Odd Flex, But Okay

Behind Enemy Lines.
Chicago, IL. 2019.

My middle-school writing classes insisted that textbook-definitions could serve as a strong opener to any written masterpiece. And since I have selectively scrubbed every other memory of middle-school out of my hippocampus (a la Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), there’s no harm in trying it out.

The well-esteemed, little known Urban Dictionary indicates that the otherwise unsuspecting pairing of two words, ‘odd flex’, is quite complex in nature. Together, they refer to a situation where “someone brags about something that shouldn’t be bragged about”. And so, meme lovers across the globe have adopted an equal parts snarky and sarcastic response: ‘odd flex, but okay’ AKA ‘weird flex, but okay’.

To know when to properly use the phrase is to first understand the difference between when things are either appropriate or socially unacceptable to brag about. This reinforces the idea that no matter how trendy or annoying some catchphrases may be, meme culture is quite intelligent. A dark knight in the world of comedy, if you will.

Comedians have a way of surfacing judgments instilled deep inside our collective conscious in a three step process; first bringing your awareness to your own predisposed opinions, then possessing you to laugh as a signal of understanding/relief/shock, finally providing you with the immediate comfort of surprisingly like-minded individuals laughing alongside you. To be a successful comedian is to understand the public conscious and oscillate listeners between various states of discomfort and relief.

What I’m saying is, there are levels to this sh*t. We might not always understand why we find something funny. But, the John Mulaneys, Nate Bargatzes, and Dave Chappelles of the world know exactly what they’re doing. They can find the humor in our otherwise uninteresting encounters with school assemblies, coffee order failures at Starbucks, and rare parties with Rick James, b*tch.

So, I’ve decided to take a whack at listing some ‘odd flexes’ that we might see displayed in our everyday lives. The humor should be found in realizing that: 1) you agree it is odd to brag about said thing, 2) you find relief in knowing that others find the same thing odd, 3) knowing you will feel wildly uncomfortable the next time you enact similar ‘flexes’.

Doing the splits on the dance floor. This isn’t the most technically advanced, well-transitioned, or attractive move available. The sacrificial torn clothing, haunting bruises, and robbed dignity are inevitable. But it is an effective move to raise the proverbial ante of any dance-off. Whether you win or lose, everyone leaves with more questions than they came with. Odd flex, but okay.

Asking to try on the mannequin’s clothes at a retail store. It’s the most powerful request any layperson can make. Assert your dominance by requiring another to painstakingly undress and redress an uncooperative, fragile doll (as you watch). Any time I fulfilled this request as a loyal textile servant, these items were never purchased anyway! Odd flex, but okay x2.

Paying with a debit card instead of a credit card. You know the feeling. “Debit or credit?” Your immediate internal response is Honey, we’re playing with real money this week. I just got P.A.I.D. And all you say is “Debit, please.” Odd flex, but okay.

Pronouncing technically foreign words with an accent. When your fellow gringa surprises you with an unnecessary (but accurate) pronunciation of ‘chorizo’, ‘horchata’, or ‘torta’, your brain immediately recognizes the cerebral assassination. Secretly re-up your Duolingo lessons before the next meet-up. Hit them with a dedicated ‘enchilada’ out of nowhere. Odd flex, but okay.

Quoting any book that we weren’t all required to read in high-school. Bonus points if it’s non-fiction. Unlimited points if it’s a collection of scientific studies. If you get it tattooed, game over. High-score, did I break it? Odd flex, but okay.

Whistling with your fingers. We get it, you had a dad. Odd flex, but okay.

Lining up first at a buffet. We all get shy when it comes to eating in group settings. We acquiesce to the power of the group and present the most gracious versions of ourselves. Having the confidence to emphatically line up first begs the question – what else do you have the confidence to do, you unstoppable force? Odd flex, but okay.

Wearing a hat indoors. Either you’re the next Ted Kaczynski, Joe Goldberg, or you just really really love the Dallas Cowboys. Either way, we appreciate you sticking it to the man. And with such style! Odd flex, but okay.

Running without headphones. Cool, you have like inner peace or something? You’re not running from your thoughts? You do this for fun? Odd flex, but okay.

Getting an a** tattoo. The fact that someone would have the confidence to a) get this done and b) excite another with its existence astounds me. Some of the most outwardly mild humans that I know have this dirty little secret. Cue the jaw-drop moment, every single time. You didn’t have to flex on all of us like that, but you did.

Now, you’ve likely noticed that some of these examples were hyperbole. I’ve got a dramatic sense of humor that bases itself in irony. I’d likely pee my pants laughing if someone said ‘odd flex, but okay’ to me for something simple like pouring coffee, or putting on eyeliner.

But – that’s because it takes the chain of understanding one step further (we both know said thing isn’t a flex). What I’m saying is, I’m really smart. And I wear adult diapers.

As Whitney Cumming says, “anything that isn’t funny is either a lie or an insult”. Which explains a lot about your ex boyfriend (#boomroasted).

The point is: stay truth telling, stay knee-slapping, stay shining that light.

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“No one has a good day on Facebook. It’s everybody’s worst day of their lives. And it’ll be the first thing you look at.

You wake up and look at Facebook and they’ll be like ‘Do you want to see a murder video?’ and I’ll be like ‘I don’t at all, I just woke up’. I’m just trying to see who’s birthday it is, you know. And they’re just like ‘Well we already started playing it so…'”

Nate Bargatze. The Standups. 2017.