Monthly Archives: July 2006

light reading, if at all

One of my swiss confidantes sent me this letter… He’s in the States, about 300 years late, playing catch up with the language.

Hallo:  Ich bin schreib-ing dies brief letter zu you, dich, und es ist alles in anglish, ja? Hier ist mein Plan-fur-die-Woche week. Viel spaB… johan

Berlitz-schule till 12:00, then: Take a nap, wake up, make coffee, and rake the leaves. Sounds einfach simple, nicht…?
On Monday, I took a nap, wook up, mook coffee, and rook the leaves.
On Tuesday, I toke a nap, woke up, moke coffee, and roke the leaves.
On Wednesday, I tade a nap, wade up, made coffee, and rade the leaves.
On Thursday, I taked a nap, waked up, maked coffee, and raked the leaves.
On Friday, I took a nap, woke up, made coffee, and raked the leaves, but I felt like a collaborator, you know…
By Saturday I was sick of this freaking irregular past tense dumm-kopfig-heit, so I called Swiss-air, but they were clos-ed (clothed,  claused, de-clawed?). I gotta get outa hier.


“Makes no cents!”.. hah!… thinketh otherwise

Many of you might not have guessed, but I submitted my story (below) to the elite web-publishing house mentioned above, and, as I expected, received the following response:

    Dear writer: We liked your story. And we wanna give you money for it simce its a good story. Ed sez to change some stuff, but Myrtel said no just add notes { like this, cool?, huh?} So heres the first chapter after we went over it..We wore out google and wikipedia…you shore got a lotta hidden stuff there, mister. You’re contract and the “P4yt” gift certificate shuod come in the male soon. cya, mike, ed, and myrtel hurrary, founders…

