Saturday, October 30, 2004
The Tower of Babble
I also like it because it’s a gentle reminder that no matter how wonderful we thinks we are, we are all still at the whim of nature. We can build as many Towers of Babel to the sky as we like, but it is certain that eventually something is going to come along and obscure them; we’re lucky if it’s just fog.
Where I live in downtown Toronto I am surrounded by towers. There’s a surprising amount of green in this city’s core considering how high up the majority of this area’s population lives. For this reason, Toronto’s downtown is one of my preferred of all the cities I’ve seen. I’ve seen quite a few. I myself live high enough up that I can recognise these monoliths as towers and not simply as vast brick or concrete walls with a regular pattern of television screens, each with its own docudrama or soap opera. When I woke up this morning I couldn’t see one of them. I could have woken up in a log cabin for all I knew on the shores of Lake Winnipeg, for all I knew. There was no evidence to the contrary. It was pleasurable to admit that nature has power I’ll never get around and that I don’t control every aspect of my environment.
Another bit of nature I can’t seem to control is my cat, Noudnic. Noudnic (pronounced Nude Nick) is Yiddish and now Hebrew for something a little like ‘pain in the butt’. I like to think that this is my apartment. Such self-delusion; it is clear that Noudnic runs the household and I exist merely to bring home the bacon-flavoured adult hairball control now containing bromelain nuggets.
This morning, before I realised I had awoken into a ghost world, I could feel his eyes on me as he sat in the middle of my floor.
“Look, mate … ” I myself don’t say ‘mate’: I’m Canadian. But I think that if Noudnic could speak English he would have an Australian accent. I don’t know why. “Look, mate. I’d really like to have a chat about my foo … No! Do not fall asleep! [some sort of cat swear]!”
A little while later I opened my eyes and he was lying next to the bed, staring up at me.
“Listen. I reckon we really oughta talk about the situation in my food bowl … Listen to me! Do not fall asleep! [some other sort of cat swear]!”
Not so very much later I was unable to keep my eyes closed one more. I could feel an intense gaze upon me. I woke up and immediately jump back. All I could see were two enormous, glowing, yellow eyes piercing me with the intensity of a full moon. My bed is low enough that if he sits on his haunches right beside it the top of the bed is exactly level with the bottom of his eyes.
“Strewth, ya’ bodgy bludger! Get out of bed and feed me now! Now!”
His bidding done, I was dismissed with a little mew. “Very good. You may leave now.” Once again, nature proves its predominance.
Another bit of nature I cannot control is my love life. I don’t try too hard at it anymore; as the years trudge forth, it seems less and less worth it to make an effort for something that seems broken anyways. But my invitation for this morning seemed intriguing, almost enough to throw down my Cloak of Scepticism (I’m a super hero in that respect).
“Let’s meet for breakfast.”
Breakfast? How … how charming. How unique. Meeting for brunch is such a cliché. What’s more, the implication of a morning date is that, if all goes well, it can last the entire day and maybe longer, just like in those books I never read ever. It’s a not-so-carefully-guarded secret that I am a romantic at heart. The cynical surliness is just a front, scaffolding for the undeserving.
I was in the process of realising that every single colour in the spectrum makes me look wan and blotchy, while finally coming to grips with the fact that I have the bizarrest colour of eyes in the entire universe when I got the inevitable phone call that regular readers of this site saw coming as soon as they read the word ‘date’. As it turns out, he had accidentally stayed out too late last night and tripped, falling into an entire vat of beer. Oopsie!
“You were, no doubt, so nervous about our date,” I said in that way I have, “that you had to get drunk to calm your poor nerves.”
“Hahahahaha! You’re so funny! That’s what I like about you.”
Hahahahaha. I am the hilariousest.
I will certainly not call him again. If he calls me again I could be convinced to meet for coffee. Everyone deserves a limited second chance.
So I put my Cloak of Sceptism back on, knowing that I can still take it off anytime I need. I may not be able to control nature at large, but I can certainly control my own.
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