On Being Strange ~ Outside the Margins with Dorien Grey

Join Prism Book Alliance® as Dorien Grey goes Outside the Margins today.


My first just-out-of-college job was in the customer service department of the Olson Rug Company—a then-well-known manufacturer which claimed to recycle wool the customers sent in to make them a new rug. The rugs were also two sided and proudly boasted, because they were all wool, that “Olson Rugs do not Burn”—in my mind I changed that to “Olson Rugs do nor Burn: they Smolder!” At one point we received a letter from a lady who wanted the company to give her new rugs in exchange for “The Secret.” She couldn’t tell us what The Secret was until she got her rugs because The Secret was…well, a secret. She had, she explained, offered The Secret to the Sheriff, but he was sitting on two chairs. Regrettably, we did not take her up on her kind offer.

I fear this dear lady went a bit beyond the limits of “strange”, but every human being has his or her little idiosyncrasies and degrees of strangeness. It comes far more naturally to some than to others. While most do their best to hide them, as a writer I rather enjoy mine. At times I think I rather cultivate them, like hothouse flowers.

But as I was thinking of this topic, I realized that many of my strangenesses (like making up words like “strangenesses”) are directly related to my fascination with words.

I like to make up ditties which, like a spot of raspberry jam on a white shirt, tend to be nearly impossible to remove, cropping up randomly years later. Two which leapt to mind the minute I though of it involve my cat, Crickett (Cricketty Cricketty Crickett, Fell fast asleep in a thicket. Dreamed of a rose shaped like a nose and thought ‘When I wake up, I’ll pick it) and Bozo, a marvelous yellow lab I had for only a short time before he was killed by a car (Bozo Bozo Bozo; punch ‘em in the nose-o. Make ‘em pay, then run away, ‘cause that’s the way it goes-o). Why they should still be with me after so many years, I have no idea.

And I frequently find myself playing a strange word game of rhyming opposites, which I tie together by thinking of them as greetings, and which potentially has no end (Hello, morning, hello, noon/Hello fork, hello, spoon/Hello here, hello there/Hello sofa, hello chair”…ad infinitum). I find I can play it until my mind grows numb. (Hello smile, hello pout/Hello in, hello out…see what I mean?)

I enjoy figuring out how many words can be made from other words without repeating letters: I think I got at least 53 from the word “diplomat”, for example.

For the most part, my idiosyncrasies affect no one but me, and I consider them totally harmless. I take an odd sense of comfort in them, and were I just to shut up about having them, most would not be aware I had them (perhaps yet another idiosyncrasy: self delusion).

My mind’s tendency to resemble a downed power line, thrashing about and sending off sprays of sparks, provides me with both pleasure and frustration. As I finished the last paragraph…and there is a link between them, obtuse as it may be…I suddenly thought of a guy I met in Los Angeles. He was aboard the Andrea Doria when it sank, so I was fascinated by him. A nice looking guy, he had particularly nice hair. But I hadn’t known him for more than ten minutes when he informed me he wore a full toupee. Now, I never in the world would have known it had he not told me and still cannot figure out why he did. One would imagine people wear a toupee to hide the fact that they are bald. But why go to the trouble if you’re going to tell everyone you meet you’re wearing one?

So I guess it boils down to the fact that, as mentioned above, admit it or not, strangenesses and idiosyncrasies are a part of human existence. And as long as we have them, we might as well enjoy them.

~Dorien Grey


About Dorien Grey

If it is possible to have a split personality without being schizophrenic, Dorien Grey qualifies. When long-time book and magazine editor Roger Margason chose the pseudonym “Dorien Grey” for his first book, it set off a chain of circumstances which has led to the comfortable division of labor and responsibility. Roger has charge of day-to-day existence, freeing Dorien—with the help of Roger’s fingers—to write. It has reached the point where Roger merely sits back and reads the stories Dorien brings forth on the computer screen.

It’s not as though Roger has not had an uninteresting life of his own. Two years into college, he left to join the Naval Aviation Cadet program. Washing out after a year, he spent the rest of his brief military career on an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean at the height of the cold war. The journal he kept of his time in the military, in the form of letters home, honed his writing skills and provided him with a wealth of experiences to draw from in his future writing. These letters will be appearing in book form shortly.

Returning to Northern Illinois University after service, he graduated with a B.A. in English, and embarked on a series of jobs which worked him into the editing field. While working for a Los Angeles publishing house, he was instrumental in establishing a division exclusively for the publication of gay paperbacks and magazines, of which he became editor. He moved on to edit a leading L.A. based international gay men’s magazine.

Tiring of earthquakes, brush fires, mud slides, and riots, he returned to the Midwest, where Dorien emerged, full-blown, like Venus from the sea. They’ve been inseparable (and interchangeable) ever since.

He . . . and Dorien of course…moved back to Chicago in 2006, where they now devote full time to writing. Author of the popular Dick Hardesty Mystery series, the Elliott Smith (paranormal) Mystery, the stand-alone western/romance/adventure novel, Calico, plus the non fiction A World Ago: A Navy Man’s Letters Home, 1954-1956; Short Circuits: A Life in Blogs, and a book of poems (Dreams of a Calico Mouse), Dorien is in the process of having all his books done as audiobooks.

But for a greater insight into the “”real person”” behind Dorien Grey, the curious are invited to check out his website (http://www.doriengrey.com), which includes the first chapter of any or all of his books for free, and his various blogs: Dorien Grey and Me (http://www.doriengreyandme.com) and A Life in Photos                 (http://www.doriengreyphotolife.blogspot.com) among them.

There is nothing Dorien loves more than hearing from a reader…or potential reader. If you’d like to contact him, just drop him a note at doriengrey@gmail.com.

Facebook (several “”pages”” there): www.facebook.com/doriengrey


Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

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Prism Book Alliance® assumes no liability for the ownership of photos or content used in guest posts and interviews.  The post author assumes all responsibility and liability for this content.

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