Originally posted Feb. 2004.
On my home planet I was trained in slime mold.
I am a highly-trained slime mold specialist.
Anything you want to know about slime mold, just ask me. I’m your man.
I was sent to Earth as the slime mold member of our research team. That was the assumption. The culmination of years and more years of specialized training.
So when our anthropologist was eaten by dogs and they picked me to replace him, it came as a surprise.
It caught me unprepared.
Certain slime molds, the going gets rough, the individual organisms can band together into a sort of larger organism, the individuals specializing in certain tasks such as locomotion, protection (dying to form a protective “skin”), perception (forming a rudimentary light-sensing “eye”) etc.
With that caveat, here a couple observations.
Driving through their urban habitat yesterday, I observed a couple.
She was on the skinny side, with a lank blondish mullet hairdo that looked as if she cut it herself. About 35 years old. The man she was walking with, who seemed to be her partner, judging from body language, was recovering from a recent injury. This could be seen from the way he moved – large, round careful movements, with a larger space of vulnerability around him than humans normally have, moving his head slowly as if his eyes stuck out on 5-foot stalks and he had to be careful not to hit anything with them. Slow, careful steps.
Also, his head was completely bandaged except for one eye, with fresh bandages.
Just like this kid in a story I’m currently writing.
The woman was looking out for him. They appeared to be taking their first trip outside their apartment since his return home from the hospital. Get some fresh air. Some exercise.
She was losing patience with his whiny, overcautious demeanor and wished he would recover as fast as the heroes in movies. He was traumatized by a dangerous world and fearful of all its sharp edges, dirt and large, hard, noisy things full of momentum.
They stood there and waited for the traffic light to change.
Later, in the boardroom of an international organization, I observed a second couple. She was about 22 and beautiful. He was in his forties, small and appeared intelligent, well-educated and successful. Both were well-dressed. She entered the room from a door near where I sat and signaled to him where he sat across the room.
They communicated with hand signals and mouthed words. This proved insufficient for them, so she walked over to where he was and they had a whispered conversation.
Later they were standing by me talking. I couldn’t hear what they were saying. But it seemed likely that they were having an affair, although they didn’t touch, because she was wearing a man’s watch. A small man’s watch, as in the watch of a small man, the size and sort he would wear. Expensive, rectangular “doctor’s watch”, leather band. Too big for her, the band, she had it on the smallest setting, the last hole, and it still hung down loosely around the trapezium and pisiform bones of her hand, so to speak.
And women wearing guys’ watches is at least as sexy as women wearing men’s shirts.
Moreover: a human recently told me I was more attractive when wearing my reading glasses and should wear them all the time. This I did yesterday, when not driving, and had the following experiences:
A woman in her early forties (blonde, attractive, well-dressed, nice shoes, red mini-dress, elaborate diamond/gold ring on the ring-finger of her right hand i.e. married as that is the custom in Austria) came over to where I sat in a low chair in the lounge working on my Apple iBook and asked if the seat next to me was taken. I replied that it was not, to my knowledge. She then said, “cool computer,” and crossed her legs in such a manner that the battery charge on my iBook instantly increased from 28% to 35%. I responded by smiling and saying, “heh.”
Then I returned my attention to the work I was doing on the iBook. No further conversation ensued.
Between five and ten minutes later, the woman rose in what struck me as an abrupt manner and walked briskly towards the elevators and out of my field of vision, her nylons throwing sparks sufficient to light a medium-sized room or power an electric razor, and the heels of her high-heeled pumps making clicking noises although the floor was carpeted.
I feared she was on her way home to kick her dog.
I missed dealing with slime molds and wondered what else I should have said. I wondered whether I should have replied, Yes, and you’re pretty, and my batteries will be dead in 45 minutes but you’ll still be pretty. (I decided not).
Later, it occurred to me that the events had progressed in an optimal way because here I had said nothing at all and still pissed her off, some relationships are better off dead you know?
Later, two women in the conference, after checking me out for a long time, asked me if I were someone else. I replied that no, I was me, and apologized for that fact. The first one left without further incident, the second felt the need to explain that she had been given the description of a man who must be my cousin and gave me this hand shake/hold/squeeze thing humans do sometimes at funerals when they are consoling someone. It felt out of place.
Afterwards, I wondered whether I could have gotten more entertainment out of the situation by telling her, when she mentioned the description/cousin, Oh, you must mean George Clooney, that happens all the time.
I concluded, probably not.
A large, WIFI-equipped conference room full of highly-educated, highly-trained diplomats; and one blogger (that I know of, there could of course be more, we’re all over). The distinguished delegate from, from… from a Baltic country, okay? walks by and everyone goes, Hey, strappy size 38 (European) Manolo Blahnik pumps. That was yesterday. She was too distracting so I sat somewhere else today. Apparently she’s into the shoes, she had on these pointy black Batman villainess things today, little bootlets from the front, all straps in the back. Long natural blonde Baltic hair. Pretty in a haughty round-faced Nordic Eicca Toppinen way.
Anyway. All these educated people debating topics vital to international security and the distinguished delegate from Ahem is distracting us so we sit somewhere else today, behind the delegation from the Republic of Supermodels, purely accidentlly, and their distinguished delegate likes to plant herself right in front of me, back to me, and bend over at the waist to discuss policy with her low-seated colleagues.
It’s a hard life.
Had a cello lesson recently, expected my teacher to flay me over my playing at our first concert, instead he got out a Romberg piece for the class recital end of May.
I’d tried it earlier, months ago, to my dismay. It’s a romantic piece, towards the schmaltzy end of the spectrum, and sounds awful without vibrato; also there are plenty of fast bits that threw me back then.
Sounds better now. Am beginning to vibrate, and the fast bits aren’t as fast as the fast bits I am just shy of being able to play in the orchestra, meaning it is feasible that I will be able to master this by the end of May. I mean, of course I will master it.
Orchestra weekend statistics:
Beta and I enjoyed the weekend and got a lot out of it, I think. We concluded that musicians are cool. The kids were well-behaved. There was a pub attached to the hostel. I built a bonfire where the girls roasted bread dough on sticks, and the boys wrapped their dough around their sticks, added dough testicles and went hr-hr-hr. The orchestra sounded good in its first public performance/rehearsal/whatever, in a freezing cold church. A musician’s life is a hard one, don’t let anyone tell you different.
If an orchestra is composed of disparate sub-organisms/organs that work together to produce the effect of a larger organism, then the conductor is the eyes, ears and brain (ours impressed me very much). The harp, I think, is the glitter gland, showering the rest of us with wonderfulness. The double basses provided the heartbeat.
I felt like the ass.
The Albinoni piece we placed went well. Mozart (Mitridate) was going well, until I thought to myself, THIS IS GOING WELL! whereupon my mind went blank and I turned into a mime. What’s THAT one doing honey, fighting an invisible wind? Climbing an invisible staircase? No, he’s trapped inside an invisible box. Or wait, he’s playing the cello.
My problem, at times, was the notes were too fast for me. At other times, it was trying to devote 50% of my attention to the conductor, 50% to my sheet music, 50% to my bow direction (to avoid stabbing someone or getting stabbed), 50% to turning sheet music pages at the right time, and 50% to not getting confused by my cello teacher, who sat next to me but played the 3rd violin part on his cello because I gather we had too many cellos and not enough violins.
It is a lot of fun.