The six-year-old and her friend stand in a vast dressing-up closet.
“What shall we be?” they ask in unison, marvelling at their options.
I am witnessing the very earliest indulgence of the soul’s favourite pastime: that of seeking an alternative reality.
Most of the things we do are an attempt to escape ourselves.
We watch films and become their characters. We take drugs and become a product of their chemicals. We wear make-up, seduced by the transformative power of powder. We tell lies to shape a tailored version of our being. We go to the gym to sculpt a body removed from our natural state. We shop to escape the reality of the exploitation of our labour, because within the realm of retail there is the illusion of parity of exchange.
We indulge in activities that offer us but a sniff of alternative reality: we gamble, with the hope of escape through wealth. We fly to other countries to suspend our humdrum with a dose of the unfamiliar. We cling to the notion of God, who promises us a last-ditch golden escape via His gates.
The six-year-old’s friend becomes Micky Mouse, Spiderman and Cinderella, before settling with being a spaceman.
The six-year-old herself peruses, but doesn’t try anything on.
“What are you going to be?” I ask her.
“Nothing,” she replies with a contented smile, “just… Me.”
The Male Nanny
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