(originally posted 11/30/2012)
I’ve had this gift as long as I can remember. The seemingly unique ability to capture things, to turn a phrase or describe the indescribable. As far back as grade school I would have my teachers weeping openly as they read my papers. I recall the lined paper bubbling and buckling trying to contain the words that flowed from my #2 pencil.
In high school a teacher confided in me that as she read a paper I had written about the depths a character had fallen and their subsequent climb to dizzying heights that her ears had actually popped.
By college I had progressed to the stage where I didn’t even need words anymore. I was past all that. My thesis was forty blank pages for which I received an A. My gift could no longer be constrained by the language. I would take my thesis down to the big tank at SeaWorld and not read it aloud and the dolphins would squeal their delight and flip and do somersaults and drench me in their appreciation.
Of course the women responded.
At first it would take a few minutes of conversation to sway them but eventually even a glance became too much. As I would enter a bar I would have to take great care as not to make eye contact for more than a few second else they fall unconscious and lay slumped across their stool before I could whisk them out into the night with me. Once at my apartment they would squeal their delight and flip and do somersaults and drench me in their appreciation.
I have read all the dictionaries. Eagerly searching the pages for a word that I might have missed. Hunting down their roots and histories in the hopes of finding some new way of saying something, adding another bullet to my arsenal. But alas, I have wrung the last drop from the English language. I have exhausted all the colors on the palette.
Don’t kid yourself though, I realize how brilliant my stories are. You should read the ones I haven’t written. I know they change lives. They are a lifeline for some, a last and singular reminder of the beauty that lives within humanity. I am black and white and read all over. A poignant counterbalance to reality TV and Shamwow commercials. I read the offers that continue to pour in like an unwelcome thundershower; TV, movies, books, children’s parties. But they hold no allure to a man with a gift like mine.
You just can’t imagine a life like mine… unless, of course, you are comfortable imagining a chameleon living in a plaid jungle. A chamaeleonidae messenger asking that you kill the message.
I leave that to you to figure out.
I’ll give you a hint (consider it a gift) … chameleons change their color an expression of their physical and psychological condition, not, as is commonly believed, to match their surroundings.