by Ed Malin
Lennox LaZuli had a problem with his temper. That was what adults kept telling him.
The trouble was, things were seldom black and blue because they tended to be white and black.
Lennox’s family travelled a lot. His father, who was of Cuban-Chinese origin, was Vice-President of Sales for a company that kept buying up all its competitors and was therefore constantly changing names and hard to keep track of unless one really cared about mergers. His mother, of Iraqi, Polish and Alabama origins, sometimes referred to herself as an I.P.A. In addition to these multicultural underpinnings, Lennox was told following an emergency appendectomy that his blood type was O negative, i.e. the universal donor. For those who really cared about blood donation, this meant Lennox could easily and without harming anyone give his blood to those of types A+, A-, B+, B-, AB+, AB-, O+ and O-
Lennox did not have strong altruistic tendencies. Lennox was angry at the human race. This may have been because whenever his family moved due to his father’s job, he ended up in a new school with people who were not aware how thin the coat of social varnish on their prejudices really was.
At his last school, in a part of the South where the one thing they had going for them was their ability to detect and make fun of Alabama accents, one youth had guessed part of Lennox’s genetic makeup and decided to nickname him “the bitin’ chigger”. Lennox promptly broke the youth’s nose, which at least fixed the poor ignoramus’s drawl for a few weeks. In the Principal’s office, Lennox accepted his upcoming detentions as a good place to work on his calculus homework “so I can practice differentiating for constructive reasons”. By which he meant that racism served no function, was pointless and was less than tangential. Such students often had more fun with numbers than with people.
In his school after this one, Lennox would meet a girl. Everything would go fine until she would ask him to the Prom. Actually, on Prom night a slight problem would manifest in that someone (the girl’s brothers) would slash the tires on Lennox’s car. Fortunately, no one would think to slash the tires on the girl’s motorcycle, which she then would use to drive them both to the event. They would arrive with identical blow-outs, and proceed to have a great time dancing.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. If some folks hate what they fear and fear what they don’t know, and some dude diverse enough to sing the whole “We Are The World” song by himself shows up, man that’s a lot of fear for those cats. Scared like cats, indeed.
When he looked in the mirror, Lennox just didn’t want to be so blue. Could it be fixed? Do we dare to consult conventional wisdom? A little conventional wisdom is a dangerous thing, as some writer quipped in 1709. It might as well have been the Pope for all the power it had to influence earthly events. Anyway, it was only Alexander Pope and Lennox Lazuli had at his disposal many sources of cultural wisdom. It was at this time that his father, on a sales trip that aimed to help destroy the rain forests faster, had taken the whole family along on a voyage to South America. Did Lennox really believe in herbal medicines that purge bad intentions? We don’t know this. We do know that he was already sick of the petty people who could not digest rainbows. By which, Lennox meant that if he could just make himself a little more simple, then life among simple people would be more simple and feel less like a war zone. In Latin, this might be construed as Simplicius Simplicissimus, Stupidus. And how would the healers found in the rain forest approach this situation? They would try, per Lennox’s request, to tone down his spectrum, to remove all the blonde, canary, and related hues.
There is a ceremony for this. There is an herb. And then, during the trance state, it’s kind of like cutting one of the wires on the ticking explosive device. Lennox, who was entranced, did not realize that his healers were a few degrees out of rotation. When he woke up, he was missing all the blue in his life. And really, either way, that meant no green, folks. Green is what you get when you mix yellow and blue.
What was life back in school like, then. Was it any better? Without green, it wasn’t as full of growth. He could see the forest, but not the trees. There was no color of money.
Meanwhile, Lennox’s mind jumped back into his skin. He was sitting with his date, on her couch, the evening of the Prom. He had met her parents, who were nice to him, except that they kept asking who he wanted to win the ball game. This was not on his radar, so he said he was a winner-picker and winked so they could make their own assumptions. The parents went into the kitchen, and his date excused herself to powder her nose. All this stuff happening (and about to happen, though he didn’t know about the car tires yet) and, yes, he was wearing a bowtie. It was then, when he was actively withdrawing into himself, that he felt a tug at his pant leg. A voice, low to the ground, was saying “Hey, hey can you answer this for me?”
Not sure if there were gnomes walking around this house, Lennox was afraid to investigate. But, when he opened his eyes and looked down, he saw a mini, oh what do you call it, you know, that really small dog, which had his cuff in its mouth. Lennox breathed a sigh of relief. Dogs can’t talk with their mouths full.
“I’m a ventriloquist,” said the dog.
Lennox tried to stand up, but suddenly became worried about tearing the rented tux.
“You’re a dog,” he sneezed.
“Listen, we don’t have a lot of time.”
“Relax. I’m just a dog. OK, do you know what parishioners are?”
Lennox thought about it. “You mean, Frenchmen?”
“That’s a good one. You must be the king of sit-down comedy. Oh snap, she’s coming back.”
“Church. You’re talking about church.”
“Maybe for you. The dog is the most faithful of animals.” And with that, the dog winked and bolted out of the room.
His date had returned. She extended to him a hand on which was a satin glove. Was it blue? It was off-blue, a little out of focus. Definitely some kind of fairly normal color which he felt like he hadn’t seen in so long that it was brand new.
He could see again. Though, riding on the back of the motorcycle, he occasionally closed his eyes. His date gunned the motor, refusing to lose any more time by stopping at changing traffic lights. During one speed-up, Lennox felt the flower pinned to his tux spring loose and arc through the air. As he turned his head to the side, the flower flew like a wedding bouquet. Did he really see a flying squirrel jump up and grab that boutonniere in its mouth? If so, there would be wedding bells sounding throughout the rodent world.
It seemed they arrived at the Prom practically before they had left the house. Striding in with hair completely unpermed, their futures were by no means charted.
He thought to himself, is she really the one? She cared enough to let nothing stop us from coming to this date. She may or may not know that I can’t see certain colors. Is she out to get me like everyone else, but better at hiding it? Even if she loves me, I am in fact the universal donor so doesn’t that mean I should dance with anyone I want?
It was a night of balloons, as are all Proms. The room was just dark enough that no one could stereotype anyone else. Lennox LaZuli felt he could finally breathe.