...I’ve done something to my body that I can’t hide. Several months ago I was between shows and figured it would be an excellent time to try out a new mehndi design on my hand. Mehndi, for the unindoctrinated, is the art of painting on the skin with henna - a natural plant-based dye. The practice is rooted in Africa, India, and the Middle East, and used on the skin to create temporary tattoo-like designs or to dye the hair or scalp, usually for wedding ceremonies and the like. Or if you’re me, it’s used to create designs on the skin that last a good two-plus weeks with no hope of getting them to fade early, no matter what you try.
Now, I am no stranger to mehndi. I implemented my first design in the summer of 2008:
And I loved it. The process is slow and meditative, and something I thoroughly enjoy if I have loads of time and can limit movement to allow for everything to dry properly. The result is, to me, a secret delight - it’s usually hidden by footwear, but one can catch glimpses around the edges of my mary-janes if they’re looking hard enough.
So I happened to have loads of time, a good book, and some bravado available one day, and decided it was time to give it another go, this time on my hand. Far more bold, far more daring; my own little joy and a temporary eff-you to societal norms. And achieved a rather striking result:
Which would have been juuuuust fine, had it not been for two things:
1) I stupidly didn’t realize how much I talk with my hands - especially when giving science demonstrations at the museum. File that one under “Horton, Duh.” And as we’re all well-aware, little dudes like to ask questions about things they don’t understand in loud voices. So in an effort to be encouraging of constructive dialogue about differences, I ended up explaining the science of henna as often as I explained the importance of surface area in chemical reactions.
2) the call I got from my agent the next week, requesting I audition for the lead in a new network sitcom pilot (more about this in another post). You see, the thing with henna is that when it fades, it doesn’t do so uniformly - so when it gets to a certain point of faded-ness, one looks like a burn victim and unintentionally alarms the kindly, beloved casting director.
And thus the lesson I learned the hard way is this: not all of us have the privilege of outwardly flying our freak flags. Therefore, I must keep it (whatever “it” happens to be after any given flight of fancy) in a place where it can be covered. Even if it’s only temporary. Bah.