Imagine you had a roommate who you’d known for ten years as a somewhat annoying, slightly compulsive, very finicky but ultimately very talented and capable individual. Now, suppose that one day this person showed up wearing completely new, very trendy clothes. A new hairstyle, sort of a New Wave flip, shaved on one side and with a big flop of hair over the left eye. Imagine that he insisted on doing everything different: milk in his coffee when he used to take it black, taking cabs to work instead of the bus, eating raw grains and sushi instead of hamburgers and french fries, switching his keyboard layout to Dvorak, filing things according to Zodiac signs instead of alphabetically. Suppose everything you asked him to do now took him three times longer to complete than before.
Suppose, too, that he insisted on speaking a new language, like Esperanto, whenever possible, although he’d condescend to translate his statements into English when you asked him to. Imagine that he moved all the kitchen cookware to new drawers, hiding some of it in the coat closet, his shoe drawer, or out in the garden under an inverted clay pot. Imagine that he redecorated your apartment in shaded gradients of blue, and replaced all the fixtures and switches with translucent candylike plastic buttons.
Imagine that on top of this he was also asking you to pick up a greater share of the rent, because he’d blown all his money on the new clothes, the sushi, and a feng shui consultant who advised him on where to hide all the cookware.
Would you think this person was merely odd, eccentric, or that he was going through a phase? Maybe he’s finally decided he’s gay, and that’s OK? Would you think, “Hey, it’s a daring new move, and once we all get used to it, we’ll love him even better this way”? Would you applaud his bold new look and try to get used to the new apartment, the slowness, the Esperanto?
Or would you conclude that the guy had gone completely insane?