Friday, August 10, 2007

The Availability of Geniuses

Yesterday I finally broke down and bought myself an ipod. The Apple store was packed, so I had to wait in line to check out. Behind the checkout counter was a large monitor which provided little lessons and tips. The screen also periodically posted the list of names of customers waiting for service. Then the screen lit up with this:
Sorry, no more geniuses are available today.
Please come back tomorrow.
For some reason, that made me laugh. At the Apple store the upper level tech support people have the job title "genius." I almost think I'd like to apply for a job there so that when someone asks what I do for a living, I can say, "I'm a genius." And maybe some days I won't be available.

As I thought about this with delight the rest of the day, it occurred to me that part of my pleasure was in the poetic moment of it, the pure joy we poets take in words and how they are used and how we love to be ambushed by the unexpected word. The element of surprise that we strive for--there it was on the monitor.

And I recalled another such moment just a few weeks ago. Our electrical box blew up one Sunday night. Lots of action followed--cop cars, fire engines, flashing lights, sirens, all the neighbors outside waiting to see what disaster had come onto our street. But no burning house. Just a dark, dark house. The next day the electrician hooked us back up temporarily while he ordered parts. The following Monday he showed up with his son, maybe 14 years old, a boy he's training in the intricacies of electricity. I heard him teaching his son the names of things. And then I heard him call the boy "honey." I felt deeply touched by that. So sweet, so unexpected. I don't think I've ever before heard a man call his son "honey," so it surprised and delighted me. It seemed like poetry.

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