The art of being abnormal — lessons from Spongebob Squarepants

A defense of the fry cook from Bikini Bottom

lf17-alylee

I’ve had no small share of shocks and horrors this semester, from missing my coffee before 8 a.m. lecture to losing my favorite pair of socks. Yet, my heart nearly dropped when while perusing Facebook I saw an anguished face, a single tear rolling past buck teeth and a long yellow nose.

It was Spongebob Squarepants. Mighty Porifera, yellow and porous is he, was weeping.

Why? It was the end of his show.

I was, as they say, completely “shook.” Spongebob? My Spongebob? Ending?

For a few tortured days, I walked around Grounds in misery. Many mocked me saying they were glad the show was ending — finally free of that sponge and his tubby friend. I tried to tell them what he meant to me, but I could not find the words.

Well, first lesson of college — don’t believe everything you see on Facebook. The post was completely false.

Still, I was so disturbed by the very notion of the show ending, I felt called to write a defense in response to all the Spongebob haters of the world.

I came into Spongebob rather late in the game. Of the several cartoons my over-protective parents forbade me from watching, “Spongebob Squarepants” was chief among them. Like most middle-class parents, mom and dad read all the studies showing kids with depleted brain cells from watching too much of the show. Consequently, they barred me from exposing my precious brain to such atrocity. Thus, it wasn’t until I was well into my rebellious pre-teens that I became acquainted with the wonderful yellow sponge from Bikini Bottom.

At the first shrill of his nose-flute, I was enraptured. Now, before your elitist square-pants get in a twist, hear me out. Yes, his laugh can be annoying. Yes, you may lose some brain cells. But for me, there was something beautiful about Spongebob. In the dark, turbulent sea of adolescence, Spongebob would get me out of my head. Patrick would implore, “Is mayonnaise an instrument?” and even the suckiest day would be forgotten in a bubble of laughter.

Not only that, Spongebob is the epitome of innocence. I am a very cynical person. I can ruin a perfectly good moment by my scoffing spirit. From his love of bubble blowing to his relentless devotion to Mermaid Man, Spongebob represents all the unsoiled vision I wish I had. He trusts people without hesitation and sees every occasion as an opportunity. Who else could turn a pizza delivery into a titillating adventure?

Spongebob also loves his friends in all of their flaws. Patrick is hopelessly dense. Squidward is an aggressive misanthrope. Yet Spongebob loves all of them — clarinet included. That kind of unconditional friendship is rare today.

Oh, and Spongebob is a hard worker — arguably more hardworking than any University student. If only I had the amount of devotion for my economics textbook as Spongebob does for the Krabby Patty secret formula.

Most of all, Spongebob is proud of what he does and who he is. No matter what the world may say about fry cooks and sponges with eyelashes, Spongebob carries himself with confidence and grace. In one of the most empowering episodes, Squidward tries to make Spongebob “normal” by giving him a handbook on “How to be Normal for Beginners.”

Slowly, Spongebob mutates from his cheeky square-self to a rounded, freckle-less sponge from the suburbs. His eccentric antics are usurped by a cubicle job and bland conversations. After a while though, Spongebob hates his new normal self and cries to Patrick, “I don’t wanna be normal … Normal is not worth it!”

I remember hearing those words in my emo, pre-pubescent identity crisis. Normal is not worth it. How many times have I felt abnormal? How many times have I wished I could change? Yet, there Spongebob was with me. When I tried to repress my nerdy obsessions or thought my small, almond eyes were ugly, Spongebob told me, “Normal is not worth it.”

So, thank you, Mr. Squarepants. Whether it’s your infectious energy, your indefatigable will or your unshakeable self-love — you have made me more whole. And to all you Spongebob haters out there, lose a few brain cells, and catch a few jellyfish.

I’ll close in Spongebob’s own wise words, “The best time to wear a striped sweater … is all the time.”

Wear your striped sweaters friends. Normal is not worth it. 

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