A Contrary girl

by Leah Welborn on February 11, 2011

Leah Welborn

Leah Welborn

If you click the tab up there that says “On the Contrary,” you’ll find an interesting rubric, something of a Contrary mission statement. It reads, in part: “we insist that all of our content is contrary. And, we insist, so is all of yours.” I don’t know about you, but when I read those words, the thought that sprang immediately to mind was, “that’ s not true. ” And then I had to laugh, because my own brain had just demonstrated that it was. And so I decided to let the idea percolate before writing my first blog entry.

What I came up with is this: I’m a very contrary girl (yes, I know the politically correct term is woman, but I’m being contrary – see how it works?). I could say my contrarianism came from my years in graduate school, where you’re trained to question everything – except for your professors and their pet theories – but that’s not true. I was born on the contrary, a living counter point to my family and my environment, in 1970s small town Texas.

My mother has always described herself and her people as “hearty peasant stock”. I’ve grown up with that phrase, knowing that when she says it, it’s often to emphasize my difference from the rest of the tribe. I was a quiet, sickly child, a bookish, delicate misfit among people tough as cactus.  And, as I got older, my tastes and preferences put me in a class of people that my family might well describe as “uppity”.  Arugula eaters. Latte drinkers. People who listen to opera.

Here’s a recent exchange with my mother that will illustrate my point.

me: McDonald’s puts an anti-foaming agent in their French fries. Isn’t that gross?

Mom: No. Not to me. I love their fries. Why is it gross?

me: Well, yes, they are tasty, but why would you put an anti-foaming agent in French fries?

Mom: Would you want your fries to foam ?

me: No, of course not. That’s the point. French fries shouldn’ t foam a t all.

Mom: Well, maybe that’s why they put it in there. To keep their fries from foaming.

We’ve been having conversations like that since I could talk. She and I are closer than any mother and daughter I’ve ever known, and I truly enjoy her company. We’re both Big L Liberals, Yellow Dog Democrats (i.e. we’d vote for a yellow dog way before we’d vote for a Republican). But when it comes to our taste in music, clothes, and especially food, we’re diametrically opposed. Contrary to one another.

And that’s how I learned to define myself. As contrary to her. And perhaps by extension, contrary to the world at large.

So, hi, I’m Leah, and I’m a contrarian with no intention of changing.

lisaschamess February 12, 2011 at 9:49 am

me too. in my case it was my sister. and at some point in my life i had a bit of freefall as i had to then decide not only what i’m not, but also what i am.

i am looking forward to finding out more about what you are not and are, CG.

Leah Welborn February 12, 2011 at 10:16 am

Well said, Lisa. Life is about figuring out what we are and are not, isn’t it?

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