What's your REAL name? I really have to know.
John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt
It was only several nights past that Rob, my faithful lab assistant and campaign advisor, took to vexing me with what has grown, not unlike some tenebrous oil slick, to be a question of profound and reverberant unsettletude.
My erstwhile water-und-pressure resistant computer monitor was again upon the Fritz, so I had enlisted the aid of my aid in sorting through the copious backlog of your questions to find one of either a) embarrassing vintage or b) enduring interest to answer upon this week. Of the occasion, I acquire much of the shame at the general slow and petty pace of my answering of queries, and become much motivated to seek and "put to the bed" those the most griefsome in their neglect. In this process, Rob sorted through the queue, occasionally intoning: "How 'bout this, Lord A.", or somesuch similar thing, and then dictating his finding. It was as such that the above, the question at hand, came once again, after its long hiatus, to my attention.
And, of course, I dismissed it out-of-manipulator as frivolous in the extreme. We continued on, but were soon distracting by the revelation of distressing temperature irregularities within the core of chief lab technician Sang's Easy-to-Bake Oven, and our attentions were thus engaged for the remainder of the night.
But Rob, having of the spirit and spunk, did persist.
"This is a good question, man," he did repeat, a-throned in his cubicle before his computer monitor.
"Leave me to be, Rob! There is a grave ill in Sang's Easy-to-Bake oven, and I shall resolve it!" But little rest and respite could I acquire— let alone the proper time and solemnity of silence for the due consideration of Sang's most sadly disfunctioning appliance— for Rob would not quit of his taping upon my tank's glass, holding there-against a papered printing-out of this question above, so deceptively simple and straight-to-forward.
"Dude, answer the question!"
"Answer to what? Why does this obsess you so?"
"When you tell stories about growing up and shit, back on Tremulon-4 , everyone has names, right? Like Sorrow and Bernard and Gil and Uncle Sphincter. What the hell is your name? I mean 'Lord Architeuthis' is, like, a title, and 'Giant Squid' sort of a nickname. What the hell is your for-reals name?"
Finally, in the frustrations, I drew back from my pondering upon the Easy-to-Bake schematic diagrams, and made for to fling out such a name as would cease of the yammering Robinical. I tensed up, and if I were a chimp-man might even have been seen to hold onto my breath in my chest-cave, for I was preparing to speak it aloud finally to Rob. It was coming.
My true name was coming . . .
. . . and I was struck with the full force of my own silence:
The thing within my noble and nodding headsac would not exit from tips of my tentacles to type upon my rugged keying board, let alone sail forth from my terrific and much-the-costly sound system.
There was a vague notion, like a sent of blood distant in the water, or a strange emotive shade seen flitting across a female's mantle as she descends down, harrierishly, through the inked gloom of a desolate trench. But it would take no form, this shadow in the waters.
Rob stood without the tank of mine. He held the printed of paper to the glass. He peered in and I peered out. Then the paper slipped down the glass and crumpled in his hand, hanging to the side of his hip. He shifted the weight of his spine, and I was revolted by the grotesque visual grinding of the bones of his hips as he swayed from one leaning side to the other. His cheeks flattened, his imperfect eyes grew slitted and then weak. He almost sighed, almost turned away.
I did not know the whys of my silence anymore than he.
I knew not my name.
Of course, I knew of the names of others, as I might call to them in our daily lives, "Their heads are much the tasty, Gil!", "Be wary of her slashing beak upon your tender member, Bernard!", "That jest, she is much the good one, Uncle Sphincter!"— and most surely they did call to me, but I myself had no call to do such, for to glide across my own mantle "Giant Squid, you are a handsome fellow," or "fret not at her rejection— you shall ambush her more the better so on another occasion." As such, I never did take note of that which I was called when I was called to. And now, so apart from my own sort, kin and kind, I know not what that thing was which I was called.
Rob peered in. He leaned forward so that his head pressed against the glass, and where the skin touched the tank, his complexion paled to a bone white, and though I knew he was not capable of expressing himself epidermally as a civilized creature might, the accident of the light and the glass troubled me, for white is the color of death and of fear, and it was to these things I now glared.
So long, I have been distant, from that which I am. Is this play-the-acting, which puts me in such an alien place, both in environ and within my self, or the necessary end-consequent of a life which must excel above, beyond, that which we might usually be?
"Dude?" Rob said, rolling his head to the left, the white splotch upon the glass flexing, stretching, peeling, shifting, oozing.
Finally his cheek was fully pressed full upon the glass, and there was a high frequency vibration in the water as he sank to the floor, his face against the glass.
"Dude?" he said again. And I thought he knew my fear, I thought he at that moment understood the depth of my unabiding aloneness feeling, the trenchant hollow withing. He would sooth me with one of his witticism, one of his wise acknowledgement of the manner of everyday things, a zenish breath of the stillness which him imbues.
Rob was on the verge, at that moment, and I saw in him what some Nipponese stinkchimps have called the wabi-sabi, otherwise translated for you as the nobility of shabby things.
His cheek pressed up and close to the glass, the whiteness of the contact of his skin stretching, as though he struggled to be closer, as close as possible, to me in my time of need.
And then he spoke: "Dude, Lord A., the glass of your tank and shit? It feels weird."
And then he arose, returned to his cubicle, gazed at the anatomical diagrams upon the Interweb, and fell asleep in his chair.
I Yet Remain,
Your Giant Squid
Post-Scriptorum: In a matter unrelated, I shall this week begin to endeavor to answer smaller matters and simpler queries on my own Newswire. Please to visit there, and sup lightly on the assorted hors d'oeuvres of my wisdom.
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Copyright (c) 2000, 2004, David Erik Nelson, Fritz Swanson, Morgan Johnson