The Lady of the Manners feels like she needs to state that the question in this edition of Gothic Charm School is one she had never received before. Which isn’t to say it’s bad, or creepy, or unsettling! Just … this isn’t something that people have asked before. It comes from a young spooky creature:
well two things one I love your book and now two my mom is one of the vampire subculture kind of people but she hides it from the rest of our family she also has accepted I’m Goth but I don’t live with her now I live with my gran and she can be judgmental and will not accept it now comes the fact I dress like a werewolf with the ears tail eyes and teeth most people know of vampires in the gothic subculture just not wolves there a little less understanding and I’m leader of a nonviolent pack but my family will not understand this like this I have them read your book but I just don’t know what to do any more I get asked by strangers and I get one chance to make a good impression for Goths and wolves plez help me answering it without the accidently rudeness is a bit hard
The Lady of the Manners will be honest, it took her a few readings of the message before she was able to understand what was being asked, but not because of any distaste or side-eying of the subject, but purely because of the writing style. Punctuation, Snarklings. Punctuation and writing for clarity; learn about them and embrace them.
The Lady of the Manners is NOT saying this out of some sort of scholarly elitism or writing snobbery! Writing is part of communication, and if you want to make the best possible impression with someone you’ve never met, being able to write in a way that is easily understood is important. Something written with no pauses or breaks between sentences comes across as someone quickly blurting out a bunch of information, without stopping for breath or to see if the person they’re communicating with grasps what they’re trying to say. So! Punctuation. It is everyone’s friend, and being able to write a clearly-understood message is an incredibly valuable skill.
With the small writing lesson digression out of the way: You’re right, Wolfy Snarkling, that people are far more aware of vampires and vampyres in the gothic subcultures. (VampYres with a “y” to indicate the people who are part of that subculture, and are not the same as vampire fiction enthusiasts.) The Lady of the Manners isn’t really sure why more people in the gothic subculture don’t identify with werewolves, for they are, just like vampires, a classic example of someone separate from regular society; a monstrous Other who is feared by the rational world. (The Lady of the Manners once had an interesting discussion with some people about the genre divides that were a relatively accurate predictor of your preferred subculture: goths liked vampires, with their elegant menace tinged with decay, and metalheads preferred werewolves, with their tribal loyalty and explosive, semi-feral nature. But none of that is written in stone anywhere, and there is no one particular supernatural creature someone has to like (or identify with) to feel aligned with goth.)
Because you dress like a werewolf, with the ears, tail, eyes (contact lenses, the Lady of the Manners assumes?), and teeth, you are going to attract attention. Most people don’t come across other folks dressed like that, so when they see you, of course they’re going to ask questions. Here’s the thing you need to remember, Wolfy Snarkling: you don’t have to give them detailed answers if you don’t want to. If someone asks you why you’re wearing those things, simply answer, “because I like them,” or, “because I want to”.
You see, you don’t owe them an explanation! Most people asking about someone’s personal appearance aren’t looking for a lengthy explanation, they just want a soundbite. If they do press you for more information, you could answer them with something about how you identify with the archetype of the werewolf, or how you want to have your exterior represent your sense of self. Or merely smile, say, “It makes me happy”, and go on about your business.
Your wanting to make a good impression for goths and werewolves is an admirable goal. However, many people just won’t understand your devotion to the werewolf subculture, and will assume you have a very active imagination, or are involved in an elaborate game of pretend, or their only frame of reference will be sensationalist shock “news” stories about furries. And, the Lady of the Manners wants to make sure that you understand that almost all of those people will think you’re weird.
THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING WEIRD.
Own your weirdness. Are you hurting yourself or anyone else? (The Lady of the Manners assumes not, in light of your “nonviolent pack” comment.) If not, then you’re fine; go forth and be true to your wolfy self! Because that’s the big secret, the one that the Lady of the Manners wants to make sure all you Snarklings know:
OWN YOUR WEIRDNESS
Who cares what those other people think? You shouldn’t. Be prepared for people not to get it, to make “joking” or mean-spirited comments, but armor yourself with the knowledge that generally, you don’t need to worry about those people’s opinions. Smile politely (but perhaps not a wide smile that displays your fangs) at them, and then ignore them. This is the key to being a happy eccentric of any sort. Yes, you must live in the world, but make sure that you’re doing it on your own terms, and that you’re being true to yourself.
Now, what about the people whose opinions you do need to pay attention to? Family, teachers, co-workers and employers? For school and work, make sure to follow any explicitly-stated dress codes, and work hard at being brilliant. It is amazing how many eccentricities will be overlooked if the eccentric in question is very, very good at what they do. As for family members: try not to get frustrated by them, but make it very clear that this is who you are, this is how you have decided to approach life, and that you are asking them to respect that. And if they don’t, grit your teeth, do what you can to keep family harmony without causing yourself any emotional harm, and focus on when you will be able to live your life on your own terms.
Finally, since you have a pack (who share your ideas)? Turn to them for support, and make it a pack project to craft a clear, concise explanation of what has drawn you all to the werewolf ways, so when you find people who do want more than a soundbite, you have something ready to say. (For example, when people ask the Lady of the Manners about “this goth thing”, she’s able to give them a short explanation involving being an offshoot of the punk subculture, and finding beauty in dark places, with some easy-to-reference examples such as The Addams Family, Dracula, and Tim Burton movies.)
What say you, Snarklings? Do any of you have helpful words for Wolfy Snarkling?
(Comments, as always, are moderated.)