At the emergency chaosing, Rudii announced to everyone the news I had given her: starting next week, every Tuesday would be Uniformist Day at the Scoop.
“How could you have let this happen, Trevisia?” Rudii asked.
She sat on the grass, Timoo by her side. Timoo was busy looking at all the Creativists and smiling, taking us all in one by one. Ah, to be as carefree as Timoo, seeing Creativism for the first time!
“I was outvoted. Every few days I suggest to the other Scoopers that we should be an anarchy. They don’t listen! The Scoop management remains a democracy.”
“How bad is the Uniformist takeover?”
“On Tuesday morning, the Scoopers will erase the board. They will replace the paint-your-own-mugs by forty Uniformist mugs, each gray with a black U, and only offer English Breakfast Tea—no jasmine green, cranberry hibiscus, ginger chili spice, oolong, or rooibos. The Uniformist who has just been trained in cookie-baking—he wouldn’t deign to tell us his name, so I will call him Unfun—will supervise the baking, and make sure each cookie has exactly five chocolate chips and is three inches in diameter. ‘Different sized cookies are unfair and cause stress,’ he says. The Uniformists will come in a horde, because where there’s one Uniformist there’s always thirty.”
The Creativists reacted each in their own way: shuddering, grimacing, clawing at her cheeks, falling off a chair, scratching nails against a portable blackboard, covering his eyes, unsheathing a cardboard sword, or screaming.
“But the Scoop is open to all,” Numms said, “We can all still come. We’ll sit at a separate table. We’ll bring our own mugs that we painted.”
“But Numms, the Scoopers will give ‘cold tea’ to anyone who breaks the Uniformist atmosphere. For our whole club to get ‘cold tea’…”
“Cold tea isn’t bad. Why’s everyone shitting on cold tea?”
“Not all of us prefer ‘cold tea’, Lisa.”
“We should have taken over the Scoop long ago! Then we wouldn’t have to worry about the Scoopers betraying us!” shouted Lukko.
“Would it really be that bad? We can just stay away; we can still get our cookies the other six days of the week…”
“But we’d have to stay away from the Workshop, too. Would you feel comfy in the Workshop if thirty Unifomists do their ‘formal tea chant’ above your head?”
“We’ll sing our own songs! I’ll teach you all a song right now, it’s called ‘The song which never repeats a single word’.”
“Or we can wear earmuffs. Come join my impromptu earmuff-making spree!” Cotton balls of all colors spilled out onto the table.
“We’ll wear U-shirts and sneak in. They won’t be able to tell, because they can’t distinguish anyone who’s wearing a U-shirt. Then when we sit at their table, we’ll take off our shirts!”
“WHAT??? We’re not Sexists!”
“I meant, we would have on Creativist shirts underneath.”
“We’ll sit at their table and do this!” I took out several canisters of paint and spilled them all over the picnic table.
“My cotton balls!”
Rainbow paintfalls globbed over the edge of the table, carrying the balls with them. It was truly an impromptu piece of art. It was a shame our photographer was not here.
“Trevisia, this is an unacceptable waste of paint,” Rudii said severely. “As punishment you are not to touch any paint, dyes, markers, colored pencils, food coloring, or tomato juice over the next week.”
No color? I suppressed my horror, and tried to get back into Rudii’s good graces.
“I have another idea! We’ll bake thirty-seven different kinds of cookies. We can’t use the Scoop ovens, but I know the locations of many ovens on campus. When they eat the cookies, we’ll have planted the seeds of Creativism in their stomach.”
Rudii had gone, though. My idea floated in the air, unheard.
I looked around and saw that everyone was busy suggesting ideas—through dialogue, song, mimes, or interpretive dance—and no one was listening. Several Creativists were engaged in fights with sticks, with Numms pretending to a Uniformist reciting the statement of the Law of Large Numbers. The only person paying me any attention was Timoo, who was catching the paint globbing off the table with his shirt.
“Paint is bad for grass,” he said.
Glop, glop, glop.
“Thanks,” I said. “I’m sorry. I just got over-excited, and thought the world needed more color.”
Timoo gestured at the rest of the group. “Is it always like this?”
I nodded. “There’s a reason we call our meetings ‘chaosings’. We’re not very good at—”
“Order,” Rudii was saying, “To order! Please come together. We must agree on a common plan.”
But no one paid attention.
