Before you speak, ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence? -Sathya Sai Baba

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Gah! Not like this.

Woman on the train, tightly curly hair, high cheekbones, looked exactly a woman I did a disastrous play with in Cortland, NY. The woman with whom I worked, Victoria, was pretty and patrician, thin as a whip and entirely intimidating to me. We had exactly zero chemistry, mostly due to my inexplicable terror of her, and the play was the beginning of the end of my time in the theater.

And here she was! On my train! Except, looking closer, not. Not really. This woman was slightly broader in the face, shorter in statue, narrower eyes, darker hair. Still and all, though, she could have been Victoria's sister.

Now, there's a part of my brain which, in spite of my messy, free-wheeling persona, craves order, and finds it deeply comforting. People overuse the term "OCD," but I believe that there are fundamental, organic structures in the mind that love symmetry and balance. And what this part of my mind would really like would be to line people up, in, say, a flip book, and show the gradations of skin color and eye shape and brow shape and head shape and all the other variations, and in order, please. By order, I mean any arbitrary system that goes from, for example, thinner to fatter, darker to lighter, taller to shorter. I don't particularly care what the order is. I simply long to see the minute changes playing along a timeline, orderly and regular. It soothes some fundamental hunger in my soul.

I can see them, like the crayons in a box that I spent many blissful hours ordering and re-ordering,  gradually lightening in shade and in hue, from black to brown to red to orange to yellow to green to blue to purple. The ones left over were white (not "flesh," no longer a color, I believe), gold, and silver, which were grouped together at the end. The variations on themes, between periwinkle and cornflower, between rust and brick, are small, but would consume my time. I would experiment with the starting point, the order, and whether yellow green proceeded to blue through green or down through yellow to orange.

Perhaps there is some great lesson here in race relations, but I'm not so sure. Probably not.

Image: By Crayonsman (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

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