Decameron Tale #11

DECAMERON TALE #11     July 5, 2020

I come from the land of steady habits.  We’ve lived in the same house for over 40 years.  Until recently, our home was known as the “Rankin place”.  (The Rankins, Leonard and Myra, moved out in 1947.)  Likewise, my letter carrier has covered the same territory for decades.  A woman of admirable consistency, I can count on delivery within a few moments on either side of 10:30AM.  That is until recently.  The van, driven by a young male, started showing up at all manner of outlandish times, even after Noon!  

Finally, after a few days she was back in the van for the proper delivery time.  I was determined to have words.  I fear that I spoke with some directness:  “Where have you been?”  She responded that she was training.  I said “I missed you!”  That was the absolute truth.  I missed my prompt mail delivery, although I can see where there might have been some misunderstanding.  She explained that she was in the back of the van observing her Sat. relief driver. 

We have exchanged a considerable repertoire of bandiage over the years.  When I in inquired if the van was equipped for cozy naps during her training days, she complained that it was too hot to sleep.

After all these years, I know rather a lot about her.  She’s fortyish, has a delicious sense of humor, is a gardener and if fond of green beans.  She visits my free produce stand without fail every summer.  More than I know about most entirely casual acquaintances.  But I don’t know her name.  Somehow a signifier is expected.  To me her name is Mehitable.  It perfectly frames her persona.  (See collected stories of “Archie and Mehitable”.)

I’m more and more convinced that it is a grave injustice to slap a name, willy nilly, onto an infant’s birth certificate.  It should be a bar code.  The same unique identifier is then tattooed onto the little nipper’s backside.  If it’s good for books, it’s good for baby bottoms.  Later, in the fullness of years, when the child’s personality is formed and its station in life is clear, a proper name can be associated with the tat in a solemn, uplifting ceremony followed by a bacchanalian party.

The benefits of this scheme extend for one’s lifetime.  Teachers would be provided with a tool to enhance the numerical literacy of the children.  “Now class today we shall have snap quiz.  Add the second digit of your code to the fifth, subtract the fourth and multiply by the seventh.”  At a more advance lever:  “Calculate the square roof of the third and fifth digits.  Add the two and solve for the square root for the result.  If a simple integer, is it a prime number?  Show your work.”

Airport lines would be a thing of the past.  Instead of waiting for a gimlet-eyed TSA agent suspiciously poured over your ID and struggled to decide if the phot was really you, he’d simply scan your tat and you would be on your way.

I’ve always found that life is so much easier if you cut to the ….. heart of the matter.



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