Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Bob's Your Uncle

This is a snippet from some long ago notebook.

"There were social philosophers in the neighborhood, if one only had the ears to hear. Our tailor was Mr. Sacks, well our dry cleaner really, although he would sometimes take up a cuff. He was a Jew with the foresight to have been born in New York, and so he remained alive in the 1950’s. When I was about ten years old I passed him in height. He was an enlightened man; he had a black assistant who worked the dry cleaning and pressing machines. He also possessed a clear understanding of the true nature of the world. “Hello Ceely, how’s Ceely?” he’d say when I brought in my father’s suits to be cleaned and pressed. I was the first Ceely; my father was the second. My father had delivered dry cleaning to local customers for Mr. Sacks in the 1930’s. So had my uncle Jack, for that matter, so Mr. Sacks could have said, “hello Ceely, how’s Ceely and Ceely?” Even he had to draw the line on individuality somewhere.

"Sometimes I’d go into the shop and he’d be in the back doing the pressing himself. The assistant’s day off, I suppose. He was so short that the up-stroke of the pressing machine lifted him off of the ground. He hummed a tune, and occasionally sang the words to the song. The words were foreign, but I remembered the refrain, “die ganze Welt is beschissend . . .” When I discovered what this meant I also discovered that Mr. Sacks was a soul mate. I had come to the same conclusion myself. A shitty world indeed, that’s just the half of it."

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