099: The Interview

In these times of recession, you know how tough things can get. One day you’re project manager. The Firm for which you’ve worked several years is an inspiration and clever. Then one day you find yourself slicing a pea into sections with the sharpest knife you have and eating each sliver as the rain falls, bleary with fatigue.

I’d stood outside the Firm’s front door with my new hat, erased. My last act was to take that hat and lay it on the sidewalk and walk home.

So when I read about the opening, I immediately applied. A woman called soon after. We set the interview for next day at ten o’clock, in a townhouse in that area of the city I new least.

In these times of recession, everything is coded. Even familiar things take on new life. The price of gas becomes a dragon and so after a fill up, you say, “I was made scrumptious by a dragon.” And shoes, shoes become sails, and so you say, “The wind has eloped.”

The interview was conducted by a man and a young woman. The man offered me a glass of water but he didn’t say, “Before we begin, would you like a glass of water?” No, he said, “I once wrote a poem that began: ‘The icicles are in full bloom.'”

I’m a fast learner, quicker than most. Most people wouldn’t know what to do or what to say. I, on the other hand, responded, “I forgot my hat,” proving my potential value from the start, and the man smiled and handed me a glass of water.

He led me into an adjoining room and I met a young woman, his business partner, who wore glasses. These glasses had meaning. I caught on immediately. I said, after a brief greeting, “The miners are indeed trapped and will soon be freed.”

The man sat down. The young woman sat down. I sat down. I knew exactly what these motions were about, what they signified, how they should be interpreted, this dialogue of human motion.

The interview proceeded. We spoke for hours. Together, we saw things through signified hangings and other forms of lacework. I was asked about darkrooms (the old spaces of photographers) which took me to my time in Brazil, New Hampshire, and Chihuahua, and soon the man said, “Yes, the inquisitor” and I responded, “Yes, and in old boots” and we laughed, knowing exactly why and how long to do it without being rude.

We eventually spoke about “what is there.” I found this a perfectly reasonable topic in this world of recession, dishonesty, and discomfort. We didn’t speak about “what wasn’t there.” Which I found perfectly reasonable, also, as in this world of recession the press, the government, and the educators had already perfected their inventions under that rubric. We eventually had dialogue about motility, roaming across fields where the bees go from flower to flower, and randomness, the definition of which I, the young woman in her glasses, and the man (who also wore glasses, but different glasses than the young woman, which could only mean one thing) we held in common: “Yes,” the young woman said, “I also remember the elephants.”

The man had a tendency to bring back the image of ice, which I understood to mean, and was correct, of course, to take as a sign, a means to develop an image around vision and how darkness obstructs it. Heat, also, as ice can just as easily render human skin blue. The young woman, on the other hand, had the good sense to focus her attentions on the virtual, the ‘almost,’ and the precise surface.

Yes, we talked about light, which brought us back to the image of sand and how windows are made (to see through or out of). And then it all came to an end. The man abruptly stopped speaking. The young woman concluded with a statement that any other interviewee would have have found obscure or abstract or dumbfounding. I, on the other hand, who had seen the Firm close down shortly after they’d let me go, I who had witnessed the trains stop running and the clocks tick to ticklessness, understood exactly what she meant and that, next day, rain or shine, I should return, with a hat or without a hat, young or old, religion or no religion, and get back to the job of making things.

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