Alex Roehner romps around the room in her best crayon pajamas, "Use small words and carry a big ass skinhead," she smiles, a service mile of track sunk into the old skinhead she now wants to extend a quiet allegiance. "Hello, my friends," she writes as if she remembers the words of a song she never thought she knew, then quickly types out, "I meant friend in the singular, unless your voices are with you..."
"Allo! Admiring your boots. You caught me looking..." Virtuality, off the record I find myself thinking, is a keen instinct among particular early tribes of hunt and peck typists and rogue artists found in various regions of North America, but according to the latest statistics as compiled by a few former employees of Standard & Poor'svirtuality is not a new phenomenon, but has its roots in the early religious rites of ancient peoples whose archaeological traces can be found worldwide, although much disputed among professionals who chalk it all up as garbage characterlost and found, survival of the fittest, not the fattest, not the thinnest, but the fittestand not worth the investment of digging for clues as to why this rumor persists while bonding together many populations otherwise stuck on it like barnacles on a favorite whale. That former associates of Standard & Poor's are or might be involved in this study is still a mystery. Then I think again of Alex in her victorious boots. I saw pictures. I think I can smell them heel to toe all the way up the calf in all their splendor from here on this page, despite odors of wet cellar wafting up from the stink below. What can one expect from a place built in the 1740s with beautiful 12" wide planks but no sub-flooring...
"Ha! And I was just writing about things that go kick in the night earlier in the day," say I.
"I will write to you tomorrow," she promises. "My brain is coasting on beer at the moment and I can't lift my unabridged dictionary to aide me in a witty and verbose reply to your wonderfully worded correspondence. I love that you make me think without a drop of arrogance!"
"It's a trick I learned years ago when I created a Zen koan in the form of a question which goes like this: what's the difference between arrogant humility and humble arrogance?"
"One you can hear," she states.
"Your response flew right on past me. Come again..." I am genuinely stumped. But Alex Roehner is no stone in the horse's shoe.
"Arrogant humility must be verbally identified whereas humble arrogance is silent and deadly," she explains in a way I had never considered but made sense at this time of night, and as I write this, so I give her sway.
"Wait a minute. If you're buzzing on beer moving west at forty miles an hour and another bloke is buzzed on atomic fireballs traveling in the opposite direction at fifty miles an hour, which detail do you find most arresting? Nevermind. A joke gone astray. Back to the original koan. I think it is simpler than what you have suggested. Think about it." Here I am trying to get her to land on my square, the one I had picked out for her, but she had been too clever for that.
"Did I tell you about that the other day? My answer is for them to call each other a coordinate." Word games can get silly awfully quick.
"Arrogant humility is like a TV evangelist on uppers and downers and a few dancing girls on the side. Humble arrogance is like the lion with a thorn in his paw." I made my point, but I am intrigued by hers, because it does actually fit the model I had prepared, which leads us to the question, are all squares alike? "Tell me what the other day?" Now, she's lost me in the crayons again. "Not that I recall, and while I recall reams, I might be overlooking something. Please clarify."
"About the Jimmy leaving the station going east at 10 mph with 16 apples and Janey leaving the salon going north with a sack of potatoes. You will get my Alan Aldaish humor in a bit." This girl hangs low. I just love that about her. I wonder if she knows.
"No, just another one of those eerie synchronicities we seem to have going right now," I tell her, remembering something about how she was going to jump off until tomorrow tired and bleary, but we were, lighting fox tails strung to long sticks, and running through the naked woods with only words to keep us armed against the bouncing brown bears and their hunters stoked with large guns, and a license to kill. "That is to say, no, you didn't mention that tale."
"I was going on about it the other day. I am forced to take math so my buildings don't topple and I can calculate bending moments. The problem with math is there is only one answer. In English hell, I can make Jimmy juggle those apples while driving with his knees going in the opposite direction of traffic..."
"LOL! Well, Heisenberg might disagree with you, but for building, stiff calculus will suffice under most conditions. My rebuttal signals a slight twinge of satisfaction. But even on that spot, she ups the cost of doing business with a girl strapped to the gurney forced to inhale the forces that exist in a non-literal world taught to call itself literal.
"So will calling a structural engineer. Aha!"
"You've heard that science now suggests that observing an experiment can change the course of that experiment, right Alex? But don't scientists observe ALL experiments? I guess the key, and I forget this insidious detail, whether observation of an experiment will change the course of that experiment in a PREDICTABLE or UNPREDICTABLE way."
"Sounds like every word that leaves your mouth is history."
"Or history repeating itself, ha! Besides none of these words are leaving my mouth. I am typing." I pop her a good lickin' with that hit, I think. She's a slammer, alright.
"You're a funny man," she counters.
