Colors of the Mind
Their depression was such, their understanding of it had progressed to the extent that they had come to attribute colors to it. Purple, rose, pink, yellow - could have been roses. Black and navy blue were fearsome signals of a depth at which one would not want to dip to, yet it had been known to happen with unforeseeable consequences. Those who had been there could communicate simply by wearing specific colors signaling their moods, or was that considered too blatant on themselves or their sensitive surroundings then by discretely having color schemes printed onto handkerchiefs and business cards. “Call me rose” might mean “don’t call me when I’m blue.” Upscale might blend with uplifted, which in turn might be seen as bona fide or a mere attempt to signal “anti dip” or “anti dep,” a sort of denial that horrors of the mind were not only real but here to stay.
She’s untamed, say rumors. Unspoken for in times of wilderness of the mind and the spirit, as elusive and unreliable as they come. Which makes her all the more desirable and attractive in the eyes of the settled. They sniff around for her perfume, which is always somewhere out there in the corridors long after she has evaporated. It’s the scent of luxury, of hard to get. So unavailable is this lady that the talk of those claiming to have spent the night with her is dubious, which means technically that she might be a virgin, although this actually isn’t very plausible.
She, for one, puts the mark on the place as do several others. Then something beyond the forces of the individuals happen to make the place all the merrier, the grandeur all the more noteworthy. The host flies at high altitudes, then what a downer it must be to awake the next morning to an empty house ribbed of its magic. How difficult must it not be to climb out of bed, rising to a new dawn, then go back to work and ever so slowly contemplating another of these climatic experiences. Yet, the party of the frivolous and untamed is hardly fixed to any given location, it is movable and in a sense ever ongoing.
For all those colors of the mind we celebrate that the ultimate default may be postponed indefinitely. Those who fall behind, declining then eventually refusing to attend, there are but shrugs - they all know what this means.
The colors, once again at play, are causing trouble. What was intended to be a signal has started talking back, as the colors take on a life of their own. Recipients sometimes react in ways not envisaged, saying things such as “don’t get all blue on me.” The word “all” is unwelcome, when all one wanted to say that one was “blue,” not “all blue.” To the person who is too depressed to go out, yet decides to do so as part of a convention based upon letting colors speak for themselves, it can be a major setback and quite a devastating experience to be confronted by such untimely remarks. Even worse, there are reported examples of colors having turned certain people’s mood around, causing those who were genuinely depressed to feel outnumbered. Albeit such reported incidents are few, it is not good for the party circuit as such, making some commentators doubt whether this arrangement will survive long enough to become much more than a fad.
Did they understand the value of this, how far detached from and raised above pure symbolism this was? A codex so fine, so detailed that one would be able to find a partner or a friend for the night just by looking at her dress or his tie? The nuances, all agreed upon in advance, would virtually guarantee that a just an exact match of colors would suffice to ensure compatibility of the spirit. He who was, say, down to the extent that his spirit was overburdened in the extreme, would not have to worry about finding a companion too outspoken or demanding. Whereas she who was in the process of recovery would not need fear a setback due to having spent one prolonged night with a true moaner. If an individual could barely manage to hold hands, no words spoken, that too could be arranged. As could mutual star glancing or television watching, or what have you. Most of the kindled spirits would be satisfied to dance slowly through the night, cheek to cheek.
One would have to look quite far for a more sensitive crowd, their skin not thick, yet they harbored qualities of a deeper, more subtle, and often surprisingly sophisticated kind.
Those standing on the street looking up are waiving at those positioned at the balcony looking down. They should obviously be glad if their greetings were returned, yet the upstaged individuals seem in no hurry to even acknowledge that they’ve seen what is coming their way. Which of course they have, as their vanity will always lead them to notice whenever someone is paying attention. They, too, see what others are doing, but do so mainly to learn and avoid being surpassed by some unnoticed development within fashion. Those on the street may eventually tire of this ritual, moving on to more worthwhile pursuits. Yet, others will come and repeat the very same pattern, giving those on the balcony - whether those who were there first or those having replaced them - further chances to respond.
