En route to the Record Emporium, we stumbled (almost literally) into dear Caesar Emeritus, who explained to me he was off to collect some more ancient Xanaduvian Dead Tree Scrolls. Dear Caesar seemed very excited about translation progress he'd been making since our return from Dew Mound near the center of Flatlandia. And he reminded me, of course, that I was not going to make much progress in learning our ancient language so long as Caw-Caw Carl was doing my homework assignments for me. "I know, I know, dear Caesar. Of course you are right," I replied, and I was about to finally introduce him and Yana, but then something I thought strange happened:
Yana seemed to be introducing herself to dear Caesar, but she spoke in words I didn't understand. Caesar smiled and embraced her and replied to her--also in words I didn't understand. Yana and dear Caesar continued conversing in this foreign language until I finally broke in to ask them if they already knew each other, and to explain that I couldn't understand this language they were speaking.
Yana smiled at me, wrapped her arm around mine once again, and pulled me closer to her as she chuckled, "Aww, silly Sweetcheeks Kev...of course we don't know each other! That's Latin, darlin'!"
I replied, "We don't want any trouble here--not in ANY language."
Both Yana and dear Caesar let out a hearty laugh after that, then Caesar explained to me, "No trouble at all, Mr. Kev. We were only discussing the beauty of our beloved Xanadu Forest, and how much both of us enjoy being here. She speaks very highly of you, by the way. As did I in return, of course." Then Yana winked at me, dear Caesar hugged us both, and the Baloo-eyed Akita was off into the thickness of our Xanadu Forest. Yana and I found ourselves at the Record Emporium not so many steps after that, though she had the chance to comment how much she enjoyed meeting dear Caesar Emeritus. And just how wise he was. I concurred, of course.
T-Yay the nice nice Black Labrador retriever and Ptolemy the gentle Boxer were quite busy cross-training one another inside the Record Emporium when Yana and I walked in on them. "It looks as though you're both doing a fine job being each other's assistants!" I said, a bit louder than I needed to.
Before I could properly introduce Yana, T-Yay had already set down a stack of record albums he was filing, apporoached Yana, and told her, "Hey! Nice nice G n' R shirt! Illusion tour, no? Official merch? Nice nice!" Then he extended his paw to her, but Yana wrapped her arms around him and pulled him in for a warm embrace.
"Yes, super Fab Lab, you!" Yana exclaimed. Then she turned to me and said, "I dig this dude! And he's a handsome one at that!"
I responded, "Yes, Yana, T-Yay here is the best record album hunter our lands have ever known. He can smell quality vinyl from many miles away." Then I pointed toward Ptolemy who was shuffling through the stack of record albums T-Yay had just set down, and I told Yana, "And this is Ptolemy the gentle Boxer...maker of the best ice cream in all of Interterrestria. Ptolemyce Cream we call it." Ptolemy finally set down the record albums and went to embrace Yana. He welcomed her most pleasantly, of course. I went on to explain to the two mutually assistant managers that Yana was Vanya's niece, and that she was very much enjoying her time visiting our beloved Xanadu Forest.
Just then, Ptolemy turned his head away and pointed over toward the corner and asked me, "Umm, Mr. Kev, what exactly is Yana doing?" All three of our heads swung in that direction at once, and I of course wondered the same.
I approached Yana, who had ripped the intercom off the wall and was now twisting together some wires. "Umm, what are you doing, Yana?" I asked, careful to not shout at her, remembering the agreement we had made with each other many steps earlier.
"Oh, I'm re-wiring this intercom, Sweetcheeks Kev," she replied, and continued, "I don't like people listening in on my conversations without my permission. Not even your beautiful gatekeeper. It runs in the family, you know." Seemingly satisfied with her work, Yana tucked the wires back into the back of the intercom box and snapped it back up onto the wall. "There. Now we can talk freely." And she slapped some drywall dust off her paws to properly signify a job that was well done.
T-Yay and Ptolemy only shrugged their shoulders at me when I looked at them, none of us apparently knowing what I should say. I shut my eyes, inhaled deeply (but gently) then exhaled slowly, measuredly, and simply said, "Fair enough, Yana. Thank you."