    “Call me Ishmael“, i half-whispered.{ed. that’s the famous first line of Clarence Melville’s epic novel, Moby Dick… also the progenitor of the arabs} Izzy half-scowled, one eye checking the entrance door (for the thirteenth time)…a dingy door in a dingier coffeehouse on Ben-Yehuda.{ed. I’m not gonna call myself “ed” everytime.. ok? I’m the guy in the brackets. Anyway, Ben Yehuda is a main street in downtown Tel Aviv, Israel.  There are coffeehouses and restaurants there, which have historically been used for all types of meetings} He had been using the place for a couple years now. Might I mention that his other eye caught the youngish couple at the next table in a rare second of inattention. (“To see and not be seen”. I’ll throw in rules here as they crop up).{You wait till something distracts them, then “grab” a look real quick like} Might I mention his left ear, which was following a boring (so I thought) conversation half-way across the room…{ ed. I’m gonna talk like I’m johnny from now on, he gets all the girls… anyway, the conversation was boring, so it’s never mentioned again} which left one ear for my attempt at comradely humor.
 “That’s “taken”…you’re “Amos”, he pronounced, so matter-of-factly that for a split second I caught myself wondering whether I had been calling myself the “wrong” name for 25 years.{ ie. somebody else already had the code-name “ishmael” plus here you’re supposed to see the unequal “balance of power ” between the veteran handler, Izzy, and a green but cocky player, the narrator..who for a second even doubts his own, life-long real identity}
    “Lo ma’gi’a li…”  I returned fire after my little reverie.{That’s hebrew, a semitic language written, read, and spoken backwards, i mean right to left. The phrase here can mean two things, depending on how it’s spoken, which see} I made sure to render the ambiguous phrase’s insinuation dead-ass in the center between “I don’t deserve the honor!” and “What have i done bad to deserve that?”. Poker demands a Poker-face, Spook-ness demands even less…No-face. Meanwhile, of course, I couldn’t help but remember that every “Amos” I had ever met had been busy trying to master chewing-on-a-piece-of-grass at the time. {Amos is also Pennsylvania farmer name, a hint to the “cow” theme coming up soon here..and some of the amos’s i’d met had been less than gifted individuals}
   “Ok…Amos”, I gave in. Like I have a choice? It’ll be “ironic”…our little joke, I told myself.
  Might even be an advantage.{It’ll help me remember my chosen “role”} He had already reminded me when we set up the little rendezvous, that the ability to turn ourselves into a pair of non-descript “businessmen” on a seconds notice (an unwarranted expression of interest from the next table, for example)…needed to be fleshed-out before-the-fact.{this is a private joke…Vered’s been trying for years to get me to be a better businessman… so we’ll have what to eat, among other luxuries}
“What’re you selling?” I asked, slyly.{ that is, should the need arise, what kind of businesmen will we pretend to be, duh}
“You’re the “mocher“,{yiddish/hebrew for “seller”} “ You decide”, he left it to me, generously..
“Cows…” I tested his method-acting range.{Top spooks are basically highly-observant and talented actors, when necessary}
“Cows, then”. To judge by what Izzy knew about anything else you could dream of asking him, it wouldn’t have surprised me to hear him skillfully “chewing me down” over pedigrees, lactations, butterfat percentages..{a couple “cow”-talk terms, plus “chewing me down” hints of another less-acceptable term, while again supporting the cow “chewing her cud” sub-theme}
“You got a “mesima”…mazal tov!” {mesima is hebrew for “a job” or a “project” “mazal tov” you probably heard already} Finally, the “bones of the dog” rising from their unquiet grave. {expression from hebrew for, like, the “meat of the issue, the main point”
“In a word…tokamak…”{Tokamac is the not-yet truly sucessful power generation from nuclear fusion project in New Jersey, but you knew that..}
At least that’s what I thought I heard. So they do take notes. I force-calmed my goose-bumps, just like I’d learned to do, among other “talents” I hoped I’d be able to un-learn after this was all over. Yeah, right, after I’m safely dead. {I was learning to control all types of emotions and somatic reactions} I’d been careful not to exaggerate my three years of nuclear physics, knowing that every paper I’d ever turned in at Cornell was probably on micro-film somewhere in the bowels of Tel Aviv.{ They check people out, at least I hope so} “Where it belongs”, I laughed to myself without laughing. So nuclear fusion, plasma-containment, here I go, off to be a  second-derivative “scientist”…Hmm.{Second derivative is strictly speaking a math concept from calculus, but the term “derivative” can be applied, usually pejorativly, to activities which are in essence, parasitic on the actual endeavor. Thus, spying on a research facility is at least a first-derivative activity}
