“Regi?” Mary exclaims then “Shh!” and signs “Regi?” I sign “Yes” and she slaps my face. She signs “Watch your sentence” or maybe “language!”
“I can’t. I’m too busy watching yours!” “Shh!” This is going quietly downhill. My cheek throbs and my arms are tired. “Can we meet outside?”
“Meet me at the milk and sugar joint down the street in ten minutes. We can talk there.” I sign “OK” and she takes another swing at me.
I duck under her blow and waddle rapidly out the door. I really have to brush up on my American Sign Language. Or update my ASL phone app.
Through a dingy hallway maze, a tumbling flight down uncertain stairs, a hop, a skip and I’m jumping to the street at the Vitagraph plaque.
Someone had scratched on the plaque bottom “Lasciate ogne voce, voi ch’intrate.” It’s Greek to me. I open my free universal translation app.
I recite the text and the translator shows “Best guess: Italian ‘Leave your voice at the door’.” So Mary lied. We could have spoken Italian.
Vitagraph Motion Picture Studio. A century ago countless actors handed over their freedom of speech for a chance to work in silent movies.
What was the exception is now the rule in corporate America, where you abandon your constitutional rights at the entrance as you walk in.
What about Mary? By consenting to sign had she hand-over-handed her own constitutional free speech rights? Did she only sign to deceive?
There are twelve ways to find out. Instead I head west, convinced my app misinterpreted her hand signed “milk and sugar joint” description.
I look for a seedy bar, lowdown diner or some other dive to wait for Mary Kwitecontrari, med school Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid.
I hope for barbeque but most shops are shuttered. The only open “joint” is a charming tea shop with overstuffed chairs and an elongated bar.
Taking a seat beside the polished antique Georgian mahogany, I contemplate wormholes. The barkeep is a hairy hulk who has seen better days.
“Set ’em up. Keep ’em coming” I tell the barkeep. Looking me over with obvious disdain, she slides a glass full of a milky substance my way.
“I take a sip and spit it out. What is this?” “Milk” she replies. “I don’t drink milk. What else you got?” “We got milk.” “That’s it?”
“We got whole, 2%, 1%, skim, organic, rBST free, lactose free.” “Only milk?” “Maybe some Kefir or kumis in back.” “Any coffee?” “No. Milk.”
“I take it black anyway.” “Your milk?” “No, my coffee.” “Also, check the back shelf. We carry a complete selection of natural sweeteners.”
“Sweeteners?” “Name your poison. We got sucrose, glucose, dextrose, fructose, maltose, and trehalose.” “Trehalose?” “Yeah, the good stuff.”
Bins of powders or liquids line the wall. Above, Tansey’s “The Innocent Eye Test” contemplates bovine art appreciation. http://bit.ly/ZXzBq4
“We got honey, maple syrup, coconut palm sugar and sorghum.” “I don’t drink milk.” “Want a fruit punch?” I’m not falling for that one again.
(The Twitter Mystery continues daily at @Twitstery)