/ Stories / By Age / Old /
Yahoo games section offers a daily Sudoku puzzle, new one fresh every midnight. I now see the truth of something I’d previously merely speculated about: I can finish the puzzle, wipe it out, reload it, the same puzzle, and play it as though I’d never seen it before.
Not quite: if it’s very simple, I’ll recognize it; if it’s moderately difficult, I won’t recognize it: or, if I do, it doesn’t matter, I still won’t recognize the answers, I’ll have to “solve” it all over again.
I think about these things all the time playing solitaire: Free Cell, for example. There are as many possible deals as there are bridge hands: 53,644,737,765,488,792,839,237,440,000 (5.36 x 1028). If the same deal duplicated, who would know it? Reminds me of a story: musical repetition:
Music, like poetry, like anything patterned, is a kind of mnemonic device: “thirty days hath September …” I can still quote poems I heard when I was eight, or ten, or twelve. But not everyone has the same memory: most people can’t quote the poem they heard when they were eight. Sit still, let me wind up:
2006 the FBI arrested me, 2007 the fed court censored me: a riot since I’d never been published in the first place, except by myself. The pub defender warned me that if I tried to tell the truth, any Palm Beach jury would see to it that I was jailed for forty years. This was before my sentencing, so I didn’t know that I was censored yet: except in the sense that if you’re in jail without your usual tools, of course you’re censored: an arrest stops you from doing what you’re doing, forces you to do something else, maybe nothing. Jesus preached at the sea short, on the mountain side, at the Temple; not in jail. Anyway I calculated that the lawyer may well have been right: the fastest way for me to get back to work, indicting my society and its institutions, was to “plead” “guilty”, lie that I was wrong: kneel, salute, genuflect … Like when I was a kid: I learned early: the wave is stronger than you are: don’t fight it, tumble with it: get to the surface, breathe, then swim, get to shore. So: 2007 I’m back home. 2008 the FBI returned my computers: disassembled, no longer networked: my six domains kablooie, my business wrecked, my 4000 text files evaporated: except for a few hundred blog posts: they were still up.
Well, I needed to get back to work, I did, but I immediately, urgently, needed to meet a woman, to hug a woman, to kiss a woman, to get laid. The fed social worker told me about a seniors dance, women way outnumbering men. It had been over half a century since I’d danced, but I didn’t doubt that I could force myself to remember. Sure enough: by the end of the first dance, 9 to 3, me dancing with Phylis, other women were asking Phylis if they could have the next waltz with me. Six + years later they still do, no surprise, women always lined up to ask to dance with me: it’s one of the things I’m good at, don’t need to practice.
In no time I’ve slept with more senior women than I had in the rest of my life put together. Suddenly I know not one woman in her eighties, then nineties, Catherine, my beloved patron, I know several women in their nineties, and several in their eighties, and several in their seventies, and several … on down: to women in their twenties, relatives of older women, nieces and such, also showing up. Well, one gal, ninety-something, a widow of a popular band leader, she herself did the piano interlude during lunch, Lois: I’d help Lois carry her keyboard in and out, help her load the car. I asked Lois if she’d give me a lesson. Sure: she had two keyboards at her nice house on the lake, I didn’t even have to carry mine.
Anyway, next thing you know Lois and I are buddies, I come and go, we dine together on occasion, she keeps mentioning that she wants me to come to one of her Thursday recitals, she plays at an old folks home, I’ll hear her play and get a free lunch out of it.
Good. We go to Fairway Pines. I set Lois’s keyboard up in the recital room. The room is full of instruments: a piano, an organ … tambourines, castanets washboard basses … Lois takes her place, the instruments are passed around: everyone in her audience has something to beat on or to strum along with: kazoos, triangles … Nice: the folks are very old, but it’s very social, I approve, I’m glad I came. Then we go to lunch. Nice service, we’re waited on. Good.
Now it’s over. I want to go back to the recital room, I want to get my hands on the organ! I want to play the piano. But people see Lois there: immediately the room fills up: same people who’d seen her recital two hours before. I’d wanted peace, solitude. It was OK for Lois to hear me, she knows I’m a novice, never mind my age: self-taught in middle age, haltingly accomplished in old age. Lois is 91 or so, I’m 69 or 70. The room fills, Lois takes her place at her keyboard. A second recital is silently being demanded. Grumble. I didn’t need to hear the first one: I hear Lois all the time, I want her as a teacher, a guide, someone who knows the chords, someone who can nudge me: I already took my turn being audience.
But I still and endure it. Lois plays for another damn hour. She plays I Left My Heart, in San Francisco. She says to the assembley, “Are there any requests.” Hmm … A very old woman, shrunken, shriveled, says, “I Left My Heart, in San Francisco“. No objects, none from Lois either. I keep silent. It’s assent. Lois plays the same song again, plays it the same. Another pause. “Anything else”? … “I Left My Heart, in San Francisco“. Lois plays it, a third time in a row! And she’d also already played it once in her original recital, just before lunch!
I met Jan, I stopped going to those dances. Lois I know though deteriorated, moved into Fairway Pines herself.
scrapbook development may follow
Reminds me of Arthur C. Clark’s immortal story the Nine Billion Names of God. The monks aid their calculations with a computer, test the myth that if all names were utters, the universe would cease to exist: the scientist looks up and sees the stars starting to wink out.
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