Archives for: September 2006, 13
When I arrived, 30-odd-years ago, as a transfer student at my new university in New England, I was required to meet with my assigned Academic Dean to discuss my previous education and be awarded however many credits for it he'd deem appropriate. His secretary showed me to a chair in his office, saying he'd be back in a couple of minutes. I couldn't remain seated, however, once I'd spotted an entire wall full of artifacts on display. I was standing and examining the many unlabeled photographs, paddles, totems and what-have-you, when he entered.
"Are you interested in my collection?" he asked.
"Yes, very", I replied. "These would appear to be Kwakiutl--"
"Amazing!" he exclaimed. "How is it you know about the Kwakiutl?" (I was, after all, only 18, and hailed from New York).
We chatted of Pacific Northwest cultures, and of potlatches in particular...
There I was, the maturing child who'd loved the Addams Family in former years for the exoticness we shared (cf. 7/20/06 Blog: "Lugubreity"), grateful that my dean (whose pipe tobacco was so beautifully aromatic: "Dark berries? Blackcurrant? Maybe Fig?") recognized my every freshman credit, as well as my intelligence and potential: B-meets-B, for sure!
But the world is not always so kind to B's. We enter Modernity glowing with unappreciated desert virtues, endowed with unusual wares and talents viewed by most as odd. We can read signs and portents, knowing-what-we-know, and then: Movin' On. Yes, we move on, with the seasons (Think: Mary Poppins and the wind-change).
Alexander Besher, writing under the auspices of Toshitaka Nomi in 1983 (You Are Your Blood Type), claims that B's are romantically promiscuous, but -- in my case anyway -- that's a serious misread. I think, rather, that B's are collectors of knowledge, connoisseurs of experience: A minority of us might indeed choose the sexual realm for such exploration (à la Seinfeld), but this is by no means our "norm".
I've found that quite a number of B's have resided in at least one country other than their native one. B's may also be religious converts, and/or be a member of a family in which one or more members are such. B's can be immigrants, eccentrics, "tumbleweeds", racking up a broad range of life experience (and, in my case, books).
A TV character I'd identify as quintessentially B, as well as my own alter ego, is Wilson, next-door neighbor to the Taylors on "Home Improvement". Wilson is a scholar whose specialized interests cover a wide scope. He's not only intellectual, but creative, as well as interpersonally wise enough to deliver spot-on Real Life advice, daily, to Tim, Jill, and each boy. He's quite earthy, however, not using his knowledge to earn himself entrée into a society he prefers to, if anything, observe.
I'd welcome such a neighbor. We could quiz each other, over coffee, on History, rather than pursuing the proverbial dinner-and-a-movie...unless it were a documentary, of course. GROUP History-quizzing is covered by the game of "Botticelli/20 questions", should there be many such neighbors. Fiction-free literary Charades is another enjoyable social activity for B introverts, as is Foreign Language Scrabble or Boggle. Less intellectual B's, I grant you, certainly exist. Seinfeld would probably enjoy Superman-Trivia or Baseball-facts Pictionary. Somewhat higher-brow worldly B's might go out for Fashion-Designer Scrabble, Artist/Gallery Hangman, or Oenology Hollywood Squares.
B's in the Western World are unaccustomed to massive doses of B company, outside, perhaps, our own families. B's generally don't fill stadia. We make our own way across steppe and dune, pass and gap, with our herds and flocks, a hound or two, and a falcon. Yes, in simpler times and places, we brought these to the annual markets, exchanging news and information with fellow shepherds and with various A-farmers interested in our livestock, rugs, and crafts.
A's and B's can "do business". A's (the "research librarians") can be fascinated by/learn alot from B navigators. We dish up dirt from other lands and bring it 'round for-your-edification. O-Hunters, on the other hand, come across us Nomads and wonder how they can bag some easy loot. However, they're often surprised by, and even admiring of, our wilderness-honed canniness.
But we B's certainly have the lowdown. Some are gossips; others are mystics with the Word from On High. Some are anthropologists. Not all are highly educated, let alone erudite, but "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary" we are, to-a-man: Unafraid of being found "different"/oddball in the great Hunter/Farmer crowd that populates the world.
The wandering B polishes and relishes the myriad contents of his medicine-bag: Star-crossed moments of social alignment and shared story, smells of likeminded campfire (or pipe tobacco), admirers of our artifacts and collections.