15 Schlemiel Possession
used to think that I had a thing called the Klutz factor. If my
Klutz factor was high, I would drop more things than normal, and bump
my head against low hanging eavestroughs that I regularly avoid.
If my Klutz factor was high enough, I'd be dropping banjos, which
was bad for the bottom line, so when such events were occurring I'd lay
low for a while, and do paperwork. It's possible my taxes have a
few dropped digits, but my banjos are intact...
Now, I'm going to let you in on the inspiration for my stories.
They are all real. I know some of them might seem
incredible, but then, what is reality? The particular reality I'm
talking about is dreams, which are well documented occurrences of most
of humanity. You cannot weigh a dream, but you cannot dispute
they exist... In this case, I'd probably been watching too many
spy movies, but I woke up dreaming that I was fighting people who were
temporarily possessed by malevolent forces, and who were trying to kill me.
But when I would start to get the upper hand on them, they would flee the possessed body,
leaving me fighting a passive normal type person (considering they just
went through being possessed). This scenario is inevitably
frustrating, so it led to my waking up, and remembering the dream well
enough to be writing this now.
think dream interpretation is a popular art at this point.
Perhaps Bob Dylan had a cogent point when he wrote, "By dawn my
lover comes to me and tells me of her dreams, without an attempt to
shovel a glimpse into the morass of what each one means..."
Of course the biblical Joseph did himself well with dream
interpretation, but it's a bit of a lost art. (Of course I could
be wrong... Googling "dream interpretation" yields over 1 million
references, but then what doesn't?)
fact, colored only by my own memory, that in 1960 or so, I had a vivid
dream of a small pond with a key in the middle of it, and if I could
get the key it would open a shed on the shore. That shed had
dusty windows, but I could peer in and see old violins and other
acoustic instruments, and with the insight of the dream, I knew if I
could get inside, the instruments wouldn't be dusty at all, but would
look and sound beautiful. Many years later I took up playing
acoustic instruments, thus making it a sort of self fulfilling
prophecy. However, I, like Dylan's girlfriend, don't have clue as
to what the dream means...
There was also a really scary one of around that time of a vivid green
hornet. It's possible that the short lived "Green Hornet" TV show
inspired that... But, since there's little as boring as someone
else's dreams, I'll stop this pointless babble.
The topic at hand is schlemiel possession. A schlemiel is a
yiddish term for a clumsy oaf, frequently the butt of jokes.
Isaac B. Singer's "When Schlemiel went to Warsaw," is a classic
of the genre. Schlemiel would be friends with Ole and
Sven, assuming he would associate with Lutherans.
So I am convinced that there is such a thing as schlemiel possession.
It's like demonic possession, but not so scary.
As many a lad in my day (at that precise day in history, no one
referred to us as lads, but as "boys"), I was handy with an Erector
set, and spent many hours tinkering with it. It helped establish
a sense of capability, even though anything from the illustrated
directions included with it was far beyond me. It was enough that I played for
hours with the real electric motor without ever losing any fingers.
I mention this only as proof that I was not continually Schlemiel
infested, only in spurts.
And spurt is rather
the mot juste here, as I had a flash of creativity so intense, that I'm
sure it was Schlemiel Possession, which helps me stay safely in the
victim category, rather than the perpetrator column. I would
guess, when the event occurred, I was in Cub Scouts, as slip knots
played into the "happening" in a significant fashion. One would
hope I was still a Lion (although, in checking my Cub Scout facts,
they've apparently done away with Lions, possibly a law suit from the
Fraternal Order of Lions or something, I suppose).
It being winter as I write this, I'm reminded of how the dairy would
deliver the milk to our door, in reusable glass bottles with paper
caps, from the local creamery. (A bit of environmentally sound
nostalgia if ever there were some). If you forgot to bring them
in, the cold Flatsylvania winter would start to freeze them and push
the caps off. Since it was mostly winter in Flatsylvania, chances
are the "event" happened then, although I would not wish to testify on
the matter in court.
So here I am, goofing
around, when I remember it's time to carry the milk in from the side
porch to the kitchen. It is absolutely critical to the outcome of this
story that you understand that the distance to be travelled was only
about 8 feet. You opened the side door, reached in the metal box
provided by the dairy, and carried in the half gallon jugs. It was not a herculean task... Our
family was large enough that we would usually get 3 half gallons
several times per week.
And this is where the
Schlemiel Possession occurred. There were 3 half gallons, and I could
at most carry two at a time. I was seized by the idea that I
could use my Knowledge of Knots (wow--both words have silent K's!), and
CARRY ALL THREE AT ONCE! So I used some drapery cord from my toy
box (Cub Scout paraphernalia), and tied the first one on with a slip
knot. They had no loop handle, as modern plastic bottles do, but only a
wider lip of glass used in the capping process. So as not to have
them clank, I played out a bit of line and tied on the second. The
third one was probably near to dragging on the floor, but I had all
three hooked like carp on a stringer as I triumphantly marched into the
kitchen to show my marvelous labor saving device.
It was in the middle of the kitchen floor that one of the bottles
jumped ship, as it were. As the slip knot slipped, the next in
line followed, as if to prove the veracity of the Domino theory (which
was just in ascendancy at that time). Yes, all three broke and
flooded the kitchen with milk. The rest, as they say, is history.
Except I will say that I do remember crying over spilled milk, no
matter what the wisdom of the old saying...
That's my earliest
memory of Schlemiel Possession, but of course it's not a one time
event. Perhaps there is a K (for Klutz) factor, like the variance
in clotting factor in blood, which makes some people like hemophiliacs
in the coordination department.