Friday, February 24, 2017


9212. TO CAST A WIDER NET ('what a stupid boy was I') - nyc, 1968:

There's no sensation to entering and even less to leaving and I'd found that out a long time ago - once when my father was holding me high in the air as I dangled from both his hands and it felt as if I was a mile high up to the sky but in reality maybe a slim 40 inches up - maybe - from what I was used to and it made me feel weightless and without substance and almost free like a bird - had I known all that then and even at two what does anyone know of birds and their lives anyway ONE CAN ONLY SURMISE or assume to know something one knows not : simple feed all matter is : and any tomfoolery like that amounts quickly to nothing but you can't goad nothing to something NO MATTER HOW HARD ONE TRIES - and this girl came to me one day with the greatest name I'd ever heard - Alianna Adriata - and she said she was from the Balkans or something she was a Balkan or Balkanese I wasn't really listening because I firstly didn't even know she was addressing me and secondly because with my mind elsewhere I was just ever so casually looking her over top to bottom as she talked - never thinking her idea was to be talking to me - so you can imagine my chagrin when I realized she'd been speaking to me and I'd not really been listening but instead gawking and she'd probably seen my gawking to boot (which is an odd way of referring to what I was doing) but anyway she'd not seemed to mind and was very smiley and talkative and we hit it right off and she really did seem wonderful and happy and exotic to talk to and I knew right away I liked that and we found things to talk about too - like she asked about words which to her were unfamiliar or terribly hard to understand in this language like 'ladder' and 'stepladder' versus 'step' or 'stair' and then she touched my sleeve and said something about the fabric I was wearing some word I cannot recall but which somehow in her mind related to and confused her about 'stairs' or 'steps' or something like sleeve or sheer or something and no matter because all it did was lead to our talking some more about things - how hard translation is and how often between languages things get modified and mis-defined and the troubles she had with her own native tongue and her quest to master English as WE here spoke it and I said I wished I could know her language and she should be proud to be able to take on English while knowing her own language and then she said no no she already also knew Spanish and Portuguese and some French too and I was by that flabbergasted and I asked her if she knew that word 'FLABBERGASTED' and she said she hadn't heard it before nor knew what it meant but figured it meant 'big surprise' or something like that and I said no not really more like stymied or perplexed and she knew neither of those words either so we laughed at that and I asked about her name and she said it had been given to her at her father's insistence and I said it sounded more Greek to me or Albanian or something that reminded me of the Adriatic sea and she said yes well her father doted on things like that and loved the sea and boating and all things maritime and maybe thus the name which anyway I again complimented her on and said it had a magical singsong quality in English that I wasn't sure she'd be able to comprehend or appreciate because to her the 'English' of the name being spoken was not in a native tongue so she probably missed the point but it was truly a wonderfully spoken and sounding name and she did it well by using it and carrying it for her own name which was my own way of a compliment or something at least to pique her interest in my interest but nothing came of it no matter again and I was out as quickly as I was in to use a phrase which had entered my mind about her and I really did I must say at that moment think of her beneath me taking pleasure but I let that pass too and before a moment more it was all pretty much over and we'd each passed on our separate ways and gone off - as any other missed opportunity passed meeting serendipitous exchange along some cobblestoned King Street passage and I thought of my life forever alone and forlorn but figured it couldn't be and yet her eyes had reminded me of the sunlight coming down and her voice had the charm of the morning and the trill of a daytime lark and as she'd spoken to me I'd become engrossed in her smile and the movement of her complete self with every word and sentence uttered - how she gestured and moved her hands and head with each thing she said and how she'd emphasize emotion with something in her movement or face as she talked - it was all very fresh and new and mysterious too and it made me think of the world the rest of the world and how selfishly stupid we are as Americans here thinking it all revolved around us - small-town hoodlum factors of brute force and stupidity in the middle of some sagging Manhattan Island bereft of charm or grace and plundered and paved and broken and all we can think about is to dominate the world with false fields of right and righteousness and indignation about everyone else - but however that all turned out I never did see Aliana Adriata again (and what a stupid boy was I).

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