"Don't worry, Sweetcheeks," Yana said playfully, and continued, "I can put it back the way it was once we're done here. In the meantime, I've fixed it so we can listen to Madeleine but she can't hear us!" And Yana giggled. Then she turned a knob on the front of the intercom and asked us all to listen. T-Yay and Ptolemy rushed over and gathered by our sides. We all heard an odd sort of crunching sound, and took turns speculating what the mysterious sound might be. Then we heard the sound of an Albino Peacock (Peahen) humming what seemed to be a U2 song...but the lyrics had been changed:
"Through the lunch we reach the kale,
You grew it all but I want more,
And I'm crunching on you.
With or without you,
With or without you,
I can't live,
With or without you"
We all snickered mightily after that, and T-Yay and Yana were nearly doubled over with humor. Then T-Yay finally chimed in with, "That's so awesome and nice nice, Yana! You HAVE to teach me how to do this."
Yana replied, "Sorry, Fab Lab, it's an anti-establishment secret. Comes in particularly handy at universities...at least when I'm the one teaching the class." T-Yay laughed again and tossed Yana another nonchalant "Nice nice." Ptolemy silently disappeared into the back room
It was clear that Yana and T-Yay were bonding quickly, and I wasn't sure this was a good thing just yet. Plus what Yana said truly surprised me. So I interrupted and asked her, "Wait! Yana, you're a teacher?!!"
"A professor, to be specific, Sweetcheeks Kev. A PhD in communication, to be more specific," she replied.
I re-replied, "Oh wow! And I was thinking you were a student! I really might be as stupid as you were thinking I was." Then the three of us chuckled.
"I never really thought you were stupid, Sweetcheeks, I'm just super careful about who I let my guard down with is all. I sort of test people before I open up to them, you know. I know that's not nice, and not always fair, but it's how I survive. For the record, you passed my tests with flying colors, Kev. You are nice. Too nice, even, sometimes."
Just then, Ptolemy the gentle Boxer returned with four bowls of his now mostly famous Ptolemyce Cream and said to all of us, "This seems like such a happy occasion, and a happy occasion requires the very best Ptolemyce Cream, you know!" Then Ptolemy handed off the bowls to each of us and added, "Butter pecan, made from dandelion milk. Fresh from the churn!" Then he held his bowl high in the air as he could reach, and exclaimed, "Cheers!" We all tapped each other's wooden bowls and enjoyed.
Then T-Yay said, "You know what else a nice nice occasion like this needs? A soundtrack!" He set down his bowl and played a record for us all at just the proper volume. It was The Clash's "London Calling." A happy occasion instantly became a magical occasion. T-Yay was so right!
"Oh yay, it's Joey!" Yana exclaimed, and added, "So very nice nice, T-Yay!" And she turned to Ptolemy and said, "And this Ptolemyce Cream is amazing! Truly the best trreat I've ever had." Ptolemy bowed and thanked her for the kind compliment. Then Yana said to all of us--and to no one at all--"Such a happy and magical occasion indeed! I'm so going to love it here in our blessed Xanadu Forest."
"Joey?" T-Yay and I asked Yana in unison.
"Yes, little Joey Strummer, you sillies!" Yana replied. "He used to be one of my students, you know." Then she looked all of us in the eyes to make sure she had our undivided attention (save eating Ptolemyce Cream) and continued, "Axl Rose was once of my students too. And Eric Clapton. And many many more names you might know well. But it's a long, long story. Many stories, actually."
Ptolemy the gentle Boxer gestured for all of us to sit down on the floor, and so we all did. I didn't say it out loud, but our seated formation made me think of a Dogwood flower. I also wondered secretly if any of the others thought of this. I never found out. My thoughts were disrupted when Ptolemy spoke, "It's one of the beautiful ironies of our beautiful Xanadu Forest...that since we neither keep nor even believe in time, we actually have all the time there ever was--and even more still."
We all smiled. And T-Yay the Fab Lab played us many more records. And Yana, the precious black bear Mafia niece, shared with us so many wondrous tales of her past students. Not all were musicians, though many of them were. And not all were famous, but most of them were, it seemed. It became clear through the course of the moon-greeting that Yana had a particular fondness for drummers. But none of us spoke aloud of that, of course. As Yana had wisely stated earlier, this was indeed a most happy and magical occasion. One that I will forever be grateful for.
And though we don't observe or even believe in time here in my imaginary world, it was a most precious moment we all shared that I hope never to forget.
Life is beautiful beautiful.
Thank you. All of you.
Gratitude of gratitudes.
Lovely of lovelies.
I love you.