Bobby had more GI Joes. His gear included camouflage oil paint that we'd smear all over our faces and laugh.
Cobra infantry covered a full square of the concrete drive, black and blue, ready to stomp behind their commander.
He was fair and his freckles stood out on the bridge of his nose like milk chocolate chips. The beetles squirmed over each other in bags that hung from the sapling maples marking the front. A hornet buzzed in over our heads, swooping in on us for the occasional lop-sided recon as we set up for battle.
Bobby pushed his yellow-white bangs off of his sweaty pink forehead and raised his index finger to the sky.
Scarlett smothered in my fist before I set her free; she flew too close to the sun without swivel grip.
I fight my true self each and every time I swipe my badge and pull on a company issued scrub top and pants; it's wearing me down. I wonder at it, and just as fast, I let those thoughts flitter up, up and away as I wrap up my hair and pull the blue head cover down over my ears. I stomp away doubt as I step into the pale blue, often over-sized, shoe covers and trudge the controlled hallway that reeks of sterility.
Procedure does not mix well with passion and innovation is the root cause of deviation. There is no room for individuality and no tolerance for variation. Conformity is the expectation and mediocrity is promoted – literally. Perception makes it true. But don't take my word for it, because I sure wouldn't.
My broccoli remains green. But I can not say, without a doubt, that my green is the green you see – as if there were a standard green we all know to be true and the same no matter whose eyes are looking at it. And just because it's written and approved per standard operating procedure doesn't make it right or true, either, no matter what color paper you choose. But I think that's a secret only the free thinkers that lurk among the work culture are privy to. Shh…
I tell myself that I was not always like this, that I am not like this, but this…this is what I've become. I am a working stiff – vacant and used up – a shell. Even my personal life has been reduced to mere castings of what I used to be; I am living the American nightmare.