Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Squaptoring in the Tropics

Well, the world is going one way, and Marc is going the other way, and so guess what way we’re all going?

It started out well enough, when Lady called this morning: OK, well for everybody but Lady, since she developed tennis elbow from ripping off a Visa slip from the little Visa machine.  True, this seems improbable, but that actually buttresses my point, since didn’t I tell you about the world going one way? Right, so that was pre-coffee, but I did tell her that I would visit her and nurse her, as well as impersonate either Clara Barton or Florence Nightingale, and bring my leeches and bleed her.

“Get the leeches from Puerto Rico Drug, not Walgreens, since I like to know where my leeches come from….”

Right—she has this thing about local, which is why she drinks the beer made in Old San Juan when in San Juan, but wine when visiting France. So I take my walk and sit and listen to Charpentier, the Prose des Morts, about which the normally voluble Wikipedia is speechless. And why is that? It’s a knockout piece of music, and the only good thing so far to have happened today.

Then it was to the Poet’s Passage, where there is a newish smart television, and if it’s so smart, why can’t it connect by itself to the Internet? Isn’t that what a “built-in Wi-Fi” is supposed to do? And unfortunately, the only person in the café who could help me was a guy born after I started smoking, and guess what? Even that is way too old. So we figured it out: Lady has established an account with the TV, and had sensibly named it ThePausingPoet. So we logged out and established another account: TheSawingCellist.

This had occupied an hour that I was to have devoted to writing, but technological difficulties hold for me the same fascination as red capes for bulls, and with the same results. So I was snarling at a whole generation of techies, saying that I’m buying out of the whole thing until someone invents the electronic English butler.

“Good evening, Sir. May I help you?” says the television.

“Connect to the Internet, James.”

“Certainly, Sir…”

The only good thing televisonally, I realized, was that magically the vertical hold button has disappeared. So I explained this to David, the guy who was helping me connect my laptop to the television.

“Vertical hold?”

How to explain that there was a time when your television evilly decided to go manic, and began, well….how to explain it?

“Imagine that your television had a mouse pad, and someone invisible finger was scrolling madly down the pad, so that the screen was wildly going up or down…”


So that was another road into melancholy, since really, who could not remember vertical hold? And speaking of which, whatever happened to Dies irae, which even now my computer red squiggles? So I asked David about that, and got the same I-don’t-know-who-let-the-Martian-into-the-café look, so I explained. Because Charpentier had written a perfectly wonderful and terrifying Dies irae, of which the translation is “day of wrath.” And who doesn’t know Mozart’s Requiem, even if you don’t, as I didn’t, know that the Dies irae was originally a 13th century hymn by somebody or other? So I’m telling David about the Day of Judgment, and we Google and get this: “Day of wrath and doom impending, David’s word with Sybil’s blending, Heaven and earth in ashes blending.”

This seems to me perfectly wonderful, because shouldn’t there be a day of wrath for all the techies who have made my life so unbearable? Does anyone want these guys to get a free pass? Of course not, since it falls within ius naturale, or natural law, which is a convenient concept, because it means that you don’t have to justify whatever you feel is right, you just have to say that everyone feels that something is wrong, so presto! Guilty!

That, at least, is my interpretation, since am I going to read the lengthy article in Wikipedia about the whole thing? Of course not, and by the way, the guys who write incomprehensible Wikipedia articles? They’re also gonna face the day of judgment!

So I’m telling this to David, who tells me that I have to be wrong, because he read an article on Facebook that said that the pope had declared that hell didn’t exist, so how could there be a Day of Judgment?

So now it appears that God cannot do what any kindergarten teacher can do, which is to send the offending child out of the class, or down to the principal’s office, or box his ears, or whatever it takes to restore order in the classroom. So we’re about ready to look this up, since I’m convinced: The pope said no such thing, but just then the Internet got temperamental—inspired by the television?—and refused to talk to us.

So that was a problem, since I cannot for one moment be not connected, because what if Michelle Obama needed me for some reason? She writes often, always with a wonderful message: The most recent was, “Marc, you’re the best!” I deleted it without reading, because what would Barack say? He’d probably start believing in the Day of Judgment, too.

Well, I returned home, Internet-starved, and when I checked my computer, guess what? I was now bilaterally Internetless, and not feeling happy.

Into the void stepped the noise, and the noise was not of God, but of the sculptor above, which actually, as I peer at those words, is a wonderful term for God: the Sculptor Above. But this is not God, but a mere Luis, from Spain, who appeared one day and announced that he was using the apartment with permission from the owner, and that meant he could bang ceaselessly for hours.

Could he? Well, the point is that he has, but guess what developed? Beyond driving me out of the apartment and into the café, it appears—and is alleged, says the legal department—that the owner of the apartment above got foreclosed by the bank, and what did she do? She gave her keys to the sculptor, who is now a squaptor. Or maybe a sculpsquatter, or whatever it is that sculptors and squatters when combined do.

Well, it turns out that we had told the bank about this, and the bank had avowed action, but what did they do? Unfortunately, they had gone belly-up, and things had been so bad that they had—it is rumored—gone so far as to employ a santero to come in and do a ritual, which involved the sacrifice of a caiman in the boardroom. So the squaptor has been squaptorring lo these many months, and guess what?

There’s a Day of Judgment for him, too!