Your long—and I do mean extended, interminable, protracted, unending—census form appeared in my mailbox. I dutifully took it into my unfortunately untidy house where, with alarming alacrity, it vanished somewhere into the piles of books, papers, folders, and other implementia of the lunatic scholarship I have steadfastly adhered to since my college days. To make a long story short (without footnotes and works cited), I can't find the damn form. I presume this means I won't get any of the "federal" money I've never gotten any of anyway, upon which you seem to place so much importance with this particular census.
I can't possibly recall all of the questions you asked, but certainly I noticed that you were quite exuberant in the question-asking department! How in the world did you come up with all these questions? Oh I know, by not inhaling, of course. I'll simply have to do my best to answer what I remember of the approximately 87 kzillion questions.
I presume that you will allow me to answer you in the form of a letter. It's much more human that way, don't you think? You federal bureaucrats must need a nice human touch after all the dry, boring statistical nonsense you have to deal with daily. At any rate, I'm sure you'll have a machinegun carrying swat team come by to inform me if a letter simply wasn't appropriate.
Number two is performed daily, and yes, output matches input. Number one happens much more often since I drink the FDA-regulated 8 glasses of water plus some. I also drink other liquids, but I don't recall that question being asked and I'd lie through my teeth if it was. No, I haven't noticed tapeworms, lawyers, or any other parasites—but why do you ask? You can't tell me you need even MORE political candidates running for office. If Hillary and Al Gore can't satisfy you, then I don't believe I can either.
There are no illegal aliens living in my house who would vote Democrat. Sorry. And what was that about Chamorro? I'm not even sure where Chamorro is or what it is. It sure sounds tasty, though. I think a bit of Brie and Chamorro with Carr's Water Bisquits sounds grand, with just a touch of smoked salmon and a nice, chilled Chardonnay...
On the how I get to work section of the census, I usually walk, but when it is really snowy and a tad icy, I skeetch.* Drivers of the cars I skeetch on have gotten pretty ornery lately—have you noticed that? Apparently you haven't or I'm sure you would have asked.
How much I make? Surely you jest! I work at a University so of course I make squat, being that I'm not one of the high-falutin' PhD's who can't even figure out how to use the photocopier. (I believe that covers your education question.) How you figure squat into your economical determinations for your redistribution plans is, of course, up to you.
There are three adults here, but two of them are of the feline race. I noticed, in that brief instant before the census form disappeared into the piles of books, papers, implementia, etc., that you did not include feline in the race category, nor Irish in the ethnicity category, and I can only suppose it must be for the same reason—whatever that is.
As for disabilities, me and the felines have a few. I sometimes can't remember where I put my now necessary reading glasses (there's your age question). The felines do like to eat too much, but that is healthily limited by the aforementioned squat.
I know I am not remembering all the questions—how many flushing toilets? Was that one? How many spoons in the silverware drawer? How many bedrooms and hallways? I don't recall a single book-related question, however, as if you had, with Olympian non feasance, already assumed that there would not be any. Hah! I'll allow you your Supreme Ignorance on that one.
Oh yes, you did want to know about the kitchen facilities. They're quite nice, thank you, and I'll try to have a pot of Great Spotted Suck Toad soup on the stove when your people come by. The GSST is a magnificiently undervalued resouce, by the way—a bit of information that you actually didn't ask for. The soup will be almost as tasty as Chamorro sounds.
There. I figure I have now done more than my patriotic citizenship duty in answering as best I can, considering the amount of the other liquids I've consumed in writing this. It is St. Paddy's Week, after all.
Thank you, dear Census Bureau, for keeping this precious information in the deepest confidentiality of which I know you, as federal bureaucrats, are so vastly capable.
March 17, 2000
*When I said no footnotes, I lied. I hope this will not get me tossed in the hoosegow. Skeeching is when there is snow and a bit of ice on the streets. The skeecher then runs over to a moving vehicle and grabs onto the bumper and goes for a slide. For some reason, this can inordinately annoy careful and responsible drivers.
Patricia Neill is managing editor of a scholarly journal on the life and work of William Blake, the 18th-century artist and poet.
© 2000 by Patricia Neill