“I heard of it”, I allowed myself.
“No you didn’t, I just made it up!”,he laughed, warmly.
“No, it’s….a cow whose daughters we bred to Challenger 21, and you should see the stats on them…”{Here we abruptly change the conversation in mid sentence, for reasons you will shortly learn}
“Challenger’s been dead for ten years”, Izzy shot back. {First class bulls like Challenger, a famous jersey bull from the 1950’s can go on to their reward but continue to sire daughters, thanks to cyrogenics…that’s cold stuff, as in frozen sperm…there, i said it} Both of us had seen the waiter’s eyes slide sideways…maybe I saw them first, it doesn’t matter. More goose-bumps to control.
“TaKaVaCh”, he repeated, slowly, this time. Obviously an acronym. Taf, Khaf, Vav, Khaf. Hmmm…? {four letters in hebrew… which stand for..}
“Takhanat Koach fon Chelm”. He laughed at his own joke.
“Power generation station from Chelm”, that famous ne’er-do-well Polish town, source of innumerable legends…headwaters of the Annals of Dumb-ness. Clever, little guy, cute.{this part is just thought, not spoken, by the narrator}
   “I think I can handle it”, I played along… But Izzy wasn’t “playing“{ie. he really intends to send me there}
“Every thing about it, we want the whole geschichte, and you got two weeks.{the whole “story”…german, sim. to “the whole magilla”, a reference to the Book of Esther read at Purim, a jewish holiday, celebrated by the jews, you did get it that these are jewish guys here, right? Even though we didn’t do any human sacrifices and shit..yet}
Ok, I swallowed hard. This wasn’t a real “mesimah” at all. They were still testing me. Didn’t we have enough of that already? I mean, they’re not gonna tell me in so many words, but I kinda thought they had me down as lead material, I mean, the pink twin episode alone shoulda proved that.{ and here, what else, I relate an interesting test from training, a test I thought I had cunningly passed with flying colors. Later in the story, it turns out I had been put on, somewhat.}
   See, one of my training-tasks had been to just walk around the block…well, several blocks, many blocks…and come back without a “tail“{that is, someone secretly following me}. Nobody had to tell me anymore to use all my senses. (Use all your senses! I promised tips!) So when the young girl in the pink dress who stopped me to ask if I’d seen her little doggie turned to “thank you, anyway” me, I got her perfume committed to ever-lasting non-volatile memory. Not that I wouldn’t have, anyway, had I been a human…{A reference to the setting-aside of normal hormonal activity required at times. And, duh… this is the same girl who appears in the next chapter, and also in the final one} Of course (!) she was waiting with the contact when I got back from my “walk”. “Hi”, she beamed. “I found my doggie!” Now by the glance she gave “Y“{ an agent/ trainer} I kinda knew there was something “extra” going on here. I gracefully offered her my hand-shake. Something was up, all right. Yes! the perfume. Totally different. It’d been all of ten minutes since I’d met her by chance. Not enough time to exchange. I looked at “Y”. “Nu?” he seemed to be saying.{un-translatable yiddish/hebrew.. meaning approx. “so…?”
“Where’s your sister?” I asked her. “Across the street with an espresso”, she pointed discretly. “Pink dress, sitting alone”. I almost wanted to cross the street to confirm my perfume-sense.
“We’re hiring twins?” I asked “Y”, bravely.
“Never know when you’ll need ’em”, he volunteered.”Nice work. See you around, sometime, maybe”.
     “So Izzy’s sending me to Poland..”{Chelm is a town in Poland, which is in Europe…. “over there”.. You can look it up} I acquiesed to my fate quietly, thinking “Good, maybe I’ll meet your meshugener triplets there.. {“crazy”, yiddish. we already had twins mentioned here, you remember.. twins..triplets, get it?} “Give me all you got, buddy, I’ll have your job some day!”
“Tonight. five-digit number groups, Polish female, you got the freq?”{reference to the famous short-wave “numbers stations” used to transmit orders to agents in the field, (according to foreign sources) }
I showed him my best “Duh” look. I’d painted the “colors” of the numbers of the frequency on the back of the outlet cover in the spare room.{first reference to my use of  synesthesia as a secret weapon.. google it for more} I was “All dressed up and don’t know where I’m going”, though.{“all dressed up and nowhere to go”, you heard of it? }We shook hands outside the Cafe.
    “Just watch out with Leah-Kass, sometimes she pisses on you when you go to milk her!” I stage-kidded, too loudly.{Keeping up the farmer banter, in case anyone’s listening. By the way, leah-kass was a real cow… with a real problem, which she never really solved, so we ate her} “Gotta learn to control anger a little better”, I told myself. Chelm! I’m going to Chelm…

