Gray Person

I am reading a book while E watches the new episode of Deadwood. It's a book I put aside weeks ago and just picked up again in the middle of a chapter to find this passage, told from the perspective of a very imaginative little boy:

What if the water that came out of the shower was treated with a chemical that responded to a combination of things, like your heartbeat, and your body temperature, and your brain waves, so that your skin changed color according to your mood? If you were extremely excited your skin would turn green, and if you were angry you'd turn red, obviously, and if you felt like shiitake you'd turn brown, and if you were blue you'd turn blue.

Everyone could know what everyone else felt, and we could be more careful with each other, because you'd never want to tell a person whose skin was purple that you're angry at her for being late, just like you would want to pat a pink person on the back and tell him, "Congratulations!"

Another reason it would be a good invention is that there are so many times when you know you're feeling a lot of something, but you don't know what the something is. Am I frustrated? Am I actually just panicky? And that confusion changes your mood, it becomes your mood, and you become a confused, gray person. But with the special water, you could look at your orange hands and think, I'm happy! That whole time I was actually happy! What a relief!

—found on page 163 of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer 

So that's what I am: a confused, gray person. I am so confused that I came home from my writing spot this afternoon and took a dreaded nap. (I despise napping; wasted time and all that.) And I am still tired. I could sleep through the night and next day and wake up probably still tired enough to nap again in my gray stupor on the couch. 

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One thought on “Gray Person

  1. slynne June 19, 2006 / 7:35 am

    I love that book, but this passage makes me think that most of us would be grey all the time, because even if I am happy, I’d still have a hint of anger at the way the poor in this country are pushed aside, and worry over an ill relative, and anxiety over the state of art.

    I think that the little boy’s invention would be better if different parts of us could be different colors, or if we could be tie dyed. Also, I think that to be an active writer is to be confused, for worlds are living within us, as Saleem Sainai once said. So be happy you are confused, I guess.

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