"Not only that," I type. "I paint pictures few can decipher, or even try. So I guess perfection is not as funny as math."
"But just as confusing."
"Just to be clear, said Confucius, before boarding the train, I have no seeds..."
"Where ever you go, that is where you will be, young grasshopper"
"Oh, that one's old, must be history repeating itself." We are both wearing thin, obviously, nervously fingering our crayons and our last few consonants in the stack we kept near the water tea glass, and Vitamin D pills I took because I never left the terminal long enough to get any sun.
"Or I haven't gotten there yet, wink wink." Another stinker, we're falling out of love with the words that brought us this far, now mere alphabet slaves to routine and obligation. I wonder if there will be a resurgence of energy, of creativity, of probing, thrusting, bouncing unfettered words strung out on string, made for you, played for me. I wonder.
"Oh, you're there alright." You're a buttercup solo in a runaway dandelion field, I murmur to myself, now, as I consider that night when we were living at the Farm. Those were good days. Too bad the old man had no vision. Being an old stuffy government lawyer got the best of him, so I add the next lines to deflect. "And that's me in the corner, losing my virginity. But only because I'm a Libra. And there is no way a Libra can be a free spirit. Am often called one, but they just don't understand the conflicted soul the way us Librans do."
"Thats funny most people say I'm not there, or home, either."
"Silly wabbits. Home is there."
"In a Westinghouse."
"Such an illustrious past, the Westinghouse name." And brand. Surely Alex is too young to remember that tagline from the days of black & white television. She's an inspiration, quick and rich in symbolic references that have specific meaning to me, even this reference to Westinghouse. I give her that. But of what long term use is she to me, or I to her? But I don't have the opportunity to follow up the Westinghouse gem, as she is flagged as offline. Ah, she's back.
"Sorry to flee momentarily but Ive been on this silly FB for a bit too long for one day. I have some serious thinking to do if I am to reply to my friend Gabe and discover Suess' dark side. Dream Grand."
"Okay, thanks for chirping in..."
"Most likely. Bye, and hang tough..."
"Which is safer than Hang 10."
"Especially when you've only got eight."
"Just know I'm smiling."
"Skipping all the way to the building that never falls down...somewhere...and it ain't over some ephemeral rainbow. Just so you know."
"The vision of you skipping with "Skip to the Loo" (haha) is well, well, worthy of some angry art. You are such an inspiration."
"Guess my work is done, he smirks." And I meant it. That was a playful exchange. It's getting late, but not too late to keep the lights on for the honey pot to catch the next fly...
"Meanwhile back at the homestead..."
Are you still here?
"No. Gone home. Clocked out and gone home." I presume Alex Roehner, the girl with the most curious hair I know (with nod to D.F.W.) is working from home. A minute has passed...
"Can't pull yourself away from the little screen?" I tease.
"Busted again," she types. But actually I was the busted one the first time these words were used tonight, or so I'd originally thought, busted for peeping her in her hip boots. But I carry on.
"Home is where my laptop is, tiny dancer..."
"Like a candle in the wind" To have both tapped Elton John was a subtle move, but I realize that in saying that I have be giving people the wrong impression. I can live with that. But, I was just a big fan for a string of four or so albums.
"Caught between the bull and his Picasso. The taxi girl and the sneaker in the rye. Forty secrets the Dali Lama failed to mention on his way down the mountain. Anyways. I'm gone. You take it away. We'll meet up again tomorrow." That's should up the ante. Can't wait to see her next move.
"I have a suspicious feeling this banter could be documented."
"Copy and paste into a text doc. Only way I've found."
"Naw, that's falling in the misconceived trap that genius is gone for good. DONT DO IT!" she cajoles. Surely she doesn't think I'm going to pay attention to that big fat lie. Documentation no way belittles genius. Nor suffers it lightly. Nor uses up all its eggs. As you see, I kicked against Roehner's grave wishes, for better or worse, and I trust she will be happy to bounce through this moment of time. Hell, that's what writers and painters do. They document. Enter the readers.
"Tom Wolfe's The Painted Word has a dilemma for you. On that topic, have you checked out Goodreads yet? No? Chagrin."
"Not yet. Tiny magnetizing screen remember? Oh, and Structural engineering class and new NY Sunday times x word puzzles. Trés busy á demain."
"Goodreads is simply a space where you post your own favorite literary experiences. You rate them. You critique them, et cetera, yada yada, dada. It's similar to Facebook and the two services actually interact but Goodreads is ALL about books, your books, and other people's lists. Take it or leave it. Wish it were around about fifteen years ago when I was trying to catalogue my personal library, and had few tools worth fussing over. Well, she's off the clock now. Time to turn the lights out, methinks. Bye dark angel..."