Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Think Pink

NOTE: The following story began in the front office of ICE CREATIVE CONSULTANTS, which is also my kitchen. What transpired was an adventure of self-awareness and personal discovery…

It was a Monday afternoon in Thompson. I had scattered an armload of mail across my kitchen table, while hoping for the sight of something other than notices for payments that were past due. The assortment of colorful envelopes offered little hope of actual correspondence. Yet suddenly, I realized something about the pile was amiss. A beige package lay in the midst of everything. It looked woefully out of place in the standard ration of bills and solicitations.
Carefully, I lifted the oversized mailer for a closer look. It had a Chardon return address, under an unfamiliar name. Disbelief took hold as I flipped it over. The other side was completely blank. After pondering the item for a moment, I ripped it open. Written on a note card was this simple greeting: "A gift for my favorite writer!"
I slipped a hand into the package and pulled out something outrageously pink. It was a novelty T-shirt, sized 2XL. The garment boasted a design that mimicked the generic portrayal of men and women on restroom signage. It was captioned with an unlikely phrase that matched the bright fabric perfectly. "GUYS IN PINK GET ALL THE CHICKS."
The present came with a handwritten note from a woman named Liz. "Dear Rod, I love reading ‘Thoughts At Large’ and wanted to show my appreciation for your work. This was a hot seller for Valentine’s Day at my shop on The Square. (I got one for my boyfriend and he loved it!) Take care, and keep scribbling those ‘Thoughts’ for the paper!" An e-mail address was included at the bottom.
I was dumbfounded. A pink T-shirt? PINK??? It had to be some sort of prank. I read the note again, but it still didn’t make sense. Was ‘Liz’ a code name for someone at work? Finally, I decided to draft a reply via the Internet. I took a seat at my PC and wrote: "Dear Liz, Thanks for your kind gift. I must admit being surprised. It is a pleasure to hear that you enjoy reading The Maple Leaf. Regards to you…"
A response came later in the evening. "Rod, I’m really glad the shirt was appreciated. It is so much more than just a perky garment. The tee screams ‘I am comfortable in the new millennium!’ I just knew you were enlightened and open minded enough to enjoy it! I can tell by your journalistic flair. You are the greatest!"
I sighed after reading her message. Something must’ve gotten lost in cyberspace. She seemed to be drifting away on a tangent of bogus logic. I tried again the next day. "Liz, I don’t quite grasp your meaning, but thanks for the compliment. I take pride in being a citizen voice for Geauga. My hope is to preserve the best of our local traditions, and promote shared values for the 21st-Century…"
Her answer came quickly: "Oh, my dear Rod!! The world is so full of negativity. Full of darkness. Full of charcoal gray, and slate black. I’m glad to know we have someone like you who can speak in positive terms. Everything about America is being squandered. Our resources and creativity are completely wasted. We need more color in the world, and more concerned people like you to lead the way toward tomorrow! Think Pink, my friend! Think Pink!!"
I was embarrassed. Composing a follow-up note proved to be difficult. "Liz, I sincerely hope this doesn’t offend you, but, I’m a traditionalist at heart. To claim otherwise would be intellectually dishonest. My outlook is quite Libertarian in nature. I’m just not one for social engineering, or political correctness… or pastel colors. My favorite hue is BLACK. Sorry!"
Her next communication sounded like a campaign speech. "Fight this bondage, brave soul! Your mind is in chains! Free yourself from monochromatic servitude. Punch your vote for pink before it’s too late!"
I was at the limit of my patience. "Look, Liz, I’ve got to admit that my personal philosophy is purely minimalist. I believe less is more. This is reflected in what I own. My truck is black. My motorcycle is black. I wear a black overcoat to work every day. I’ve got a closet full of black T-shirts. Even my coffee cups are black…"
She sent a message the next day. "Rod, This is so distressing! I could see you in that beautiful shirt with my mind’s eye…I thought it might even end up in The Leaf. But now I don’t know if I’ll ever buy a copy of the paper again. Your words are harsh, not gentle. Not ‘pink’ at all! Please tell me this is some sort of joke!!"
I reacted immediately. "Dear Liz, don’t stop reading our journal because of this conversation. You are valuable to us as a supporter of local ideas. I ask you to consider that our community is stronger because we can disagree as equals…"
Her reply took only minutes to arrive. "Dear Rod, Pink is more than a flashy color. It is a way of living. Imagine a pink world-view. If leaders around the globe wore pink, there would be no more war. Can you imagine fighting each other in pink uniforms?? No!! Rod, I believe you are genuinely trying to represent the county as a good steward. If you could just display some ‘Pink Pride’ for everyone to see, I’d feel like someone in Geauga really cares about making our corner of the world a better place. Otherwise, my faith in The Leaf is lost…"
I relented at last. "Liz, accept this as my guarantee. I promise to appear in public with the shirt you so kindly sent, before this day is through. I will also let the newspaper know what pink means to me. Thanks for your insightful comments. Best wishes to you!"
I sent my next column to the newspaper on Friday afternoon. By then, it had warmed enough to make the day perfect for outdoor activities. After filling a pail with soap and water, I proceeded to wash away salty remnants of winter from my pickup truck. The project had just begun when a portly neighbor, Phil, called from across our street. "Hey, Buddy, where’d you get that pink rag in your bucket?" Cheering, he lifted his Blue Ribbon Beer in a salute.
"It’s a long story," I shouted in reply, while scrubbing with the wadded-up shirt. "Don’t get me started!"