Wednesday, June 13, 2007

First Exposure

I've been wondering when I first was made aware of the existence of Freemasonry. As far as I can remember, I've always known of the Masons... I just never knew much of anything about them until these last couple of weeks. I learned vaguely about the aprons in high school courtesy of the Architect sketch, and I remember finding a pamphlet at Jay's Diner (of all places!) maybe 12 years ago that dispelled my long-held assumption that you had to be the son of a Mason to join.

Today I realized that my first exposure was probably in The Cask of Amontillado, a short story by Edgar Allen Poe. I was probably 9 or 10 when I first read that story, and the narrator's wry joke about Masonry would have been confusing enough for me to ask one of my parents for an explanation:
I broke and reached him a flaçon of De Grâve. He emptied it at a breath. His eyes flashed with a fierce light. He laughed and threw the bottle upwards with a gesticulation I did not understand.

I looked at him in surprise. He repeated the movement — a grotesque one.

"You do not comprehend ?" he said.

"Not I," I replied.

"Then you are not of the brotherhood."

"How ?"

"You are not of the masons."

"Yes, yes," I said; "yes, yes."

"You ? Impossible ! A mason ?"

"A mason," I replied.

"A sign," he said, "a sign."

"It is this," I answered, producing from beneath the folds of my roquelaire a trowel.

"You jest," he exclaimed, recoiling a few paces. "But let us proceed to the Amontillado."

A great story, that one. Hmmm, I'm off to bed with a quaint and curious volume of Poe.

No comments: