Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Autobiography of Someone Else - 3

To recognize that another might impede one's progress – is that not respect? To deflect them, to wrestle them aside – that's how we acknowledge each other's existence and thus our shared humanity.

And so it was that if I met my older sister in the hallway, we'd shove each other to the wall. Automatically, almost listlessly. It was a gesture of greeting more than anything else.

I'd go downstairs and to the kitchen pantry to examine the glorious row of fortified sugary cereals occupying nearly an entire shelf: Apple Jacks, Froot Loops, Peanut Butter Crunch, Franken Berry, Trix, Cap'n Crunch, Lucky Charms, Cocoa Pebbles, Boo Berry, Honeycomb, Crunch Berries, Count Chocula and Fruity Pebbles in magnificent, cartoon fluorescence: screaming orange, purple, lime-green, lipstick pink and thousand-flushes blue. It was all so beautiful I was often at a loss for what to do. I'd try combining cereals, but the result was always somehow less than the sum of its parts. It left behind a murky pool of milk not rainbow-hued but gray-brown-blue, the color of space-age toxic waste. I'd lift the bowl to my lips and drink it dutifully, like a sacred elixir, and feel the unholy solution of vitamins and minerals and artificial flavors and colors, the red 40, the niacinamide, the pyridoxine hydrochloride, the blues 1 and 2, the sulfiting agents, the annato color, the BHT, the trisodium phosphate, the tricalcium phosphate, the yellows 5 and 6 all the rest of it penetrate each and every molecule of my being.

And yet I was not happy. It began to dawn on me that every waking hour of the day deepened my indoctrination into American dissatisfaction: to have it all and then some but to still crave more.