Some people prefer leaving from the fire escape, which may be related to their shyness or their fear of being rolled over by some sensation seeking journalist. These parties are in some ways similar to Alcoholics Anonymous, insofar as admittance is restricted to those who are depressed. There are those who do not want to admit to being depressed, yet others who are afraid that attending such a party may seem incompatible with their having called in sick. Colors are not restricted to items and clothing, balloons are sometimes seen hanging just underneath the ceiling. Reporters have noticed this and gradually come to understand where these people hang out.
Then how were the colors defined. It must have been a demanding process requiring some pretty lengthy and detailed preliminary negotiations. An accurate codex or codification would presumably be better than a rougher model, yet too many nuances would make things very confusing and could erode the possibility of finding anyone to one’s liking. If people thought that only one in a thousand would do, then thousands of people would be required to compose a meaningful party crowd. One in ten might be a bit more realistic, although probably too rough to lead to successful matching. Alas, it would have to be somewhere between one in ten and one in a hundred.
Then there was the issue of people’s ability to discern identical colors equally. Apart from the colorblind, it could not be ignored that people would perceive colors very differently, causing some to claim that color 105 was actually color 134. If one person asked someone to dance in anticipation of a close enough match, it would be unfortunate to say the least were the lady to decline as she perceived there to be an outright mismatch. Numerical symbols accompanying the colors would be an effective remedy, but would take all of the subtlety out of the entire concept - an outright depressing thought.
The stairs from the Hatton Street entrance led to her apartment, which to the unwitting stranger would appear no less accessible than the average New York equivalent. The building had rather lax security, the doorman was usually tired, the concierge too easily convinced. Yet, the amount of people attending the fifth floor parties was restricted, and those who had dumped in uninvited could be counted on one hand.
Although such individuals weren’t turned away at the door or even frowned upon, they would usually leave within a few minutes of having confronted an odd and twisted reality: People dancing cheek to cheek, men dancing with women, women dancing with women, men were dancing with men, other couples sitting silently in the backroom holding hands while sipping their drinks without saying much, if anything at all. No one appeared to be enjoying themselves, laughter was not heard; it resembled a doomsday crowd. The colors these people wore spoke volumes about them, yet a stranger lacking the means to decipher the colors would naturally assume that none of these strange outfits and people made any sense at all.
A closer look upon the attendants would reveal a blend of social status with emphasis upon the upper middle class. Quite a few judges, lawyers and doctors, a mathematician, a couple of actresses and one movie director, two taxi drivers and three schoolteachers, one librarian. Marbelle, the hostess, was privy to information about them all, yet hardly bothered with such details, as the social status of her guests was virtually irrelevant in this context. All that mattered was people’s sincerity and honesty about their mental status, people should come here to find solace and companionship, not to prey on unsuspecting guests. A few sexual predators had tried to use such occasions to set up a trap, but were spotted and dealt with quite harshly by the doormen, who were physically fit and by no means depressed.
The colors, albeit matched precisely, could take on a life on their own. While each of the nuances had been announced a priori and planned in minute detail, the synergies between them were unpredictable with numerous color combinations allowing for unexpected statements to occur. A woman looking for a man to match her color would have to confront many other colors, and new schemes would occur. One could ultimately ask who was in charge around here - the host and her guests, or the colors and the schemes they formed?
It is hardly an unknown phenomenon that one ventures out into that which is believed to be relatively simple and safe, only to encounter unexpected complications en route. To avoid such confusion, the guests had been reminded to please wear their colors discretely, do not wear a blue dress - a set of blue earrings, a necklace, a ring or a bowtie will send the message.
As featured here....
- Novelty - Stories & Perspectives (October 2010)
Novelty Stories & Perspectives, my monthly literary newsletter, consists of two parts: (1) A brief email with what is on my mind and an overview of new ideas and concepts that Ive been working on; (2)...