Through the door, lightly..

 *knock, knock*
Js: Ken, me zeh? (yeah, who is it?)
XX: Ah..Candi…
Js: *notes accent* “That’s with an “A” or with an “I”?”
XX: Ma? (What?..)
Js: Ok, Rach re’ga.. (just a minute..) *pretends to be looking for the key*
XX: ” Mat’sat’i et ha’Khat’ul shel’kha.”. (I found your cat..)
Js: *notes heavy accent* Lo a’van’ti, ef’shar b’an’gleet? (I didn’t understand…can you speak english?”)
XX: Ata yonatan?.. (you’re yonatan?)
Js: Ya’chol li’hyot.. (ah, could be..)
XX: “And you love your cat?”
Js: *notes language switch* “Sof, sof..” (Finally!…)
XX: I give you your cat…
Js: “T’mor’at…? (“In return for..?)
XX: Nu, tif’tach, kvar! (“Open the door, already..”)
Js: B’seder (“all right..”)

XX: *enters* “Ei’ze yo’fe!” (“How beautiful!”)
Js: Toda.. Gam at.. (“Thanks, so are you”)
XX: Hey, that’s my job.. *blushes* So, you know why I’m here..?
Js: Yeah, sure, you found me… I mean, you found my cat..

XX: We need to talk… you got a shower?
Js: We talk in the shower? …I hardly know you..
XX: No, for later, that’s just how it works…
Js: I’ll need a magic marker?
XX: Ha ha! *whispers* “They don’t even know I’m here…
Js: “They” being..?
XX: Don’t make this “difficult“,johnny
Js: The “xanga” thing, right?
XX: *blushes again* “I liked the end part”
Js: That stuff’s been de-classed ten years now…
XX: Yeah, but I got it re-classified “sensitive”…
Js: What’s that mean..
XX: Means I get to sleep with you…
Js: *gulps* Isn’t it supposed to be, like, a co-incidence…
XX: Yeah, it’s all planned out, for yom slish’ee (tuesday), but they stop us in the middle…
Js: In the middle of what?
XX: *blushes* “You know, like…um…before I…uh..
Js: …and before
XX: ..You do what you want..
Js: And what if I “want” to let you “go first”..
XX: Or together? *eyes closed*
Js: So you came here to “practice”…?
XX: No, johnny, I quit!
Js: …you, like, talked to anybody about this…uh…decision?
XX: I’ll call ’em from Rome..
Js: Haha…Maybe you’ll need the magic marker..?
XX: Nu, can we just do it, already…
Js: Cindi, sweetheart, listen. This new, improved “meta-va’anunu” dunna-wanna-work on me… just  so you know…
XX: *opens blouse* “Feel the meta…”
Js: *gulp* You really found my pussy-cat?
XX: *points* Yeah, she’s right here…
Js: Cindi, nu, taf’sik’i.. (stop, already..)
XX: I want you… now..
Js: Yeah, and so do your friends in the bushes…
XX: No “friends”.. No bushes… not tonight, anyway..
Js: What if I just “delete” the story.. That’d be the end of it, right?
XX: um…”Google-cache?”… Nah, you’re doomed…
Js: But you yourself framed me… you told me that..
XX: So what… Nu, Johnny, do me like you did Vered…
Js: Vered plotted three years to have me…
XX: Yeah, she told me…
Js: When? !!
XX: “…across the street, pink dress, espresso…”
Js: Lo ya’chol li’hiot… (impossible!) Ani lo ma’a’min… (I can’t believe it…)
XX: “….those perfect breasts..”
Js: *gulps* Come here, Cindi…uh…wait…let me check my “Footprints” first..

What, again with the dialogue…?

Manny (deMensch): Hey, nice story, Johnny.
Js: Thanks, you read it?
MM: No, I just looked at the pictures…duh. ‘Course I read it!
Js: Upside down?
MM: Yeah, it is a little distracting…that reverse-serialization thing..How come Xanga can’t fix that?
Js: You mean, get the little xangans to live their lives backwards, just so we can “read down” as they go to the mall, flunk out of skewl, and tatto dumb stuff on their asses..?
MM: What a tolerant, loving soul you turned out to be…
Js: No, I’m just pissed off lately…
MM: No comment
Js: Don’t say that again or you’ll be sleeping on the lawn with a target tie-dyed on your blanket..
MM: No comment…No comments…ha ha, “add comments”…
Js: Fuck ’em. Fuck ’em all..
MM: Hey, why don’t I put your “novel” on my site, there in its exotic splendor, uninterrupted by pathetic “no comment” slings and arrows? They could just click here:
Js: You’d do that for me?
MM: Sure, I haven’t had a visitor there for, like a month. Might even bring in some action..
Js: Yeah, maybe… Plus they’re used to your oblique “what’s he saying?” stuff already.
MM: Not my fault. Anyway,look who’s talking? Who’s heard of Foucault, lately… or James Joyce, or Melville, for that matter?
Js: You can read me without knowing that stuff, I think..
MM: Plus the language thing, what, everybody’s octa-lingual nowadays?
Js: It’s always obvious from the context, otherwise I translate in the body of the text..
MM: You wanna let me’n Gato do cartoons for it?
Js: Sure, we’ll do a Kiddie-Book version, like, “See Johnny Run, See Vered Run, See Johnny Run into Vered”
MM: You calling my graphics “infantile”?
Js: Nah, try “Neo-primitive”, as long as you can get away with it, how’s that?
MM: Somehow that sounds less insulting. You got a beer?
Js: Milnor ok?
MM: Yeah, cause I feel like having…
Js: “More than 1.414…” Cute. You get a lotta comments on the square root of two on your site, huh?
MM: Actually, “Phi”‘s been a better attention-grabber lately, with the engineering-school crowd…
Js: How many’s a crowd, Manny?
MM: Ah, three, I think…’course one of ’em was a google-bot, and the other was some RSS shit…
Js: ..and the third guy was you, with a fake nose-and-mustache…
MM: Hey, I gotta sign-in every once in a while, to answer my commenters…
Js: You could just talk to yourself…like I do…
MM: Nah, that’s cheating..
Js: I don’t know, I feels pretty real sometimes, like, I mean, if you can’t have Julia Roberts, you can at least have her picture…
MM: Vered reads this, you knew?…
Js: Sure.. I wrote the story for her…
MM: No, I meant the “Julia Roberts” part..
Js: She loves me like crazy…plus she knows I’d never leave her for Julia…
MM: Ha ha…not for ten minutes?
Js: Not for ten nano-seconds, buddy. Drink your beer…
MM: Le’chaim!

