Friday, October 14, 2011



NINA: What do you do for a living?   
PHIL BLACKWOOD: I’m a writer.
NINA: Oh! What kind of books?
PHIL BLACKWOOD: Mystery, detective novels.
PHIL BLACKWOOD: Don’t impress you?
NINA: No, I just read serious books.
        —Her alibi, 1989, Bruce Beresford.

LET ME TELL YA, there’s an endemic pathology in categorizing humans.

This matter came out over dinner with a friend of mine in a Vietnamese restaurant several months ago. She works for a financial enterprise in Wall Street, and she’s surrounded by the type of species whose education has been fostered by Yvy schools, such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and so forth. Over mojitos, which by the way ran out of sugar, she told me that when she moved in to that elitist environment, she got tired of hearing the same questions: Where did you study? Where do you work?
It is quite telling that depending on your answer, they stick you a quite dissimilar label: “Welcome-buddy-you-are-one-of-us” or “Who-the-hell-are-you-and-what-the-hell-are-you-doing-here?”

That reminds me that something quite similar occurred to me in the past.

I was at my office dealing with some capricious clients, a common species that suck your time like vampires suck blood—no matter what, the nub of the issue is to suck—when all of a sudden I received an e-mail from a dear friend of mine:

“Wanna sail the British Virgin Islands?”

H.O.L.Y  C.O.W.!

I flipped my chair and I dropped the receiver making a strenuous noise. As you may imagine, I said yes. Actually, I said: Yes, yes, and yes. The sailing trip was organized by the LBS’ Sailing Club, and I ended up boarding a ship with five guys from all over the world. Dear Readers, needless to say, I was the Queen of the boat. Ha!

It turned out that I was a mysterious woman for the rest of the sailors. So the second day we docked the vessel to an island, and I went to the shore to refresh myself. Unexpectedly, a woman from another boat sat down next to me and asked me The Questions: Where did you study? Where do you work?

Institute Le Rosey and I’m a Russian Government Spy. Shhhh… Don’t tell anybody.
One night I was dancing reggae with the doctor of the island, who by the way would become my doctor—yet that’s another story, my Inquisitive Readers. I will tell you some day—a guy came to me dancing and instead of the usual move “Wanna drink something?,” he shot me The Questions in my ear: Where did you study?! Where do you work?!

Eton College, and I’m a member of The Secret Intelligence Service. MI6. Shhhh… Don’t tell anybody.

The sixth day, I recall, I was waiting in line in order to pay for some batteries at a shop when a guy from another boat started to chat with me. At the time of walking out, he, wearing the Harvard class ring, stopped me to ask, doncha know?

Philips Exeter Academy, and I’m on sabbatical right now. Wink.

First off, keep your guns down gunslingers. I don’t have anything against those elitist schools. In fact, I am aware that one of the privileges to study in one of them is that you don’t have to suffer a bunch of mediocre pseudo-professors who intoxicate you with the “memorize-and-vomit up” method.

Said that, I wonder: Do we need to be classified as taxonomists do with species? Or am I like the salamander, found in the Central Valley area of California, which taxonomists have accepted as unclassifiable? Perhaps if nature is not concerned with putting her creations into categories, why don’t we, humans,—the rarest species in the wild—dare to surprise?

Copyright © 2011 by THE PYTHAGOREAN  STORYTELLER. All rights reserved.