In elementary school I planned out my future careers: from the Dayton’s Clinique counter in high school, I would attend the Aveda Institute, become a taxi driver, and launch my career as an architect. I did none of those things because I found others I wanted to do more. (Not only did I nix the cab, I didn’t get my license until last year at age 22, so much did my plans change.)
Any character that now enters into conversation, I ask, “What do they do?” Not as a matter of judgment, but to know how people spend their time (and how people are paid to spend their time). What motions do they execute, and could I do the same? Would I want to? Maybe each of us have a threshold of tolerance, differing degrees to which we allow space between our idyllic lives and our quotidian ones.
It’s always easy to invent narratives for people. Giving them simple, uncomplicated worlds to navigate is a reliable way to feel bad about the messy and unfocused qualities of your life. No one’s existence is so flattened, a movie character whose only actions are the ones you see; no life is as shimmering as the glimpse you caught of it from the bus window. Salaried employees tell you they envy your bakery job and science students confide their starving artist dreams three whiskeys deep and you (I, we) are reminded, like we may always need to be reminded, that we’re forever on the outside of one thing and the inside of another.
Sugar’s identity remains a mystery, though there are scraps to gather about here and there (such as: she’s a she). In a recent interview, she says, “I inherited the column from another writer and so the anonymity of Sugar had already been established…I do plan to ‘come out’ as Sugar someday, but not soon.” We should start a cross-country book club when her identity is revealed.