“THIS IS NOT THE END”… this is just a header which says “this is not the end”

     I walked the couple hundred meters to the edge of the woods, staying within escape-velocity walking distance of the dilapidated fence-line. Someone had repaired what had originally been an electric fence by simply nail-and-bend-ing the barbed wire to the rotting fenceposts, ignoring, maybe rightfully, the cold-war glass insulators, whose failure might have been the last nail in our animal/husband’s dairy-career-coffin. (Excuse me…I’ll read that again!) The few dozen cows lazily grazing in the field took quick note of a new smell, and in twos and threes, started to approach me. I could see their nostrils searching their primitive bovine data-base for a match and comming up empty-hoofed.I never liked Holsteins, anyway. The plain-brown-wrapper edition of the dairy cow…nothing special… 3.5% butterfat on a good hair day, and that from a non-descript beast who couldn’t grasp that she was standing on your foot till you “told” her about ten times with a piece of pipe to the head. Maybe not all that dumb,though,I relented a bit. While I cunningly made myself “smell canadian” in the service of my country, they for their part were probably waiting for the first rain-drenched night, when the electric fence voltage would drop to roughly the nine-volt battery range, in order to repeat history. (as farce, this time, of course).Meanwhile, absent a Real Bull, several young heifers were practicing on each other…playing “ride ’em cowboy“, to the amusement of the older stock. One especially symetrically-marked beauty gave me the distinct impression she was practicing the “Honey, did you remember to pay the phone bill?” anti-ante-climax trick. “Let’s not let the bull think he’s doing us any favors…ok?”, she “thought” to herself.Or maybe she didin’t, I know? Anyway, just as we lost interest in each other’s lives, a new “color” suddenly made it’s debut. Or more accurately, it’s grand reprise. Yes, of course, where would I be without my whistler!? This time she was softer, gentler, closer, and as I entered the overgrown path into the woods, we finally came face-to-face.
        Sitting on the merry-go-round (which turned out later to be the horizontal flywheel of the absurd power-plant) was her pinkness, dressed for annonymity in forest-green long-sleeved shirt and shorts. Her sleeves were rolled up so very carefully…something spookily familiar there..and her hair was tied up in the look that screams, at least to me, “practical, but princess-like, don’t you think?” I didn’t have a second to process any of these thoughts, occupied as I was with choosing the perfect entree. That rigid standard of mine. “Livingston, I presume?”…nah…too..uh…”No-mantic“. (I’d been working in my off-hours developing antonyms for any emotion that I was required to deny myself. “Romantic/ Nomantic” was, to date, my only success. A mock-bashful glance at Vered, who returned the exact look, but with an expert delivery that made my attempt look like Windows 3.1, and somehow I knew that we had both decided to be AWOL for a few hours. “Peach“, she finally said, sensing and curing my paralysis with one word. I shrugged. “Peach…why not..?” I sat beside her, both of us carefully covering the approach lines-of sight from the little clearing made long ago by the infamous power-plant-designer. She pursed her lips to whistle, as if mocking my days of confusion. The few active-duty neurons left in my brain felt the “A-flat“s wash over me. “It’s over” I told her, “You can stop now…your little doggie’s home“,I laughed. She put both her hands over my eyes and declaimed as loudly as discretion would allow, “I don’t have a doggie!”. When she put her hands down on my shoulders, I saw her pretend to pout, and I caught myself wondering what breed of doggie she hadn’t had!..  “Three years at..where’d you go to school?” I play-scolded her for wasting her dramatic talent. Sharply, out of nowhere, “You were there, you don’t remember?” Again the pout, but this time in earnest. “I would have remembered you…” I started, “..if you hadn’t been tripping your brains out with my roomate..!”, she finished my sentence, not precisely following my script. Was she crying? I shuddered, slightly.. These method-actresses..! “Annandale?” she whispered, this time tickling my ear..”Is “o’mer le’kha ma’sha’hoo?” (Does this name ring a bell?). I struggled to line up the pieces of my tortured auto-bio..Annandale?.. a vision of a three-story gothic off-campus rooming house…the shaded front yard… raspberries… Liz Reston…more raspberries.. Gulp. “Skidmore“, I announced, like I was one second away from time-out on some quiz-show. “Saratoga Springs“, I added, for insurance. “You were..” I let her finish.  “…her roomate, you know, who volunteered to sleep on the lawn that night.” It was comming back, and I,  in my defence, had honestly never really seen her, except for a brief second as she rose and turned to leave the room.  