You are indeed a wise squid, as well as a giant one. I would not have guessed that cheesecake is technically a "custard!" Your logic is flawless. But knowing now that a cheesecake is actually a custard has not stopped us from starting on the latest cheesecake, as I thought it would!
The Prescriptive Bakers Union
My Dear Prescriptive Bakers Union,
Permit me to explain via illustrative anecdote, as is my custom. As chance would have it, my teenagéd typist, Jarwaun, slouched into my lab on a recent afternoon with quite a self-similar conundrum, explaining his recent and embarrassing compulsion to view anatomical and instructional videos upon Google's Internet, sans SafeSearch, and the self-distressing degree to which this has perturbed his sleep and social patterns, wreaking havoc on academic performance which, at its best, offers little margin for additional errors, and badly damaging his personal self-assessments.
"TEENAGÉD JARWAUN" I intoned, "LET ME SHARE WITH YOU AN ILLUSTRATIVE ANECDOTE, WHICH I BELIEVE MAY SERVE, VIA ANALOGY, TO CLARIFY YOUR CONUNDRUM. YOU SEE, I RECALL AN OCCASION WHEN ONE OF MY MANY DEAR READERS ASKED A QUESTION COINCIDENTALLY QUITE SELF-SIMILAR TO YOUR VERY PROBLEM—WHICH, AT THAT TIME, HAPPENED TO REMIND ME OF A RELATED DILEMMA THEN PLAGUING MY ASSISTANT ROB—"
"Dude!" Rob shouted, pausing in his rummage in order to poke his head above the open refrigerator's door, prairie-doggishly, "I can hear all the shit you're about to be saying about me. I'm right fucking almost exactly in the same room."
"—TO ROB I INDICATED THAT HIS DILEMMA HAPPENED TO REMIND ME OF THAT WHICH I HAD BEEN RUMINATING UPON FOR A THEN-RECENT PETITIONEER, A MISSIVE WHICH ITSELF HAD CAUSED ME TO RECALL A PAST OCCASION WITH MY PREVIOUS ASSISTANT, TOM OLAFSDOTTIR—PRIOR TO HIS UNFORTUNATE DEMISE—"
"Tom?" Rob said, now standing aside Jarwaun in front of my tank, picking suspiciously at a carton of pilfered purloined Chinese carry-away-from-here, "I don't remember this shit at damn all."
"—WHEN I WAS CALLED UPON TO RECOUNT FOR TOM, BY WAY OF ANSWERING YET A DIFFERENT AND EARLIER READER-SUBMITTED REQUEST FOR ADVICE, AN ANECDOTE CONCERNING THE LATE ALBERT EINSTEIN AND HIS CHAUFFEUR. YOU SEE, WHILST ON SABBATICAL FROM THE LABORATORY OF LORD REGINALD PRINCETON'S INSTITUTE FOR THE ADVANCED STUDY—"
"Hold up," Rob interjected, rice fleck-flitting from his lips, "Wait: You told this anecdote to Tom, or to the guy who wrote in with the question or . . . shit . . . To Einstein?"
Jarwaun shook his head with the pity, and I continued to tell my anecdote, as follows:
It was the summer of 1945, and Mr. Einstein was at that time on sabbatical from his academic appointment, and so therefore, in the interest of good health and relaxation, he had taken it upon himself to travel the highways and byways of this Great Land, cross-crissing the countryside—as is the fashion of all finer intellects—so as to dispense both occasional wisdom and prepared remarks on matters of the natural sciences and physical manifestations there-of, including a brief question-the-answer session and light refreshments (provided by the venue at their expense and with no additional cost to attendees).
One afternoon, as they tooled through the sun-dabbled—if somewhat dusty—Southwestern countryside, Herr Doktor Einstein's driver happened to opine that, having heard the noted doctor's oratory on so many occasions already, he firmly believed he could stand in for the famed physicist and deliver his speech, with none the wiser. Tickled at the prospect of having the opportunity to enjoy his complimentary dessert without interruption, the noted Jüdendeütschphysïcsmächer jumped upon the suggestion with gusto. They pulled onto the graveled shoulder of Route 66, traded garb and seats, and continued thence to the banquet hall and their appointment there-in.