From somewhere unseen, she came like an answer from a god.
Wearing a shirt of green, reminiscent of a pea-pod.
In her hand she held a single bean.
“Heya, it’s nice to stumble upon a group so varied, but pray tell: what has you so harried?”
Everyone stopped what they were doing at looked at the bold girl.
“Hostile takeover! Loss of creativity! Erasure!” Chyme said as she acted out her words.
I stepped in front of Chyme before she could talk more. “Do you walk through campus along the same path every day? Do you despair upon seeing architecture made of identical bricks and identical columns? Then Creativism might be for you. We believe in taking a different path every day. We believe that every person and every thing should be different, like snowflakes, except much more so.”
I threw her a plain white shirt from my bag.
“As a warm-up you can design your own T-shirt. Make sure it is sufficiently different from every shirt you’ve seen! Please come back only when you have finished! Then I’ll explain the Initiation to you.” As always, I had several new wooden boxes that I had ready in my pocket.
The girl smiled.
“I thank you kindly for that quick debrief—it’s good to hear a statement of belief. But please give me the honor, rainbow chief. I’d like to help you assuage your grief.”
“What grief? We’re all happy here with our creative lives.”
“I thought I heard some screaming. Not at all like happy dreaming. Not all is what it’s seeming, so I ask you for the meaning.”
“Thank you for your greeting,” I insisted, “But we’re in the middle of a private meeting.”
“Strangers in our midst we’ll have to baptize,” Lukko said, “For what if you’re a Uniformist in disguise? I know they’re trying to infiltrate us with spies!”
The girl in green closed her hand around her bean, and took up a somber mien.
“Forgive me, but I’m not sure I want to join so soon. I take things slowly, like the waxing of the moon. I thought y’all had a friendly vibe, but I guess you’re just another campus tribe.”
“Creativists!” Rudii said firmly. “This is no way to treat a guest! We’ve got to show this girl our best. Just like Timoo here, you’re not going to tell him shoo, are you?” She looked pointedly at us, before turning back to green-bean girl.
“Do you know about the Uniformists?”
“Are they the ones with shirts of gray? I’ve only seen them from far away. In groups they make an imposing display!”
“It’s right to be on your toes,” Rudii said, “You don’t want to get too close. Right now they’re trying to take over the Scoop. We can’t let them come and—and—” she stumbled, looking confused.
“—leave behind their poop,” Lisa finished. Her eyes widened. “Oh, shit! You’re doing it!”
“You’re talking in rhyme! Didn’t you have trouble for the longest time?”
Rudii looked at green-bean girl in wonder. “What manner of creature are you?”
“I am someone quite true. But I did not come to talk about me, I came in pursuit of harmony. I’m tired of all this name-calling; I have in mind something much more enthralling.
“What works for Creativists works for Uniformists. The plan is this: I sit among them, and they’ll ask me ‘Have you lost your way, miss?’ or cough loudly, ahem. I’ll start speaking in rhyme. For many, it’ll be their first time. My words will seem like magic, and they’ll feel their lack of creativism as quite tragic.”
“Forgive me for my skepticism,” I said, “But you’re going to convert Uniformists into Creativism?” I asked.
“You can’t deny the power of rhyme. It orders your thoughts over the course of time. Takes thoughts weighted down by daily grime, and cleanses them until they’re shining sublime.”
FizzleGo, the performance poet, was seething with disapproval. He couldn’t help but finally show it.
“Rhyming isn’t the same as Creativism! It’s more like… hypnotism! Anyone can rhyme a syllable—true poetry is much more unpredictable. Rhyming is lazy, it encourages our thoughts to be hazy. Rather than putting your ideas in accord, all you have to do is end with the right word. Aargh! Bargh!”
Rudii agreed. “Just because you teach them to rhyme, doesn’t mean they’ll pick up the creative paradigm.”
Lukko spoke up. “I know, you’ll be the bait—you’ll hold them stupefied. In that malleable state, we’ll teach them to create—until they’re completely transmogrified!”
We looked back at green-bean girl—or where she had been. Now she was nowhere to be seen.
Gone as quickly as she had come. Mysteriously, like a garden gnome.
“She’s gone! We shouldn’t have scared her with our tone.”
“By jove! We didn’t show her enough love.”
“You all sound weirdly dissonant,” Rudii said, “You were rhyming but now you… can’t.”