Posted May 16 ’12

Dear Reader,

You pride yourself on your ability to read and understand other people, don’t you?  Of course you do.  And you are not alone.  Show me one man, woman or child, born without a self-proclaimed ability to spot a kindred spirit or to ferret out the less desirable of our species.  Stop anyone on the street and ask them, “Are you a good judge of integrity, rectitude, and moral fiber?”  Watch them puff up with confidence; chances are you’ll hear a story or two about spotting the rotten apple or championing the true-blue underdog.    And you are right there with them, front and center, with your head held high.  You’ve got countless examples of your expertise in appraising your fellow citizen.  You could write a book.  Several books.  Maybe you should think about getting an agent. If there’s one thing you know, it’s people.  No one pulls the wool over your eyes.

Lucky you, so confident in your Geiger counter ability to spot radioactive human behavior.  You network with talented, like-minded souls and reinforce each other’s certainty that you do, in fact, have it all figured out.  It’s all about Us and Them, isn’t it?  You are smug, very secure on your side of the fence.  And you can easily spell out human nature using your simple ABCs.

I know how you feel because I once walked amongst you.  I too categorized people based on political affiliation, social standing, and personal hygiene.  I was a quick study, lightning fast.  Sometimes it was as simple as an awkwardly constructed sentence in the course of a conversation,  or your enthusiasm for a mediocre book or, even worse, a poor selection of footwear. Cars, haircuts, earnest tattoos, I was convinced that each one of these things clearly established your identity.  Every peg had a hole.

Back in those days, I banished most of you from my kingdom due to a perceived lack of intelligence (yours) but some of you were welcomed to my inner sanctum.  Once upon a time, my trust was easily won with the right combination of words.  Pick a topic of import, speak passionately, introduce a surprising insight, make me laugh, and I was yours.  As a young artist I was particularly susceptible to flattery.   If you could talk about my work with even mild enthusiasm, place me in an important historical context, there was an excellent chance I would fall in love with you.  Easily read, I was often fooled.

Norman's inner sanctum

And then one glorious morning, after suffering countless emotional concussions, I awoke with an incredible realization.  I AM A TERRIBLE JUDGE OF CHARACTER.  I don’t understand people.  I don’t know why they do what they do or say what they say.  None of it makes sense to me and it never will.  And with this realization has come incredible peace.  I don’t get it.  I’ll never get it.  You people are very confusing but it’s okay.  I am free.  Everything is going to be okay.  I encourage you to carry on.

Sincerely Yours,

Norman Wentworth, a terrible judge of character

Katie Arnoldi as Norman Wentworth