In the hall, all proceeded as planned: The driver was immediately and warmly greeted as the famed physicist, with none offering even a second glance to his affable, if unremarkable, "driver"—who you will recall was in actuality the noted Mr. Dr. Einstein. There, in the dim confines of the banquet hall, Einstein was delighted to sit in the back of the room, peacefully enjoy his Sanka and APPLES—BROWN BETTY, and watch giddily as his uneducated driver offered a flawless recitation of Albert's usual shtick. Coming to the end, the driver's recital was greeted with warm applause, after which he comported himself with ease and acumen as several dim audience members posed elementary question of clarification on several matters discussed. Finally, a scowling little man raised his hand, and when called upon by the driver, stood and asked a question regarding the quantum aspect of the wave/matter of photons, employing a tortured and tortuous precision—it was a writhing, double-jointed stinging nettle of a question—and punctilious charmlessness calculated to make painfully apparent to all that this interlocutor, the Dread Dr. Edward Teller, was as an accomplished physicist of no small stature himself.
The driver, there upon the podium, pinned to the stage by the piercing spotlight, fixed Dr. Teller with a cool, even supercilious eye (although the driver was eye-brow-less).
"That," he said evenly, "Is the most elementary question I have yet been asked—and that includes those which I have been asked at elementary schools by the elementarily schooled. It is, in fact, so very basic that I think I shall let my driver answer you."
And, with that, the spotlight swung around to old Einstein, sitting at the back of the hall in his driver's jacket and peaked cap, picking at the last crumbs of his cake's crust. Einstein looked up through his woolly eyebrows. "Wellllll," he said slowly, "To me, it very much seems—" and then he cleared his throat, took a sip of water, and paused. The pause was long, and he breathed evenly, like a cat crouched in the tall weeds, but each breath drew in deeper than the last, and expelled less, until the breaths were each strange, enormous beasts themselves, like great psychopompous winds drawing pilgrims into the dark heart of their Delphic shrine. A slight tremor rattled the spoons in their coffee saucers, and finally Mr. Einstein took a breath that seemed never to stop, to have not yet stopped. Tremendous, eldritch blades of light shot forth from his crown and palms and eyes, lancing to the heaven, and all present there—the audience, the stage, the podium, the driver disguised as the doctor, the banquet hall, the street where it stood, the town that housed the street—all were encompassed by the kinetic twin of those great breaths, a single noiseless howl that scoured the earth clean, until nothing stood at the roots of the ominous mushroom of cloud which towered above, staining the sky in gaudy swirls of pink and orange and red, like a blendered treat of sherbets, fruits, and white kittens.
At my tale's conclusion, Rob tossed his Chinese paper carton and plastic fork into a trashcan. "Dude," he declared, "None of that is possible. First off, because Einstein didn't nuke Texas, or whatever, in, like, 1955; everyone knows he was killed in that fire in the movie theater where the dude that made Hostel shot Hitler. Another thing—"
Jarwaun set his hand gently on Rob's shoulder. "Naw," he said, "It's cool Rob-o. I get it."
"Get what? What the fuck's to get? That the salinity is fucked in Lord A's tank again? 'cause that's all I'm getting out of this."
Jarwaun ignored Rob, instead looking at me appraisingly: "Was you that chauffeur, Mr. Squid."
"And did Mr. Einstein blowin' up in 1945," he looked at Rob pointedly as he said this date, "Did it mad screw-up the space-time continuum and shit?"
"I FEAR THAT, YES, IT DID."
Jarwaun nodded sagely. "Stuff like that happen, Mr. Squid. It ain't your fault. For reals. You didn't know he'd get that upset."
And, Dear Readers, in the wake of the words of this mediocre ward of the Detroit Public Schools, a great and terrible weight slipped off of my triple hearts, and I, for the very first time in my very long life, truly felt relieved. You call me a wise squid, and I wonder: Wise? Was I wise in those callow days when I piloted Mr. Dr. Einstein's fine black Cadillac over the highways that part the slickrock and chaparral? Am I wise now, here, as I advise you? I should hope, in all my years, to someday be as wise as this beardless boy.
Until then I Remain,
Your Giant Squid
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Copyright (c) 2000, 2004, David Erik Nelson, Fritz Swanson, Morgan Johnson