence to that observation.
I tend to agree with your mother that being eccentric and being older are in many ways connected but not directly, because not all older people are eccentric and not all eccentric people are old. So the connection instead has to do with experiences I believe, the more you experience the more likely you are to be eccentric. As several others have already pointed out there is a fine line between eccentric and crazy which will be very difficult to navigate at your age. Also note that there are different ways to define eccentricity.
Such as: Eccentric behavor, saying and doing things on occasion which others can only shake thier head and laugh at. Tom and Ray provide fine examples of this.
Eccentric possessions, collections of unneccessary things which you have found purpose for and cant seem to live without.
Eccentric appearance, a notable difference in your clothing, hairstyle, jewelry or vehicle from that which is normally expected. When i was your age i wore lots of colorful flowered shirts with my jeans and brown work boots (which was both unmatching and out of place in a Missouri farmtown).
If perhaps you truly want to be more eccentric i recommend these three steps:

  1. Isolation from peers and society, limiting your interactions with friends and your community will allow you to distance yourself from the oppinions of others and reduce the temptation of trends.
  2. Exposure to many types of cultures and demographics, learning about other people in other parts of the world will give you a wider variety of things to choose from and make your own.
  3. Indulgence in things which you love, finding those things which truly give you a feeling of joy and taking them to an extreme will not only be fullfilling to you but also makes you stand out from the unremarkable people around you.
    Doin these three steps may accelerate your eccentricity, although results may vary.
    Allow me to finish this with one final suggestion, Reconsider your course. Being Eccentric is not something many people set out to do, often times it just happens and once realized it is embraced. At so young an age being eccentric will not work to your advantage. Instead it will invite unfavorable comments from your peers and conflicts with any potential love intrests you have over the next few years.
    Enjoy your youth Madeline, fear not for your early demise and incompleted goals but rather your wasted time in trying to complete those goals. Make the most of today, everyday and you will find your own way.
    Texas Dog Parker

I think it takes a bit of brilliance to be eccentric; If not, you can be just weird. But even that can be made to be eccentric, if that makes sense. Someone that not only doesn’t follow the norm, but is confident and intelligent in doing–Eccentric. It doesn’t hurt to just randomly quote philosophers or Yogi Berra. At the end of the day. You will shine through. Embrace it :slight_smile:


The only difference between being eccentric and being crazy is net worth.
If you’re rich, you’re eccentric.
If you’re poor, you’re crazy.
The behaviors are the same.

Just go work in a garage. Having to inhale toxic fumes for 8+ hrs per day should boost the eccentricities. :slight_smile:

Most thinking people are at least mildly eccentric. They are sceptical of advertising, only buy products they need and fit their specific requirements, are picky as to what talk shows they watch and generally believe that popular people like Al Gore are frauds, and rich frauds at that.

I have an eccentric relative who lives on a farm, is well off, has no TV, Internet or computer. They homeschooled their children, grow all their own vegetables, have 2 large freezers to hold all the food they prepare. Yet, the family is well up on current events, and think Obama is a pompous fraud who completely misled American liberals and visible minorities, and will bankrupt the country.

Doc, that’s skeptical, not eccentric.

As to Al Gore and Barak Obama…well, we’ll see. We haven’t room on this forum for THAT discussion. I’m pleased to hear that your relatives are intelligent, thinking people. Let’s hope the rest of America is.


As an eccentric who is also introspective (you obviously are already the latter yourself) I have found that my eccentricity is based on just two qualities:

  1. You must be insightful, usually in an offbeat way.
  2. You must want to inform others, especially against their will.

It is the essential latter quality that will generate the mild distaste that most folks have for us eccentrics.

Can you not pick these traits up in Clack, the heavier Tappit brother?

Now just get out there and foist your offbeat observations on everyone (just as I am attempting to do now) and soon you, too, will shrink your circle of friends down to a precious few. BUT those precious few will truly love you. So if you think of your eccentricity quest as a sort of winnowing out of false friendships, you’ll see its greatest benefit.

Good luck,