Welcome to the new Stream of Consciousness fiction blog.

A serial adventure in fiction by Brad Sondahl

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15 Schlemiel Possession
    I 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.  

    I don't 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?)

    It's a 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.


Use this chart to find the next of the cartoons (first 47  entries) or the stories (starting with  1 A River Too Far 5 rows below week 8)
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Week 47
(cartoon ends)
1. A River Too Far
2.The Reunion
3.The Daily Grind
4 The New Car and Treasure
5. The Big 
6. The old
7. The Ravine Runner 8. The Fabulous
Folk Festival
9. Druid
10. Goats of
Christmas Past
11. The Secret Six 12. The Great
White Hunters
13. The Old School
Lost in the City

What's in
a name?
The Curse of
Bently Manor
Shortbottom Possessed
The Lost
of Iraq
Phil Steen
for President!
Phil Steen
for Rehab
The Adventures
of Handiman
and Fiberwoman
Pirates of the Puget Sound
Building a platform, plank by plank
The Quest
for meaning
Larry and
Phil to
The Rescue
Hurrah for
the Reds,
Whites, and
How I spent
my summer
I am
trapped in
the Present
Help I am trapped
in the future
Nose of Death