Friday, November 26, 2010

The Furry Wall of Silence


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Codes of silence are dead.

There used to be great tall walls of silence erected by communities and societies that had plenty to hide.
Words like the Blue Wall of Silence or Omerta would strike fear into anyone even thinking of breaching those walls.
But a younger generation of mobsters, internet sites like wikileaks and other factors have left these codes of silence in shambles.

Which makes the following code of silence even more remarkable.

The self imposed code of silence of the animal kingdom.

No, it wasn't always like this. Animals used to be very careless when in the presence of humans and would routinely snitch on one another and regale us with the gossip of the furry underworld.
But all that came to end with the publication of one book 2500 years ago.

The sensational best-selling expose by Aesop.

The sense of betrayal and outrage that that this lowbrow work inspired in all animals from amebas to blue whales, initiated a code of silence that has lasted over 2,500 years.

Oh there have been attempts to try to break the code, from the Grimm brothers all the way to Disney portrayals of animal life but nothing has worked. After every shocking portrayal, humans hold their breath, set up microphones at the entrances to jungles, savannas and forests for a possible press conference, but they never materialize.
You will never hear an owl slip up before a human nor will you ever see a blog written by a fox.

It's quite remarkable.

Thanks a lot Aesop...




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Monday, November 22, 2010

The Gift





Michael Berman hurried through the revolving door of his building as quick as the lady in the glass triangle in front of him would allow. The warmth of the lobby thawed his frozen fingers as he approached the elevator bank. He had a busy day ahead of him
Standing in the middle of 3 walls with 3 elevators in each side for a total of nine he pressed the up arrow and decided to play a little game. He took a random guess as to which elevator would come first and positioned himself before the gold double door. The wait was no longer than three seconds but seemed to take longer due to the artificially generated suspense of his little bet.
Sure enough the doors before him slowly opened spitting out it's human cargo of 2 chattering well dressed middle aged men and women. He smiled to himself and entered the empty elevator along with endlessly smiling clones reflected in the mirrored panels.
He caught his own impression and was satisfied with his smart good looks and smart threads.
"Good morning Mr. Berman", chirped Jennifer as he alighted on the 6th floor.
"Good morning Jennifer" he replied as he breezed by her to his office. After a busy morning in meetings his stomach was reminding him that he hadn't eaten a thing all day and so he found himself at the elevator bank once again.
He decided to play his little game again and settled before elevator number 1 and giddily waited. A strange thrill coursed through him as the doors opened before him once again.
After a quick sandwich he made his way back to the lobby, which was full of co-workers coming back from their breaks. He looked around and picked elevator 3 on the right and stood before it. Time seemed to stand still as he waited in silence. Suddenly a ding was heard behind him and he jerked his head around to see the arrow above elevator 9 light up and the 5-6 people in the room move toward the doors in anticipation. He felt a pang of disappointment for a moment wondering how this ridiculous notion even entered his head to begin with. He was about to turn to elevator 9 when he heard a groan coming from the assembled. The doors wouldn't open he turned his head back to see the golden doors of his elevator 3 opening slowly before him. His head spun for a moment as the crowd pushed past him.
"Are you all right"? Inquired Bill from accounting.
"Yes..I'm fine Thank you, just a little dizzy", he replied with a half smile.

He had a hard time concentrating the rest of the day. All he could think about was this strange elevator coincidence. He was tempted several times during the afternoon to try the elevator banks but decided that it would only work if he used them, as he would naturally. So he anxiously waited for 5:30 when he packed his bag and floated down the hall. This time he was feeling a sense of inevitability, so he turned to Sarah, one of the new interns, and matter of fact stated that elevator 8 was going to be the next one. She turned to him and said playfully, "oh yea? well I happen to think that elevator 7 will be coming next".
"Hmm and what do I get if I'm right?"
But before she could reply, it became plainly obvious that he was indeed right as elevator 8 opened up before him.
"How did you know that?", she asked, looking at him suspiciously.
He had 100 things to reply to her but found his mouth too dry to open.

The next day passed much like the day before and by the time the day was over everyone was talking about Mike's strange new talent.

He sat in traffic impatiently as he couldn't wait to tell his wife of his odd new talent. There were a million things going through his mind. On the one hand, he felt an all encompassing exhilaration unlike anything he'd ever felt, on the other hand he felt strangely removed from what was happening to him. It just didn't make sense.

His wife's reaction was not what he needed at that moment. She was somewhere between indifferent and skeptical, of the one eyebrow raised variety. A good night sleep was desperately needed.

He opened his eyes the next morning and stared out his window at the magnificent oak that was shedding it's brown leaves and sending them floating on small drifts of passing wind, wondering if the odd events of the day before were merely a figment of his over-stressed mind. His wife's grating morning voice took him out of his reverie "Hey elevator boy, aren't you late?", and he knew that it was all too real.
He hurriedly dressed and after an anxious ride found himself surrounded by the familiar golden elevator doors.
He was standing there debating with himself, whether or not to continue with his little game when suddenly Juan the doorman looked up from his post and said "so, what's it gonna be this time Mike?"
"Excuse me?"
"Which door is gonna open? Come on, half the building is talking about your psychic elevator powers"
"Oh I got no power I just got lucky.."
"Come come now indulge an old man"
"Fine, I think elevator 1 is the lucky elevator this morning", and with that he pressed the button with a flourish and they waited in silence.
Then the moment they both sensed was inevitable when door 1 opened.
"Jesus christ" muttered Juan and looked away.

