STUDY IN BLUE
George Arnold got up at six thirty Wednesday morning. He had set the alarm for 6.45 but his inner clock had woken him at six. He lay under his warm eiderdown for half an hour, thinking through his plans for the day, then he jumped out of bed and ran for the bathroom. He allowed himself an extra ﬁve minutes in the shower since he was up so early and he soaped his obese body thoroughly, lifting up his hanging belly to lather underneath, making sure he was scrupulously clean.
He shaved his underarms, his chest, his legs and as much as he could reach of the rest of his body. When he’d ﬁnished showering, he shaved his face, and then very carefully his head. He looked at his bushy eyebrows and then whipped them off with the razor as well.
He stood, naked and relatively hairless, in front of the full-length bathroom mirror. Then he picked up the spray can and began to paint himself blue. It took him a good 20 minutes. Every time he thought he was ﬁnished he would spot another bit of white ﬂesh. He shut his eyes tight and sprayed his face. He sprayed his ears, hoping the paint wouldn’t block the ear canals. He needed to hear especially well today. He sprayed blue paint on all his most private parts, parts no one but himself had seen. Well, not for 50 years anyway. He had certainly looked considerably different when his mother had changed his nappies.
When he was quite sure he was totally blue and dry, he opened the front door, and walked straight out into the bright sunlight. He held his head high, and his eyes front. He saw Mrs Jones in her front garden from the comer of his eye and said “Good Morning”, but she didn’t answer. She was a little deaf, after all.
George was beginning to enjoy himself. It was cold, but the paint kept him warm to some extent, and it was very liberating feeling the fresh air where he’d never felt it before. He had lived in this street all his life; he knew every house would have a curtain opened and a face peering out. He just looked straight ahead, all the way to the end of the street.
When he knocked on the door of number 35 Rose opened it, her mouth gaping wide open at the spectacle on her doorstep.
George knelt on the prickly welcome mat. “Rose, you were right. I have led a boring life up to now. I thought I was too old to change, but I was wrong. You see me now as I can be, free and uninhibited. Now will you marry me?”
Rose laughed and grabbed his hands to help him to his feet. She put her arms around his immense bulk, drew him inside and shut the door. “George,” she said, “How could I resist this gorgeous body? Of course l’ll marry you.”