Weird thought that suddeny struck me about Daryl getting all cleaned up … I wonder if he knows how.
Now, Daryl is one of the characters I most personally identify with, both on TWD and just media in general (which is kinda hilarious seeing as I’m tiny, physically-inept woman in her 20s). I worship Carol, but I recognise Daryl. And over and over, things he does or that happen to him remind me of my own (kinnnnnda crappy) upbringing. This ew-dirty-Daryl thing is, bizarrely, one of them. Thus, I present my own experiences with cleanliness.
I grew up dirt poor (like, “gee, I hope we can afford bread this week” poor), I grew up in a trailer (yes, I am trailer trash), I mostly homeschooled, and I had no friends. The person who raised me (not the horrific abusive piece of crap) was an angel, but also very busy, and had the personal-physical-care beliefs of someone from the 1950s. As weird as it may sound, due to all of this I never learned (as a kid) how to enact ‘hygiene’ to the standards of the rest of society. We didn’t have a shower: I bathed, maybe once a week, maybe less. I barely brushed my hair - it hurt, my hair was long and tangled, and we never got it cut. My clothes got washed, sure, but I was expected to wear them at least a few times before that happened. I never brushed my teeth: it was mentioned, but not enforced; I literally went years at a time without brushing. The only good thing I can say is that I probably didn’t absolutely reek, because eventually my parent bought me deodorant. All of this was exacerbated when I spent the entirety of my teenage years with clinical depression, which pretty much kills your interest in physical care.
Basically: my parent didn’t teach me the generally accepted standards of cleanliness; I never had any sort of health classes or other hygenic instruction from school; and I had no friends whose behaviours I could imitate. I grew up with literally no idea how to be (or knowledge that I should be) “clean” like everyone else was. I didn’t even start to learn how to be ‘clean’ until college, when I finally had other people to observe to try to determine what was normally expected, and the internet to search for some sort of instructions! Do you have any idea how weird it is to have to learn how to shower at the age of 19?!? (Let me put it this way - the first few times, I wore swim goggles). But seriously, suddenly being surrounded by people who had these completely different expectations, and having no idea how to go about fulfilling those expectations, it makes you feel disgusting. It makes you feel stupid. It makes you feel pathetic. It makesw you feel like a freak. And you sure as heck aren’t about to ask someone for instructions, because you don’t want anyone knowing just how disgusting/stupid/pathetic/freakish/messed up you are.
I ask your forgiveness if this is way TMI, haha. I assure you that nowadays I am pretty dern clean, my breath smells all minty fresh, and my hair is cute as heck if I do say so myself :P.
But I do wonder if any of Daryl’s much-mocked (and don’t get me wrong - Carol threatening to hose him down will never stop being hilarious) aversion to cleanliness is a lack of ability, a lack of knowledge. I lived like that for 20 years. He’s lived like that for 40. Suddenly, people are expecting things of him he may not have had expected of him before (at the prison they had showers, sure, but I’m thinking with no electricity and limited access to supplies, people still weren’t being overly picky). And stuff like that, stuff everyone assumes everyone knows and does, it makes you feel so much lesser when you don’t know how to live up to those apparently required standards. It really does.
ANYHOO. Who knows if this has any bearing at all, I’m certainly not proferring it as a concrete theory, it’s just idle thoughts and perspectives, as always.
Thanks for reading my accidental essay! I should … probably go back to the actual studying I’m supposed to be doing.