I open my mail, and already I have to smile. I click on your name, and there you are, measuring the secret distances between my words, the hidden associations, then snapping your folding ruler shut like a handyman, smug with bemusement. I’ve never even heard your voice, but I can already hear the nasal Viennese, the flattened vowels. I laugh. We’re both supposed to be working, we’re both on deadline, but it’s so much more fun to misbehave, play hooky for a change. You test the waters of my jealousy, disconcerted that I don’t bat an eyelash. I’m less coy than you think possible; you “test my mettle” and I patiently, maddeningly no doubt, elucidate the mechanisms that have long since been disengaged. I am a Jack-in-the-Box who no longer pops out, a defective Juliette-in-the-Box, a dented can on the back of the shelf.
“Are you translating? You’re not, you monkey, because I see you smiling.”