A Random Image

Jett Superior laid this on you on || October 11, 2011 || 12:06 am

Orange wasn’t always my favorite color; I think at one time blue was. Most of my adult life, though, the distinction of favorite has been assigned to orange.

One time a mess of us were out drinking and I found myself alone at the table with The Prime Minister. “So,” he said to me, “if you were a crayon, what color would you be?”


“Why orange?”

“Because orange is vibrant and beautiful and draws the eye. It’s unique, but think about it: You can pair any color with it and the combination doesn’t look bad. It can stand alongside anything and work with it. It can stand alone and be even more striking.”

The Prime Minister looked alarmed. “That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard, Jett.”

His reaction surprised me. What was so sad about it? I didn’t get it then. I still don’t get it. I’ve never asked him to explain and I don’t know why –me with my annoyingly incessant questioning of every last thing– I haven’t needed that explanation.

Today Mathias said to me, “Hey mom….I’d like to show you a video that I found touching.” I’m so astounded by the person he is. He’s twelve and he is near-about six feet tall and he has this newly-minted manvoice in which he uses words like ‘touching’ to describe emotional states and not what he’d like to be doing to girls. It’s wholly incredible.

Well of course I found it touching, too.

I’m orange, through and through. I’m not going to be grey for anyone, and fuck any silly people that think I could even possibly do such a thing. Not only am I not going to be grey so that someone else won’t be freaked out, I plan on infusing the world with as much vibrancy as I can possibly muster.

I’m unafraid. You be unafraid, too. Go on and be pink or vermilion or blue or green. Not only that: Draw the color up and out in everything and everyone you possibly can. Life is very, very short, despite our longest and hardest days that seem to be unending.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

My friend Keith wandered; I understood this, I am a wanderer too. He thought big thinks and he poured them out to me in letter after letter and then e-mail after e-mail. For each of all my unending questions, he had twenty. He was mild and brilliantly dry-humored and regal and kind. He was the guy who brought peace with him into a room, but he was not ever at peace himself. He was okay with this, in his way.

Keith was closeted the whole of his life, and now he is gone, and we –his friends– speak freely of his secrets because in the big scheme of things his orientation and even his illness didn’t matter. I just wish he had known that, had felt it in his middle and rested easy in the love that so many people carried for him, rather than worrying about currying scorn for who he caressed or kissed or bedded. He lived with our friend Stephen for a while, and Stephen tells me of how Keith would scramble, would put a dozen feet between him and anyone in the room if he chanced to get a cut, a scrape; he never let a drop of blood hit the ground.

He built easels that were every bit as artistic as the paintings he created atop them. He started doing this out of necessity: Who the fuck can wag a seven-foot easel from one coast to the other on their back? Eventually he settled back in Memphis into a nice little –if slightly ramshackle– midtown Victorian. These are some of my best memories of us, the ones in that house. One easel he built out of good cherry and I was blown away at the craftsmanship of it, all hand-rubbed and gleaming. He wanted me to take it, I refused. It was too grand. It was too perfect. He was a narrow-assed, mostly-broke artist. He needed the coin it would bring.

Of course I wish I had taken it. He was right; he could have built another. And another and another and another until the virus took over, shifting to syndrome, turning mean and taking his motor control, his lucid thought.

I just wish that I’d known that the last beer we were having together was the last beer were were having together. I would’ve made it last longer. I would’ve ordered us another round. I would have played one more game of Galaga with him in Young Avenue Deli. I would have leaned my head against that broad, bony shoulder one more again and told him another on-the-spot story. He turned my stories into paintings sometimes. Rich ladies in Memphis have my stories hanging on their walls and I miss my friend because forty is not at all an appropriate age for a man’s dying.

BKP, 1971-2011

18 worked it out »

  1. schmutzie 10.11.2011

    May he rest in peace.

  2. angelynn 10.11.2011

    That was beautiful. The thought, colors, and words. I’ve missed your writing. Thank you.

  3. EarnestGirl 10.11.2011

    You are gorgeous. You know that right? Out-loud and divine, orange makes perfect sense. Orange like the robes of monks, and marigolds, and the bright zest of citrus.
    {I’ve hidden inside the colour black for too many years. It felt serious, safe, easily melt-into-the shadows-able. I am learning to wear the rainbow. But not yellow. I’m still making peace with yellow.}

    Your friend. His art/your stories on walls. His heart shuttered. We do need – must – live out loud. Especially our love. The what-if-we-knew-it-was-the-lasts? They are a torment. And useful only in so much as the inform us in the Now to show up, listen to the whispers, act out of love not fear. He knew your head rested there, of that I am certain.

  4. Laurie 10.11.2011

    It should surprise you not at all that orange is my favorite color (I say “sunset colors”, sometimes) and green is my second, and the one I call my power color.

    I look forward to your first beer. Let’s try to remember to think of Keith then? I hope he found it, I hope he won’t mind that this is a nice reminder to try to find some tiny place of peace before it’s impossible.


  5. Laurie 10.11.2011

    Um, “Our first beer.” I’m fairly certain I wasn’t around for the other option. ;)

  6. Jett Superior 10.11.2011

    Look at all of you, my pretty laydehs, coming here to love and pat on me in the dead of the night.

    Thank you so much.

  7. Summer 10.11.2011

    just lovely, and now in the pictures of my head you will be swathed in orange, drinking huge beers in a seedy bar with your friend.

  8. Cheryl 10.11.2011

    I’m not reading much in the ’sphere. Glad I came here today. I just lost a friend too. Maybe we can heal together. I think orange & hot pink are a great combination.

  9. the muskrat 10.11.2011

    The orange video reminds me of “Pleasantville.”

  10. Deb Rox 10.11.2011

    Much love to you, and to the memory of your friend. Beautifully observed. xo

  11. fridita (just_a_grrl) 10.11.2011

    I love the way you stack thoughts and words on top of one another, Miss Jett. Something tells me your friend Keith might have felt the same.

    Thank you for sharing your colors and your friend and for posting this one at juuuuust the right time, too…

  12. Jess 10.11.2011

    My love goes out to you and all of Keith’s loved ones tonight. He was lucky to have an orangey dame like you as his friend…

  13. TwoBusy 10.12.2011

    A couple of years ago, when I was repainting his bedroom, I gave my son the freedom to choose any color he wanted. He chose – and I painstakingly applied multiple coats of – a color we refer to as “postnuclear orange.”

    You’ve just given me a very different way to look (and think about) that orange.

    Thank you.

    (and I’m very, very sorry to hear about your friend.)

  14. Chibi Jeebs 10.12.2011

    Dammit, woman. Every time I think I’ve read the best thing to come out of your fingertips, you bowl me over with a new one. Adore that video.

    Love and peace to Keith and to you all, his family. <3

  15. Ginger 10.12.2011

    Yup, orange totally fits. You are TOTALLY orange, in all the best ways.

    And I’m so sorry about the loss of your friend.

  16. Andrea 10.15.2011

    Gorgeous post; what a great tribute and memory of your friend. Thank you for sharing.

  17. Bejewell 11.4.2011

    Thank god for people like you, who bring color into an otherwise dreary, no-color world. Your friend Keith was lucky to know you, and I am, too.

  18. Holmes 11.9.2011

    I am so sorry about your friend, Jett. May we treat every beer with friends as if it were the last.


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