Tuesday, March 24, 2020


I tried Goggling myself this morning to see if I really exist. I do not. Maybe I'm too analog in this digital age and have been struck from the grand ledger. There are many Norm Levine impostors or what I like to think of as my generic equivalents but, I suspect, we all prefer to regard ourselves as the name brand.

There are Levines noted for their norms and other Norms who didn’t know how to spell their last name having dropped the final e. Then there are Levines as in serene and other Levines whose name rhymes with divine or sublime. I’m more comfortable with serenity than divinity. Maybe the Levin name was designed to resonate with heaven. Granted the better climate up there, to paraphrase Mark Twain, but all my friends would probably be in hell.

There’s someone using my name who finished a marathon race crossing the finish-line from the wrong direction. Then there was my namesake who is some hot-shot insurance salesman. This must be my disowned self. I couldn’t sell Greenland to Trump.

When I had my own pharmacy there were seven of us in the San Fernando Valley, alone. One was a customer for a while. I couldn’t help giving him preferential treatment.

Driving through the Hudson River Valley we slammed on the brakes having spotted a bookstore whose proprietor bore my name. I met the man and noted he was my age. Apparently British names were in vogue circa 1933 especially for Jewish families wishing to dis-identify with the Old World. In fact this Norm Levine had a brother named Mitchell which was my brother’s middle name.

Here’s a Norm Levine who was a much-admired Canadian writer of short-stories, poetry and novels. He died with an impressive body of work. I see his obit from fifteen years ago. If that’s me it must have slipped my mind.

Googling oneself can be a deflating experience. Proceed at your own peril. If you are not listed better check the mirror or call your mother. There were times in my life when anonymity was devoutly to be wished for. I can remember how I wore a shirt to class in college which I hoped would blend into the seat rendering me invisible. The subject was Physical Chemistry which required us to memorize structural formulas. I should have known then to change my major.

Come to think of it being un-noted in this info-glut is quite an achievement. Something like leaving a zero carbon footprint. Living all these years without a trace…but famous among huntsmen and herdsmen, in the words of Dylan Thomas. Those adventurers were merely the imaginary friends of his youth.

Oh, here I am on page three. Just another one among many Norm Levines. That suits me fine. Maybe I’ll make page one posthumously. Given the threat of all Creatures Great and Small I should probably start planning my afterlife. I wonder if we have any input as to our next incarnation. There are so many rooms in the mansion I’ve never visited and Google has yet to take notice.

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