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Another Day in the Country

Tall, dark, and caffeinated

© Another Day in the Country

This morning, I grabbed a T-shirt out of the T-shirt drawer and yanked it over my head as I was getting dressed, pleased with myself for the looks of the drawer, with it’s neat rows of carefully rolled shirts: red, black, white, stripes, blue, black.

I’ve been watching those tidying-up videos again in my spare time — which I seem to have too much of.

As I was running a brush over my hair, I could see my reflection in the mirror and grinned at the design on the front of my black T-shirt. It was a takeout cup of coffee and it said, “I like them tall, dark and caffeinated.”

“Well, Pat Wick,” I said to the girl in the mirror, “aren’t you a little old to be wearing such a silly T-shirt?”

The girl in the mirror didn’t say anything. She just grinned mischievously. Then I consoled myself that I’d actually bought the shirt in a pajama department. It wasn’t necessarily made for daytime wear, but here I was wearing it in the daytime.

There is a truth in the T-shirt slogan. I do like coffee, however, with cream, and a little caffeine doesn’t bother me. And, I always have preferred taller, swarthier looking men.

I had quite a silent crush in my early teens for a tall, dark teenager in my church group. His mother was blonde and blue-eyed, and his father came from Mexico. A person’s ethnicity, through all the skin tones, meant nothing to me, but it did to my parents. (You have to remember this was in the 1950s.)

I didn’t know and had rarely seen — except at a distance — any African American kids. I was living in Kansas. We had very little visible difference in skin tone.

I was a grown woman when it hit me that my parents may have been seriously concerned about my preference for looks. In fact, I was almost 50, divorced, and heading to India on a photo assignment.

“Be careful over there,” my father chuckled, “and don’t bring back some tall, dark, and handsome man with you.”

I laughed. Then I thought to myself, “Was he serious?” It was so unthinkable to my parents for anyone to manage being single — especially at my age —truthfully, for them, at any age. Was he really worried?

In India, I saw so many beautiful people — especially children. I couldn’t take my eyes (or my camera) off them. The women of India are beautiful. I was especially taken by the beauty of women in the fields wearing colorful saris and working hard with hot sun glistening off their faces. They were still beautiful — like butterflies.

The men were good looking, too — dark eyed, dark hair, glistening white teeth. When I got there, my party had the luxury of staying in a hotel. At the front door, the concierge was dressed in almost military style — black pants, crisp shirt, gold-trimmed waistcoat, an elegant red turban on his head. He was a tall, dark, handsome man!

I took his picture and sent it back to my parents. “Will this one do?” I scribbled on the envelope. I couldn’t resist!

My sister almost married a tall, dark, and handsome man. It wasn’t his looks, nor his ethnicity, that fouled up the union. It was his ethics.

There’s a whole host of things we should be worried about when choosing a partner or a friend — kindness, honesty, a sense of humor — and the least of these should be the color of eyes, hair, and skin. It seems to me we should always be most worried about important things like ethics.

How did we get so hung up on skin color? Do you ever wonder about things like that? Do you ever talk about it amongst yourselves?

I wondered about it again this morning when I pulled this silly T-shirt over my head.

I wondered about it last night when I was watching some BBC cop show with gang violence and dark, hooded bad guys. In real life, I seem to have a gut-level instinct of wariness around hooded bad guys — “for good reason,” my instinct says in my ear. But where did I get this? From television? I’ve never had a dark, hooded bad guy attack me in my whole life. Why the wariness? Where does this conception originate?

Is fear the origin of our prejudices, or is it ignorance or a lack of empathy? Surely, it isn’t greed, an unwillingness to share. Is there really a limited supply of good things in life, like equality, fairness, and kindness, and why would we be hesitant to see it given to everyone?

On another day in the country, over a hot cup of creamy caffeinated coffee, living in a small town, far away from crowded cities, the wind blowing across the prairie, I contemplate the future, hopefully.

Last modified Nov. 4, 2021

 

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