Win a point, lose a thousand, sometimes. “But we didn’t do anything..” I protested, not knowing exactly why. “We were busy listening to molecules grow, and rolling back the Angst“, (and me, trying to grasp in one night the forbidden secrets of this daughter of my op-ed hero from “All the news that’s fit to print“. One letter, Liz had mailed me from the Berkshires, somewhere, a few days later. Black ink on black stationary…took me a week to make it out. She never answered my reply. “That’s not what she told me..!”, Vered continued, only half-playfully. I guess that should have been a compliment, I thought, but by now all I wanted in life was to melt deeper into Vered’s peach-ness, that original-formula perfume i had memorized a week earlier. She took my hand, held it against the back of her neck, closed her eyes for a moment, and then smiled. I knew that look. The flash of the  processor comming back with a “match”. “Orange, like a mango, warm, on the table” she pronounced. “You feel colors?” I decided to take notes here. “Of course not! Who “feels” colors?…Ok,maybe sometimes I “color” feelings..” she protested too much. “How else do you remember feelings?” she looked at me with that “Anybody would know that!” look my grandpa had been world-famous for. “That’s what Bernstein was telling the kiddies when you and Liz slid into the room“, she continued, then paused for a reaction. Ok, it was comming back, the scene, the incense, the black-and white by-then archive footage of Lennie Bernstein’s incredible explanation’s Fourth!…the second-movement theme, well, one of them, and he’s telling the kids in the audience to “feel” it screaming “I want it..I want it, no, i want it!, and I remember crying when I first saw it, crying about how anybody could be that right…and yes…Vered was right..that was the PBS show she had turned off as she left the room… All of a sudden I was crying again, uncontrollably. So much for emotion-less professionalism. Vered of course had planned and crafted this poignant moment like an inspired artist. “The Unfinished Symphony“, in the shape of this girl, intercepting the letter I had written to Liz, probably hiding behind Ezra’s statue at Cornell, then quietly waving an unseen goodbye at the El Al Departure Terminal, arranging her own aliah, and finally, manouvering her way into a business just built for manouver-esses. If National Security relied on artists like her, I pondered, we were in good hands.
 When I recovered, I motioned toward  two heifers, just visible through the trees, who had “discovered” us and decided to do their little lesbian act for our diversion. “What color are they seeing now?” I asked Vered, intending to come up for air, briefly, with a discussion of bovine color-vision and our synesthesia.
How should I know?”. That was quick, and accompanied by a sudden long-focus gaze toward the darkening tree-line behind us. She made a face, for me to see, as obvious as it was pensive.
I’m a Virgo, pusssy-cat” She recovered a bit and laughed, apprehensively.
Glad to meet you, i’m an Aries” I reached for her other hand. “No, seriously, you must see colors there, then, too, no?”
Seriously..” she turned a second to face the woods …who’s “seriously”…they’re all just a bunch of tone-deaf ‘colorizers’ waving their pig-mented flags at me!” “..In vain, I’m proud to mention“, She added. I liked that last part a lot, I thought. A challenge.
She was on the edge of tears, though. There was more here than I could pretend to understand, and I was good at “pretending to understand”. Well, here goes..
I know, sweetheart, you just want to watch, to feel, to observe, and to “be there” all at once, but slowly, and…
I wasn’t ready for that kiss, her melting in my arms, her eyes closed tightly, all the better to ‘see’ the colors…
 A few minutes, then she remembered how to speak. “Peach, juicy, peach..didn’t I tell you?!”
The red and green of her word ‘peach‘ washed over me. To each her own, I thought, fuzzily, knowing I was hers for the asking…
Science…we’re doing science!…Wissenschaft, le’az’a’zel!”, she giggled. She was dizzier than I was, if that were possible…
Yes, I said, ‘yes‘” I molly-bloom-ed in her ear, breathless..
That’s…that’s my line…dummy-head…you’re supposed to…”Ce n’est pas une pipe!“…She made the requisite revisions in the script. It was time.
Speaking of which…”  I  pulled us both off-balance and we fell, together, onto the soft grass. “Splendor“,I thought, immediately, as green and grass-colored a word as I could imagine 
Oooh!.. new canvas” she swallowed hard and reached out to pull me tighter against her…”We now ..officially..methodically..categorize…nu, help me out here, boy..” And so we fell in love.
    The power plant had to wait, as it had for some years, until morning light, when our crack team-of-two carefully measured, photographed, conjectured, and “tentatively-concluded” what was left of Tacha-vach. “A group picture…that’d be nice” she laughed, as we packed up our things and sat down for a second where we’d laid together all night. “Where’s your sister when we need her?” I joked. Vered looked at me slyly, flashing that “Can I trust you with this?” look she was so perfect at, then melting it as quickly as it had formed. “I don’t have a sister, dummy-head!” (“Just so you shouldn’t die stupid!”, she seemed to be saying.)  I turned and met her eyes. We felt like brother and sister and lovers all-in-one already. “But I saw her..”, I started, “Across the street“. “A double…stam keppe-le..”, she shrugged. “And the perfume?” I couldn’t digest this quickly enough. “Tricks, it’s all tricks“, flippantly. “But you guys…like, that was suppossed to be my “moment”, my clever, observant..uh..feather in the cap of…” She stopped me, motherly, all of a sudden. “You’ll find another feather.” She laughed and kissed me on the cheek, and we walked back to Chelm, each of us by his own route, but thinking only of the other. 

