People sneak up on us. They surprise us. Sometimes beautifully and positively, and sometimes not so much.
Often when I meet men, they seem to make an effort to appear very sweet, sensitive, and attentive. Generally they turn out to be more self involved and disingenuous than at first blush. Not always, of course. And this could be an LA affectation. “Deep down I’m really shallow,” or some such thing.
But recently I met an even more interesting beast. The kind who paints himself a warrior. An animal. He claims not to care about what other people think or want. He is predatory and self-aggrandizing. But guess what? Directly beneath this veneer is hand-blown glass. An eggshell composition. He wants desperately to be understood in spite of himself. This person wants to be swaddled by someone.
Am I that person? Do I even want to be? I highly doubt it, at least not in this instance, and that is not why I broach the subject here.
I keep thinking about Aesop’s fable:
The wolf put on the fleece and went off in search of a flock of sheep. It spied a flock of sheep just as the sun was setting and approached the flock. Just as it was about to pounce on a lamb, a shepherd came by looking for a sheep to slaughter for supper. Thinking the disguised wolf was a sheep, the shepherd quickly grabbed and killed the wolf.
So it would appear we are all disrobed in one form or another. The mask always comes off at the end of Scooby Doo. Even though the shepherd had no idea that he killed a wolf, the wolf was essentially outed and our odd sense of equilibrium, or justice, prevailed in the end.
So why do we all wear our costumes? And we do, you know. It almost seems that we literally present our anti-self, our inner opposite, when we first meet some people. Perhaps it’s like having curly hair but wanting straight hair and vice versa. Perhaps we want to be perceived as tough and resilient if we are truly sensitive and soft, and perhaps we want to be perceived as delicate and emotional if we are inherently more desensitized and crusty.
And much like the wolf and the shepherd in Aesop’s fable, without really trying, we all see and are all seen. Eventually. But we also must always continue to play our roles, wear our costumes. And not necessarily for anyone else. Not really because of how we want to be perceived, but for ourselves – how we perceive ourselves.
Kind of like orzo. Most people think it’s rice. It might think it’s rice. It acts like rice. But orzo is undeniably pasta. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Watch out for false prophets? Maybe, but mostly I think it’s important to know that everyone might be a prophet and very little is actually false.
Orzo Salad with Tomatoes, Feta, Spinach and Mint
Serves 8 to 10
12 ounces orzo
2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup olive oil
¼ cup walnut oil
1 1/2 cups crumbled seasoned feta cheese
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 /2 cup chopped red onion
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
1 handful fresh spinach, lightly steamed
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt & pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water, with the 2 tablespoons of oil, to a boil. Add orzo and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse with cold water. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in oil, vinegar, lemon, garlic, spinach, feta, onion, tomatoes, mint, salt & pepper. Refrigerate and serve cold.