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 of..um..Tschaikovsky’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 say..um…”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