Misfits among misfits? That’s a good thing

Published 6:30 pm Friday, December 10, 2010

“How Do You Like That? Even Among Misfits You’re Misfits”

I like many of the great classics, both books and movies. However, some of the classics are difficult to understand and somewhere in my interpretation of things I sometimes lose the point of the story. But there is one great Christmas classic that I have loved since childhood, and I think I get it!

I remember quite vividly as Christmas neared many years ago, this great classic was going to be on TV. The problem I encountered was that we had one TV in our home and the family did not want to watch my movie. Actually, we had one and one-half TVs in our home. The half TV worked half the time. Not to be outdone, I took the half-working TV into the dining room, placed it on the table, and plugged it in. I always had to plan for about 30 minutes of adjustments with the TV in advance of any program. Adjustments always included putting a clothes hanger in the hole where the antennae use to be and strategic placement of aluminum foil on the rabbit ears that I had made with the clothes hanger. We did not have cable or satellite dish. Plasma and high definition TV did not exist! The picture was a little snowy and the sound was muffled, but that was OK because I knew most of the lines by heart.

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As a matter of fact, my title is a quote from that movie. “How do you like that? Even among misfits you’re misfits.” This line by Yukon Cornelius is spoken after King Moonraiser tells Yukon, Herbie, and Rudolph that they may not live on the Island of Misfit Toys. Remember the great classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?

Early in the movie, Herbie, who wants to be a dentist, sings, “Why am I such a misfit? Seems I don’t fit in.” Herbie leaves Santa’s Toy Shop dejected and lonely. Shortly afterwards, Rudolph sings, “Why am I such a misfit? Just because my nose glows, why don’t I fit in?” Rudolph, rejected by Santa, walks away as the other reindeer make it perfectly clear that Rudolph cannot join in any of their games.

Misfit. What is a misfit? The American Heritage Dictionary defines a misfit as “a person who . . . is disturbingly different….”

Have you ever felt like a misfit? Have you ever felt disturbingly different from those around you? I have, and on occasion I am glad that I have been the misfit.

You see, there are times when you ought to be a misfit; you ought to be disturbingly different. Let me share with you times when I believe being a misfit is best.

Be a misfit when those around you are drinking alcohol, passing the joint, taking pills, shooting up, and snorting for a high. Be a misfit when those around you try to recruit you to sell drugs, try to get you to participate in sexual misconduct, and try to get you to participate in criminal activity. Be a misfit when those around you join a gang, and when those around you rely on guns and knives to settle differences. Be a misfit when those around you have no value for work or fail to show respect for authority. Be a misfit when those around you play music with filthy lyrics, read pornographic books and magazines, and watch pornographic and violent videos and movies. Be a misfit when those in your class refuse to study, read, write, or try in school.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer contains a vast compilation of misfits including the elf who doesn’t like to make toys, an old prospector looking for silver and gold in the North Pole, the prospector’s sled pulled by dogs to include a poodle, an abominable snow monster named Bumble, a neon-nosed reindeer, and an entire island of misfit toys. But as this great story ends, those in Christmas Town start to realize maybe they were a little hard on the misfits. Maybe misfits have a place, too.

There is a place for misfits, but the world will be hard on misfits calling them names, making fun of them, and leaving them out. But let me tell you how you’ll be left out. If you don’t start to drink, you’ll be left out of alcoholism. If you don’t sell drugs and participate in other illegal activity, you’ll be left out of prison. If you don’t engage in promiscuous sexual relations, you’ll be left out of venereal diseases, AIDS, and unwanted pregnancies. If you don’t join a gang, you’ll be left out of much criminal activity. If you don’t resort to guns and knives to settle your differences, you’ll be left out of the emergency room and delay your arrival at the morgue. If you don’t listen to garbage and watch garbage, your mind will be left out of the gutter. If you don’t read and watch pornographic material, you’re less likely to become a rapist or a molester of innocent children. If you value work, study hard, get an education, and respect authority and yourself, you will be left off unneeded governmental support.

I want to challenge you to be disturbingly different and to be a misfit when the situation warrants. After all, some misfits go down in history. Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer did. And my old misfit TV, 40 years later it lives on as a cherished childhood memory. Hurray for the misfits!

Dr. Kathy Murphy is principal at Charles Henderson High School.