Submitted by Deborah Baudoin -
I'm a Vera fan. I have to admit this first and foremost. I get the oddest looks when I tell people this. I get even odder looks when I tell them that Vera is the character I most identify with on the series. The first reaction I get is, "Oh, does that mean you're dingey?" (Visual effect: Deb rolling eyes.) I would like to say here and now that if more people would get in touch with their Inner Dingey, the world would be a much nicer place. I sometimes think that I'm the only person who gets this. After I explain my reasons for identifying with Vera, people usually say, "Oh, wow. I never thought of that." So join me as I enter the Veraverse. Think Upon The Dingey, Grasshopper. Gaze into the world of Vera Louise Gorman Novak, and see the delight of Unfettered Dingeyism. 1. Vera is a lover of animals, nature, and the environment. She will risk her own life to save a birds nest from destruction. She will move rather than allow her pets to go homeless when mean old Mrs. Waldon (the symbolic personification of Unchecked Industrialism, in my humble opinion) declares her apartment building a no-pet zone. She won the part of Cinderella in the Children's Theater production not by following the methods of Strasbourg, but of thinking of poor Harold, her hamster, smushed under the tires of an oncoming automobile. She is truly the embodiment of Nature. 2. Vera is a firm believer in the goodness of humanity. She is trusting and naive, but this very vulnerability often brings others to live up to her faith in them. This is most clearly demonstrated in the characters of Mel Sharples and the aforementioned mean old Mrs. Waldon. By simply refusing to accept the darkness of character apparent to others, Vera serves as a catalyst for their own spiritual expansion. Mel softens; Mrs. Waldon lightens up. (Okay, holding the illegal bingo game in Vera and Elliot's house could be considered backsliding, but we're all human, aren't we?) 3. Vera is possessed of an innate wisdom that is not apparent to the casual observer. When Vera says things that could be considered dingy, it is necessary to look deeper, to see the reasoning behind the apparently foolish conclusions. Quite often, that reasoning is just as foolish as the conclusion, but once in a while--she astounds you. 4. Vera accepts wholeheartedly the emotions she experiences. She is the walking embodiment of the phrase, "Work like you don't need the money, love like you've never been hurt, and dance like there's nobody watching." It sometimes gets her in trouble, but it is the only way she can thrive. 5. Vera is an optimist. Whether it's friends, animals, or complete strangers, she manages to see the good points. Her imaginative (and often unrealistic) view of the world allows her to create magic out of a flickering movie projector, a nest of birds, or the bag ladies parade. Even her periods of depression are imaginative, over the top, and possessed of a sense of whimsy most people never even consider. It is these things, Grasshopper, that I see in Vera. It is these things I wish to develop in myself. And perhaps, through the power of my Inner Dingey, I shall enter that happy Veraverse and find the pot of gold at the end of that rainbow.