I've been getting some interesting reactions when I tell people I'm still talking to the Eccentric. They range from, "Oh, really?" to "You can still run, you know." Currently leading in popularity, mainly among people who encountered him in the show where we met, is "yipe."

I asked around, and there doesn't seem to be any community conflict or feud driving the difference of opinion. When someone is widely considered to be weird, there's usually a reason. It's not always a good reason, but it does exist. I think it is just that he is very much himself, and this is not everybody's cup of tea. The Eccentric is, well, eccentric -- he really only has one setting, which is fairly intense, and has cultivated such colossal bunny ears I'm not sure how he manages to pack them into the car with the rest of his gear. When I first met him, I wondered if his English was kind of wonky, as he still has an accent. Later, I concluded it was probably his brain. His wife assures me that it is both.

I really shouldn't be surprised. This seems to be the same blind spot I have with friends who are on the spectrum. I tell people that I have a high tolerance for weird, but this phrasing is not strictly accurate; "tolerance" implies that I'm putting up with something I find mildly irksome, when it's really more like the weirdness doesn't register as something to be concerned about in the first place. I know their behavior is unusual, I can specify what's unusual about it, and I can articulate what the more common behavior is. I just keep forgetting that this bothers other people, on an emotional level, because none of it bothers me. When someone veers wildly off-script, I just go, "Huh. That's new. Am I okay with this?" when I think other people take a while to get past, "....the fuck?" and some of them never quite do.

Much of it seems to be that, as mentioned, he only has 'off' and 'full-throttle', and this also applies to people. 'Possessive' was suggested by one person, but that's not right; he's not more than ordinarily concerned with what I get up to when he's not around, and his opinion on it is mainly, "Cool, my friends do stuff." He does make the 'yes, I like you'/'no, not really' decision very quickly, though, and if it's 'yes' then the single-minded full-contact friend-making commences! I'm unsure how much of this is cultural and how much of it is him. He does still have a very Middle Eastern sense of proxemics. Americans have a strange obsession with personal space, to the point where we spent much of the 19th century convinced that God told us to take over the entire continent so that we could have more of it, so it's always noticeable when someone has a friend radius of less than the eight statute miles customary here.

He is aware that he's weird, and kind of a lot sometimes -- not necessarily enough to keep himself from being weird in the moment, assuming he wants to, but enough that he is mindful of being misinterpreted. When we started talking about dancing, he also started making much mention of his wonderful wife. I was like, yes, your wife does sound wonderful, and I would love to meet her in the course of the actual, literal dancing we are discussing here! I thought it was clear that he wasn't hitting on me, but I can see where other people would be less sure.

The Eccentric also wants to be very close to people he likes, physically and otherwise. It's blatant and to a degree that a lot of romantic partners would find unacceptable. I know this because I have run afoul of some of these partners in the past. I was much more concerned with Mrs. Eccentric in the beginning than I was with him. I have learned the hard way that if someone is really, viscerally convinced that you are up to no good with their mate, factual innocence is an ineffective defense.

He is surprisingly up-front about his motivations for all this; I got a small novel about what he hopes to get out of his dance partners at one point, which I summed up, apparently to a fair degree of accuracy, as duende. I can't speak for everywhere in the world, but American culture has very little place for that kind of intimate synchronicity outside of romantic relationships. If that's your only context, I can see where the impression of possessiveness comes from. He picks specific people and decides that they are his, with very little input as to how they feel about being adopted. If your concept of mine automatically means not yours, this is probably rather uncomfortable; it would lead you to see implications and constraints where I think he intends none. If you can be mine to a variety of people in a variety of ways without seeing conflicts in it, then what you think of this is largely down to how much you like having him around.

I like him a lot. I've been inducted into the dance harem. I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing there, with the various titled bachata competitors and ice dancers and whatnot, but I'll learn eventually. If Mrs. Eccentric is at all bothered by any of this, she deserves an Oscar.

Notably, Ye Ballroom Instructor is also acquainted with the Eccentric, albeit not well. He is one of the few people who has just absorbed my commentary on all of this with, "yeah, I can see that." This is probably why I like him, too.


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