author’s note… and now, finally, we can get down to straight science! Yes, the plans, for anyone wishing to build his own power-plant in the woods, let it rot twenty years, and then sit there waiting for my Vered to show up whistling for her non-existent doggie. Leave your name and  GPS co-ordinates…she just ran out to pay the phone bill…I’ll tell her when she gets back …js 

but first, a little Nacht-Musik…

    Tantalizingly close as we are to unlimmited power for generations to come, this may be an opportune time to “fine-tune” our sound-track a bit. Now I know I nominated “Pop goes the Weasel” for the “Soundtrack from Chelm” award, and in fact, it ran through my head almost constantly, coloring the spongy Karst topography yellow and green, with it’s C major I-IV-V single-surprise Infantilism. But once I learned to pause to “push the clown back in the box“…I  started hearing a different theme, “real”, this time, (that is, “external”), repetitious, and everywhere and anywhere. “Somebody’s whistling“, I’d half-thought the first time I heard it, outside the shuttered window of my rented room on Hrubieszowska Street. Someone’s calling a dog…or just “emote-ing”. When it caught me again, that second morning, half-way through my conversation with Jozef, (my first real farmer-to-farmer gab-fest), those seven notes (always seven notes…) derailed my “Canadian facade” for a split-second. I quickly looked down at the ground, as if having seen an unfamiliar bug,or something plausibly mundane like that. Jozef helped me to try to locate it, the bug, that is. Meanwhile up in the ranch I was processing the sudden “familiarity” of my “Name that tune”. Six “A-flats“s and then a “tail“, an Ab down a minor third to an “F”. Always in the same key. Maroon solidly establishing itself, only to morph into the brown of “F”. Now the thing is, these two notes, without a third helper, could be the “overworked staff” in a wide range of “restaurants“.. from the urbane yet pleasant “C Sharp Major Diner“, with its cheery printed menus, to the solidly brown “F Minor Haus“, where  chalk miners once stopped on their dreary way home to even deeper mines. And whoever-it-was who had taken over my synesthetic world was very carefully “choosing” my entree for me. I could feel the third note, a virtual C sharp or C natural, just as if it had been tossed, gift-wrapped, out of the underbrush. Wrapped in paper, on which was just a sly picture of a girl, a teasing smile, a pink ribbon. And the second night, as I peered through the shutters as best one can, scanning the street below for the source of this recurring leit-motif, it finally hit me, all of a sudden. Yes! the opening bars of Tschaikovsky’s Fourth…the same damn ambiguity, the same key…the same colors! But why here? Why now? Ok, the Fourth was my internal sound-track for victory, but personal victory, against the force-mappings of doubters, grown-ups, phillistines, whatever. Or sometimes it played itself to reinforce the simple act of wanting something so …badly.                                                                                                                                   Laying myself as comfortably as possible on my one-meter-sixty “bed” (What, they never heard of tall Canadians?) I decided to put myself to sleepless sleep thinking about two pressing issues. First, the shutters, what was the psycho-connection between them and the staggered diagonal bars in the rear window of the Buffalo Police Dep’t paddy-wagon, through which I had once tried in vain to focus my vision on my way to an interrogation. (My crime, it turned out, was simply wearing the same leather jacket as a wanted murder suspect) Having quickly melted that question into a puddle of triviality, I turned to the real question, what’s with this “Whistling Swan-from-the-Lake” sound-track? Sleep, however, overtook me, and in the morning I tensely opened the shutters, hoping, like the exhausted astronauts in that classic  “Outer Limits” episode, hoping to scan the unfamiliar horizon and this time not to see my own crashed spacecraft poking out from behind the distant ridge.  

