March 17, 2010

Present!



I've been reading a little about the Census. Our government's been at it since 1790, you know; the first one under the supervision of then–Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. In the old days, there were no actual questions about race; the Census rep, who visited each home in person, simply recorded the race based on his/her (probably his) observation. And to account for incomplete data, the number crunchers in the bureau utilize something known as "hot-deck imputation," which is almost certainly the title of a Census-themed porn movie somewhere out there.

And now, thanks to the Census, here's what the U.S. government knows about me:

— My address. Don't you know? I live on Park Avenue in the 60s, with Willis and Arnold.

— I live alone. I was surprised that with all the caveats and provisos, the form didn't specify that you should not include pets in your household head count. My cat was staring at me rather inquisitively as I filled out the form, a moment when it was especially hard not to anthropomorphize her. There are many, many American citizens more deluded than I, so guarantee that some lunatic will attempt to declare his canary to be an official resident.

— No one will be staying with me on April 1, 2010, though it's a Thursday night, so you never know, maybe I'll get lucky.

— I own my home. Well, a cold, heartless bank owns my home. But that's the American way.

— My telephone number: 555-555-5555. Again, I live with Arnold and Willis.

— My name: Tarnow, Noah, I.

— I am A MAN!!!!!!!!

— My age and date of birth. 34, b. 07/14/1975. You probably guessed pretty close, though, right?

— I am not Hispanic. This is immaterial to my race. That's all well and good—anyone can be from anywhere—but let's be honest, the only reason they ask this question is because so many people consider it to be a racial designation. And are there really that many Hispanic Guamanians? (I don't know, maybe there thousands of them; I make the same assumption as most people, that there are, like, seven people in all of Guam.)

— I am white, though I strongly considered filling in "Some other race." (I was going to write "hipster dufus.") I don't care that much, but it slightly bothers me that "white" is the catchall for "not any of these other, clearly more interesting things." The Census distinguishes between Chamorro and Samoan, and among various American Indian groups—as it should. But I, the New Jersey–born, part-Canadian Jew, product of eight Semitic immigrants from the shetls of Eastern Europe, am racially identical to Shitkicker McGee from Texarkana. Yeah, okay.

— I do not "sometimes live or stay someplace else." This is strictly not accurate. I sometimes stay with friends, I sometimes stay with my family when I visit them, I sometimes stay in a hotel room on vacation. I once slept in a Dunkin' Donuts, for fuck's sake. But I figured that this was the answer the U.S. government would want me to submit. See, I know how those bureaucrats think.

That's it. I am here. I've been counted. Move along…

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