As soon as I finished my first post, Ruth ran back in here and read it. She didn’t squeal or clap like she had before. She said I didn’t provide any introduction to myself. I thought I had. She meant a name, location, hobbies, pets. And too abrupt, she said. People want to be welcomed.
I asked her, What people? Welcome who? Soon-to-be-regular readers, she said. And I was too vague. She pointed to the sentence How the temples used to look.
“Are you trying to be cryptic?” she asked. “You aren’t a good enough writer to be cryptic.”
I stared at the screen. She added, “But you will be!”
I wasn’t trying to be cryptic. When you get old, you start to assume everyone just knows what you know. Welcome to the blog. [That should have its own paragraph!—Ruth] I enjoy the word “blog,” even if it’s just an abbreviation. It’s primordial. A building block. Signifies technological advancement, but sounds like a grunt in the cave. A phoneme that turns into “blogdungsroman” as centuries pass.
Name: Ruth calls me Adam. It works.
Location: We live in an apartment facing a transformer station built over a century ago by Edward James Lennox. Freight trains run behind it.
Hobbies: Reading, general study, geology, work. Work has become a hobby for me. Mostly construction or security.
Pets: Ruth has a cat named Mack. We share the same living space.
Ruth just read this over—she doesn’t trust me because I screwed up last time. She’s laughing because she’s going to be a character in this blog. She thinks she ought to do something noteworthy right now. She just took off her pants.
“Now we’ll get some hits,” says Ruth.
I have just learned a new meaning of the word “tag.” I have been tagged, not with a child’s hand or a pricing gun or a graffiti artist, but by the internet itself.
Henry, one of Ruth’s blogging friends, has tagged me with a questionnaire. It’s a kind of game in which you answer a set of personal questions, then forward those questions on to another person. Ruth thinks these are wastes of time because the questions are always very “tiger beat,” whatever that means, but she was the one who opened the door to perfunctory data.
1. Where are you from?
I think the answer you’re looking for is Toledo, Spain. The men I first knew in Toledo would have taken a full week to answer this question, preceded by an explanation of what an answer is. Same with the question of one’s name. The question of my name would cause particular mayhem. Most writers answer those questions by way of their first novel, but I’m not in the mood. Also I’m not good at typing. My fingers aren’t shaped for the keyboard and I get dust between the keys.
2. What was your first word?
3. Favorite Sesame Street moment?
The letters of the alphabet are examined based on the way they are shaped. When animators transform the first letter of a word into the word itself, they imbue that letter with the power of its meaning. I am told this is a simple educational tool that children use to remember words. There is nothing simple about it. It is an ancient allegorical tradition. I also have a soft spot for Big Bird.
3. Who was your childhood best friend?
Inasmuch as I had no childhood, Judah Halevi was my best friend.
It was comforting, taking orders. I had no idea I could do certain things until Samuel told me to. As if by speaking the words he was creating the act, in me. 4. Do you keep in touch with him/her?
He is dead.
5. Sex or chocolate???
Odd question, after asking about childhood. Perhaps this tagging follows the life of man, and this is the adolescent portion of the questionnaire. Chocolate and sex affect me the same way. I have a mouth and I can chew, although my original teeth wore away long ago. I can taste, but faintly. Or so I believe. Chemicals react to my porous mouth, which I perceive as taste. Yet, in one of the many perversities unique to my life, Hashem did not mean for me to swallow.
6. What celebrity do you resemble? (No wishful thinking!)
When I first saw a photo of a Rodin, I saw myself. Then I saw a photo of the Crazy Horse Memorial and felt a connection. But that’s simplistic flattery. The objective answer: an Easter Island statue. Uncanny. I could have been the model.
7. What was your first job?
Graves said that in a life, one story holds all others in thrall. Those countless things along the way are parts of one vocation I could never escape. If I hadn’t lived so long, I wouldn’t have suspected it. Still too thick and dull to fully get it. But my very first job was building a fence.
It was comforting, taking orders. I had no idea I could do certain things until Samuel told me to. As if by speaking the words he was creating the act, in me. I wouldn’t call it exhilarating. Just felt right. Puzzles being solved with each new task.
I built a wall at the edge of Samuel’s property to discourage encroachment from the good neighbors, once they’d raised the subject of Samuel’s land rights. I remember looking at it afterward, wondering at the idea of will and how important it was in building anything, and whether I had the will to build a good, strong wall without being told. How much of that wall was really my doing?
When I built my cabin, later in life, I thought of the wall and whether I had grown enough to have willed the cabin. But it was Hashem who had issued the order.
8. Have you ever told off a boss?
Hurt a few, once it became clear they were unworthy bosses.
9. Best song to make out to?
Don’t know. Judah often sang to his women. Improvised the tunes on the spot.
10. Farthest you’ve been away from home?
Either Madagascar or the boreal forests of what is now Canada. I don’t know exactly how far I traveled in North America. At some point, it all becomes home. If Question One is home, then this, the final question, is as far as I’ve gone.