I keep my laptop plugged in next to my corner of the couch and, at night, it sits atop a milk-crate full of records. Some are new—Walkmen and National; there are some plastic-sleeved Smiths bootlegs; most are a bunch of thrift store finds, the Reddings the Beatles, the Dylans. The milk-crate is perfumed, slightly, with attic effluvia.

If you know birds, you’ll know that to truffle their feathers is akin to taking in the comfortable smell of a hall closet, a wardrobe of old wool and mothballs. Musty, in a good sense. That’s how old records smell, too, else old books.

There’s some transference late at night, some communiqué between the records and the laptop.

When I needle Cayden to, please, just pick up a book, he’ll roll his eyes and unswervingly say: “But, Daddy—I’m moodern.” He prefers his electronics, the movie versions of things, all the things I eschewed as a kid while I plied through the 1958 Encyclopedia Brittanicas my parents had on hand. There was also the aged Merriam-Webster with its laminate thumb indexes. It teemed with silverfish, and silverfish: they live off of carbohydrates. The dictionary, having a thousand pages of starch, always proved good home and a constant buffet.

Cayden did read ‘The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe’, so he understands the figurative intrigue of closets at least, the cedar and mink and mothy perfumes that exist before fantastical exit out the back wall of cupboards.

But he doesn’t understand reading, has no patience for it. I mentioned transference, and despite not having kept company with silverfish, Cayde still manages to best me with knowledge he picks up from wherever the place.

Dylan jokes: are you with Pound or Eliot; Morrissey says Wilde is on his side while Keats and Yeats are on yours. Cayde announces: “I saw this on YouTube…”

Second bit of transference: because my laptop sits atop a basement supply of records, currently a pediment of Buffalo Springfield and John Lennon Live from NYC, I’ll occasionally open my laptop to write and a silverfish will fishtail across the QWERTY, probably having lived in the laptop for a night, confused at the lack of starch. Literal bugs in the system, probably transfused from some record or other, querying the silicon and CPU and assorted drivers.

I’m modern, too, Cayden; but I still keep company with the dictionary-eaters. We’ll both at some point win here.


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