“Name That Plant”

In Food, Fun, Games, Hautvoir, Names and Titles, proto drafts, Sanford Meisner on August 21, 2015 at 9:34 am

Hard to explain (because someone’s asked? says the voice in my head).

Yes, I asked, I reply. I asked the characters: every time I suggest a possible explanation for your behavior or a clear path for your march onward, why do you all choose to behave otherwise?

None of them answer of course. Or, if pressed, they digress further. Any surprise if the name Jimmy suggested itself for one of the characters in this foray into story land? One of the boys I coached was called Jimmy. He had the clearest white skin imaginable, with a blueish tinge where the veins showed through, pink cheeks and light brown eyes. Plus a stubborn streak that started at the soles of his feet and ended somewhere above his head. No way would Jimmy give the expected answer to a standard question. He was some kind of dummy, that he had to tell me three plus four equalled seven? I didn’t know this already? I didn’t know he knew? Could we please leave the obvious alone and play word games and who’s the sliest of them all instead?

Coaching Jimmy was tricky business because we had to waste so much precious time on the drills. Only managed to do that – approximately one time out of four – by reminding him my livelihood was at stake. If the children didn’t show any progress in the required programs, how would I keep my job?

Jimmy was stubborn but his heart was free for the taking. He’d confirm that three plus four added up to seven, and so did four plus three, in case I wanted to know.


A park? No, a tiny square crammed into an empty space between two buildings. One bench, one large tree with tough glossy leaves. One motorized food cart that sold one specialty only. The specialty dripped through the pita. The tiny non-absorbent napkin was no help. The only solution was to bend from the waist, bite into the pita and let bits of the egg cooked on eggplant, zucchini and tomato drip down, along with the tahini slathered on the mix called shakshuka. The air smelled of green things, guava and raw cement. I pretended I was not alone – at least, I told myself invisible presences were a pretense because, years earlier, I had learned the hard way imaginary friends belong to the realm of the unmentionable.

Nowadays, imaginary friends nod and smile at my good manners. Then they take over my forays into story land and wreak havoc on my thought processes.

“Name that plant,” one of them orders. The others giggle and throw out names. Ginger! Galangal! O-7!”

whatever. Hello? Jimmy? Is that you?



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