Two people in different contexts today have said that my handwriting resembles a code.1 Two people in my life have wrongly assumed that I write in Arabic.2 Two houses that I've visited in Montreal have had a VHS copy of Black Dog in their living rooms.3

Those are all the twos I have for you today.

1Yesterday my wife (The Lotus) bought me a small notebook, and I decided quickly, after a bit of experiment, that I preferred to stretch my lines across the crease instead of writing short, crabbed lines down each page. I thought my decision represented the kind of innovative dehors la boîte thinking that maverick business leaders are slavering for these days. The Lotus thought it made for a really crude code. Later that very same day my mother peeked over my shoulder and remarked that my handwriting had reached such a pitch of illegibility that it looked like code. I was tempted to argue, but when I reviewed my notes I found that I couldn't read half of what I'd written. Today I reviewed them once more and found that I'd been writing in code to my Christian base.

2Seven or so years ago, somewhere in the horse latitudes of my English degree, I met Jim C_____, a grad student in his mid-forties writing a thesis on Shakespeare's histories. We shared a class in bibliography & methodology. The thing that always stuck in my mind about Jim, besides his small but slightly bulging blue eyes, was that his ruddy brown face and dun-tinged red beard seemed to merge into each other, so that when viewed at a slight distance or from the corner of my eye, he seemed to be suffering from neurofibromatosis or some other disfiguring disease. Everybody called him Red-Faced Jim, which on the whole was politer than Fibrous-Faced Jim or Mr. Merrick. And believe me, calling him Red-Faced Jim was far more polite than what we called another woman in our class whose lips always seemed to be slightly pulled back from her long sharp teeth. We called her Shark Face. Although, latched as she was to the underside of our prof, devouring scraps of praise, she had more in common with a remora. But I digress. And I'm tired of telling you this story, so I'll get to the point. He thought I was Arab and that I took my notes in Arabic, since my complexion is olive (although I never hear anyone specifying what kind of olive) and my handwriting is an uncomfortable contradiction of angles and flourishes, sharp slashes and arabesques. A couple of months ago a coworker wondered if I wrote in Arabic as well. For those of you who read me, I'll let you in on a secret: the arabesques really are Arabic. I'm writing in code to my Arab base.

3That's a long story involving a Montreal Country & Western bar that burned down back in 1972, a financial services advisor who drinks green tea, a volunteer fireman with an anger management problem, and very very incidentally, Hugh Segal. Ask me about it some time.