Beyond the Pale

Maud’s posted a great little ditty on pallor. But I must assure Ms. Newton that she don’t have jack on my albino ass. For years, I was terrified of wearing shorts. I wore T-shirts to apartment complex swimming pools, and I resented the fact that, no matter how powerful the sunblock, I’d return home with ruddy, blistered flesh. Beyond this brutal reddening, I was hopelessly etiolated.

P.E. was always the toughest period to get through. Beyond my scrawny, clumsy self being among the last selected when softball or basketball teams were established on brutal Lamarckian terms, I was subjected to merciless ridicule about my skin that all seems quite silly now. I was terrified of changing out of the school-sanctioned T-shirt and shorts, back into my regular threads. And no matter how silent I remained, the jocks and their jocose acolytes berated me without letup. I was called ghost, freaky, whitey, paleface.

The turning point came, oddly enough, with the Goth movement. I was never into Peter Murphy or those other silly, angst-ridden singers. But the Goth girls would come up to me and say, “You are so Goth.” At first, I thought they were referring to a towering spire that had somehow affixed itself to my back. But it soon became apparent to me that these young vixens, with their colored hair, tenebrous deportment, and passionate piercings, intended to compliment me.

When I moved to the City, the weather certainly worked to my advantage. But since the unspoken policy here was to accept everyone, eventually I had no problems wearing shorts on rare sunny days. I had no problem at all being Mr. Paleface.

They may be honest in Brooklyn, but I’m convinced that some people aren’t meant to turn tawny. And that’s a good thing. I’m also convinced that healthy pallor is one of the most underrated attributes of beauty. Particularly in a lady.


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