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It’s not fair. It’s simply not fair. Why do dark-skinned ladies maintain that smooth unwrinkled skin at an age when we Caucasians are showing bags and lines and creases and creeks and folds and faces that resemble a prune?

It’s not fair. My beautiful Jamaican Turbo Kick friend Genelle Seward (look for her at explained it to me once. Apparently dark-skinned people have more menalin (huh?) in their skins and thus their skins age slower. By ten years, ten years – did I remember to say ten years?

I don’t care. It’s still not fair. Personally I have decided that I sport the Winston Churchill look, you know, those droopy jowls like an English bulldog? But most of it goes away when I laugh or smile so Steve, the HOTH (Head of the Household or the Captain) told me I should smile all the time.

Hence, if I go around like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, no need to call the men in white coats. Just smile back. The Cheshire Cat look is preferable to the Winston Churchill English bulldog look. I’m not jealous, really not, but the thought of those ten years is always somewhere in my mind.

A couple of weeks ago, as I walked into church, there, right inside the door, stood this tall, elegant, dark-skinned lady in an immaculate black tailored suit. I didn’t even stop to think but just blurted out “you are beautiful!”

She didn’t miss a beat. “And so are you,” she said. “I love that dress.”

“T.J. Max,” I whispered from behind my hand and went off glowing. A compliment just for me!

There I was, on my knees, (near the cantor, of course) and what do you know but she slides into a pew two ahead of me, one of the readers for the day. That made it easy to ask for that hug when the service ended. She looked at me, head to one side and said, “Now who wouldn’t want a hug!”

Hugs, hugs, hugs and introductions followed. They were the loveliest couple so I felt free to ask, “You are the first African Americans I’ve seen in church here.”

That brought laughter so I had to explain. Where I live in Florida we have a glorious mix of people in my church. Hispanic, Nigerian, Haitian, Philipino, Vietnamese, Russian, Serbian, Greek, Italian, German, Canadian, Belgian, French, British and these are only the ones I’ve met. I’m sure there are many more!

We come in all shades of the rainbow ranging from paper white to ink black and every possible variation in-between. We all speak English, some better than others. But at the end of the day there’s one thing that holds us together, regardless of the diversity.

One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

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