The Roots of Desire

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Welcome to another edition of SISTER SUNDAY dear readers. Today I am being forced to read (I mean, being given the privilege of reading) a book about redheads.

But first, I am told, I need to either tell a few Alissa stories or share a few of my favorite Alissa qualities. I'll go with favorite qualities: 1. She does a really good blind Mary impression. I forced her to play Little House on the Prairie over and over again when we were children and I decided that even though Mary was the oldest, I should be Laura because she's the writer, which left Alissa to play the part of Mary while I stood around saying things like, "I'll be your eyes Mary." 2. She has a delightful way of conning people into doing things for her and bringing her things on trays, all without appearing to be excessively manipulative. I respect that. 3. She's the only person I know who could make a joke about a baked potato sound funny.

Today's book, "To get to the bottom of our perceptions and experience of red hair, she explores the ancient legends of Lilith and Set, the traditions that depict both Judas and Mary Magdalene as redheads, and an Eve in London's St. Paul's Cathedral that has blond hair before the Fall and red hair after it. She visits "witch camp" in Vermont, a high-end hair salon in Manhattan, and Emily Dickinson's house, where a carefully preserved lock of the poet's red hair transforms Roach's image of her. Along the way, Roach (Another Name for Madness) makes some poignant points about what it means to belong to the redheaded minority in Western society, making gently suggestive comparisons to more overt patterns of prejudice."

Shallow thoughts:

  • My sister has informed me that reading today's book about redheads (or as she calls them, "my people") will help me understand her better. She told me this, and I smiled and nodded and pretended like I don't already spend every waking minute of my life trying to understand her. But, as it turns out, I did learn something new about her from this book.

  • I learned that redheads feel pain more intensely than non-redheads. Which I guess explains why she acts like she's on her death bed every time she's the slightest bit sick - she walks around saying things like, "Death . . . is. . . imminent," she request (demands) that people bring her things on trays, she tries to make people sit by her bed and read to her and then when they do she says, "What - you're not even going to do accents?"

  • Fun fact about redheads: In 1912 phrenology revealed that redheads make the best waitresses. - I beg to differ. I have spent years trying to get my sister to bring me something on a tray, to balance out all the times that I have brought her stuff on trays, but the response I get seems to run somewhere along the lines of, "I don't bring people things on trays. Other people bring me things on trays." So, I will have to disagree with that fun fact and say a more accurate statement would be, redheads want the whole world to be their waitresses.

So, what have I learned about my sister from reading this book? That she will always whine like a character on Thirtysomething when she's sick, and that "her people" have some fascinating quirks.