"The show did not dwell solely on, say, a black underclass or the nouveau riche black trading the 'hood for an Upper East Side high-rise. Unbound by those conventions, "The Cosby Show" was a breakthrough and template..." Katti Gray "A father who really did know best: Everyman Bill Cosby used comedy to show our commonality on his landmark series." Newsday.
A former friend's mother, an aspirationally grand very accomplished southern black transplant to the wide wide west, self-consciously patterned herself after Clair Huxtable, the doyenne of the Brooklyn Heights Brownstone that I entered each Thursday night for much of my childhood. She held her hands like an opera singer, favored pirouettes over lumbering turns, spoke in patient patterned poems and expected nothing more from her daughter. She smiled elegantly and sensually (if insincerely) her eyes slightly downcast and brows hinting at a furrow in demonstration of that restrained contentment politesse demands. She glided and held her body tight sans tension. Cloned from Clair, Phylicia Ayers-Allen invention, this black everywoman's superhumanity was inferred and always expected. Clair: Attorney, Linguist, Doting Mother, Health Nut, Feminist (I know y'all remember how she would kept Kenny aka "Bud!" and Denise's heady suitor, Kristoff St. John in a guest apperance, in check when they chauvinistically ran off at the mouth) never tired except for that one time she escaped to that ramshackle cabin in the Catskills (I think) that ain't have any heat.
My friend's mother, awed by Clair's televised portrait, did her best. I like to say beauty is relative but its not and the dear with her sloppy smudged eyeliner and continental jewelry didn't hold a Tocca candle to her prototype. Her loosened kinks weren't as arid as Clair's perpetually bouncy waves. Her brownness: unyielding. Her frame easily exceeded Clair's even eight and she was abrasive in her self consciousness, most certaintly flighty in her dogged mimicry. I can't imagine too many others saw her in this light, flourescent, stark & unforgiving. We attract what we are and what we are attracted to makes itself visible to us and sometimes only us. In a different world--let me be honest-- in a more perfect world or in a more perfect body or lineage, whatever that is, I'd try my hand at Clair Huxtablehood but I just don't think I have it in me or in the cards.