Juan had the loudest mouth East of his mothers house and so by the time lunch break came around the whole building was waiting for Mike.
He felt a rush of excitement and a burst of self confidence as he made a show of walking around the lobby as everyone stared in a anticipation. He finally parked himself before door 7, a few people in the audience clapped. His shoes were especially shiny today.
Elevator door 7 opened, and the crowd burst into applause. He gave an exaggerated bow and went in. He stood by himself in the rising elevator not knowing what to make of this new found talent. Could it be that he was able to perceive the very slight imperceptible cues of vibration and wind rushing up the shaft that others couldn't? Or was there something supernatural going on?
In the office he was becoming a bit of a distraction as everyone seemed to want to know his secret, but he was as clueless as they were.
Once again when it was time to leave, a crowd was waiting for him at the elevator bank and once again he relished the attention. He looked around at the myriad of reflections of himself and felt good.


When he came home he didn't mention anything to his wife and she didn't inquire. It was as if a silent pact was sealed between them that this strange phenomena not enter their home.

After a sleepless night he stood before the mirror and made his tie slowly and carefully but under the surface he was shaking, he felt gifted in a strange way, but somehow it left him feeling hollow as well, after all, what was the point of this gift?

Nothing could have prepared him for what greeted him at work. There were TV reporters in the lobby waiting for him!
He walked in and lights shone on him as reporters voices drifted in and out of his conscientiousness "the elevator psychic Michael Berman.."
He was taken aback as a microphone was shoved in his face and a fresh faced reporter asked him "So Michael, how do you explain your powers?"
"Honestly I have no idea how to explain it.."
"Mr. Berman has this changed your life in any way?"
He started getting annoyed and made his way to the elevator bank and slowly pressed the button. All eyes turned toward him as he stood before door number 3. A audible gasp filled the room as the doors to elevator number 3 slowly opened.
He entered alone, turned and was blinded by flashbulbs before the doors mercifully closed and left him with his own reflections on the mirrored walls.
"My God", he exhaled and continued his ride up twitching his feet nervously. His heart was racing and his fists were clenched. He got to his office aware of eyes pasted to his back. There were blue ones and brown ones, ones with glasses and those with lenses, some were spooked out others more admiring, and then he closed the door and they slid off his jacket.
He sat down at his desk and would not get up until 7:30, except for 2 bathroom breaks.
He stayed as late as he can so that there would be no crowd when he left, but when he alighted the elevator in the lobby he found a throng of curious locals waiting for him. Apparently his "variety act" had made it to TV. He indulged the crowd a bit, especially the better looking ones amongst them and made his way home.
It was obvious from the look on his wife's face that she too had seen the news and wasn't thrilled. The silent wall went up between them comprised of a desire not speak the unspeakable nor comprehend the un-comprehensible.

The next morning, there was an even larger crowd of gawkers and he was in no mood of facing them so he snuck around to the freight elevator un-noticed and came into his office, only to see his boss waiting for him.
"Pack your bags and leave, you've become too much of a distraction to the company..", he heard through a fog of confusion and dizziness.

Mike Berman, too shocked to defend himself, packed his stuff and found himself before the 9 familiar elevators. He pressed the down arrow and waited. He felt a wave of nausea wave through his body as elevator number 2 opened before him. He walked in alone and let the doors close. As the dings announced each passing floor he felt an uncontrollable rage raise up through his body. He slammed the STOP button and the elevator lurched to a halt. He looked in the mirror and saw an angry pathetic face looking back, turned to the left and was trapped by the same man. He let out a loud primal scream and slammed his hand into the mirror shattering glass everywhere. He was sobbing and yelling to some unseen power "Why?? Why?? Why do this to me????"
"Take back this FREAKING gift..and give it to someone else!!!"
He collapsed in a heap, smeared with blood and tears.

In a darkened control room, some 20 feet away, an elevator operator, drank down his beer, peered into a little black and white screen and wondered if his little prank had gone too far.











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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

You know you're in Lakewood too long when....

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You park your car at a service area and a silver Honda Odyssey parks next to you and a middle class black family comes out....and your 5 year old son tugs your sleeve and whispers.."Tatty..why are there goyim in a yiddishe car...?"


Can't make it up..
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Saturday, November 06, 2010

reaching for the clock




reaching for the clock above the kitchen sink...

...straining my back
I noted with half a smile..

...been changing the clock for 35 years now..


and sloooowly........delllliberately..
......The clock..is finally starting

to change me








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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

onward and awkward

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they waited..

fidgeting


as...the pregnant pause

.....gave birth




......to a stillborn moment










and the silence....went on and on and on......





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