When I was in kindergarten, there was a little girl who could not, or would not, color within the lines. Because of this, she was held back from first grade. It was a scandal amongst her fellow students. I learned my lesson well: Always color within the lines. Or else.
And so I did. I've spent a lifetime coloring within the lines.
When I asked for a paper doll set for Christmas, I was advised to ask for a bow and arrow with a suction cup tip, instead. By Santa, himself. OK. Bow and arrow it was.
When I aspired to be one of the Von Trapp children in "The Sound of Music," it was suggested that Daniel Boone might be a better role model. I was given a coonskin cap and told to go out and play.
When I told my dad that instead of college, I wanted to be a street mime, he advised me this was for (homophobic expletive deleted). Liberal Arts it was. I lasted three months. Then I had a nervous breakdown.
I've been married twice. I never played around. Both my wives left me. They were bored.
I learned how to be liked, to always be a "nice guy."
I worked at the same job for 26 years. I discovered early on never to rock the boat. Never make waves. Though I was often told to "think outside the box," I understood that this was the last thing I should actually do if I wanted to keep my job. Creativity of any kind was a no-no. I kissed ass. Asses. Multiple asses. Simultaneously. I had one male boss who would daily ask me, "How do I look? Do you like what I'm wearing? Do you like my haircut?" I'd just nod and say, "It looks very nice," instead of inquiring how he had managed to hide his significant bald spot.
I tried Internet dating for a while and then gave it up when one woman I saw a few times told me that I wasn't "Alpha male" enough for her. I never was a "bad boy."
Over the years, I've been troubled by numerous mysterious illnesses—headaches that wouldn't go away, a pain in the jaw that I was convinced was cancer, and chronic rashes.
I've always admired those who chose to color outside the lines, maybe because I never did.
I live alone now. I accept it. I am unemployed. I often act on impulse. There are people who don't like me. I no longer care. I play the accordion. And the fucking banjo. I take acting class. I recently bought a trombone. I smoke a pipe. I have a woman's name tattooed above my heart. My turntable is always spinning. I buy fedoras and polka dot shirts. I have an electric train set. I write plays. I drink a wee bit. I paint. I even got into a bar fight once. There are fewer lines.
I still wonder what happened to that little girl who could not or would not color within the lines. Is she happy? Does she care?