part three, breeding, etc. (comming and romance!)

Berlin…Poznan…Warsaw…Lublin…How the towns fly by when you’re having fun. Was I having fun? Yes, after a fashion. Being a Hamiltonian, I concentrated mainly on my Traveling Salesman Problem.. preparing my scripts, my vertices. In those days I could pick up a language in about twenty minutes, but I’d decided wisely not to hint to the local natives how “my uncle Zynger  told me all about the chalk mine“, for example. No, I was Canadian, of non-descript parents, who somehow neglected to mention any ties with like, anywhere. They’ll buy that, I told myself. From a Canadian. Plus, everyone was in a peachy mood, Chelm having just been elevated to province status. The White Bear, the gate-way to the East.
 Call me a liar, but, truth-be-told, Chelm didn’t take a hell of a lot of getting used to, me having been in Israel for almost four years. I joke that nowadays the Chel-a-mites have Burger-Kings, with “back-through” drive-in windows where you can “speak into the speaker”,and “put your ear to the microphone”, but back in the mid ’70s, well… Houses with no number, on streets with no name, bread lying on the floor at the corner store, and single-outlet electrical “guts”, each a different system, all of them hanging out of the wall on their wires, like sprung jack-in-the-boxes. Indeed, except for those final precious hours, my entire stay there should have been serenaded by a comic klezmer pick-up band playing “Pop goes the Weasel“…or at least, trying to.
 And I was selling cows. Hey, it was Izzy’s idea.. No, wait, it was mine. Oh well, plausable denial. My instincts told me that the PP (power-plant) or what was left of it, would be in some rural, grown-over, hole-in-the-woods. Two days of innocent snooping, cross-cultural “So, how many head you milking these days?” plus a few phrase-book baubles..”Hot enough for ya, eh?” and Bingo!
   Now, unfortunately, we’re gonna have to do a little artificial-insemination here. Not a lot, though, and if that sort of thing bothers you, just “close your eyes and think of England“. See, the story was, a wise Chelmite (the only kind) once bought 40 cows from some guy up the Bug River. They were delivered in due course, but as a consequence of the typical last-minute “dispute” over the price, the seller left in a huff. This shouldn’t have been a problem, except that the buyer, well, he kinda needed a book to tell him which end to milk. (Note I didn’t say “How long cows should be milked?” (same as short ones, haha) the joke don’t work in Polski). Anyway, he figured he ought to breed ’em…that much he knew. One call to the local Agency
She’s in heat?” the dispatcher asked, politely.
No, they’re out there under the trees, most of ’em
Cute!” she laughed, “Now, seriously, how many you got in standing heat?”
Look, you guys breed cows or don’t ya?”.. There he goes, losing his temper again.
Why don’t I just have our man drop off a box of frozen (untranslatable Polish word for “goo“), and you take it from there” she suggested, half-joking.
Yeah, why don’t you do just that!”
So, to make a long story short, after a couple months of “animal husbandry” lessons, our wise farmer of Chelm managed to learn the birds and the bees of cows, so to speak, and the hard way, of course. Now all he had was one problem. An un-interuptable power supply for his old freezer, where his herd’s “daddy” was stored. And to make a short story long, he built one, him and his kid. And it worked! Till the cows got out one night, decided, against their nature, to split up, each one to her own compass… and were never seen again. Needless to say, the power-plant now became an embarassment, a cruel reminder of a bad career-move, and finally, a myth among the local natives, one of whom pointed out into the woods, his White Bears “baseball hat” set at an angle only a mother could love, and wished me all the best. “Crazy Canadian!”…that much I knew in Polish.