How ironic that, as intellectuals and aesthetes, those of us who live by words may underestimate the power of the words we speak or write. Just the other day I was in pleasant conversation with a talented versifier when he happened to mention the name "Lilith." Although he was referring to the radical feminist magazine that may or may not still exist, there is no doubt that the real Lilith still exists just as she has since the time of Adam. And to utter her name without quickly pretending to spit twice over one's right shoulder is asking for serious trouble.
Lilith (spit, spit!) as some of you may know, was Adam's first wife. When she affronted the Creator by insisting on "unorthodox" relations with her husband, she was banished from Eden and spent the next 500 years at the bottom of the ocean. Finally she surfaced, determined to wreak as much havoc as possible in human domestic affairs.
When Lilith hears a man mention her name, she surmises (quite correctly!) that a secret wish for her appearance exists in the speaker. Of course, as with any repressed wish, the poor fool may not be aware of his own desire. That's why Lilith always appears in disguise. The new temp at the office, the Fedex delivery girl, the grad student in need of help with her thesis -- any or all of these may be Lilith. But those potential incarnations are relatively easy to resist. Lilith is much more dangerous when she manifests as a man's own wife!
If a woman appears and sounds like his wife, a man -- and especially a poet, naive by nature -- may assume the woman is his wife indeed: "If it looks like a duck..." etc. He may also forget that he spoke the forbidden name that morning in Starbucks. Well, he's in for a surprise -- and the worst part is, Lilith is dangerously addictive. Not only is she erotically exciting but she's also an excellent conversationalist.
There are two solutions for this problem, both recommended by the ancient sages of the Talmud. First, don't speak the name in the first place! Just refer to the Bad Girl and any educated person will know who you're talking about. Second, create a secret code with your wife that only the two of you know -- an arbitrary phrase like "plate of shrimp" from the film Repo Man. If you sense anything unusual in your conjugal affairs, demand the password. If it's not forthcoming, fill a bucket with water and pour it on the demon woman. Lilith has hated water ever since her five hundred years in the ocean.
The images above are just two of Lilith's infintely various disguises. On top, of course, is Veronica from Archie Comics; below is a seemingly innocous dental hygenist. Poets! Choose Betty, not Veronica -- and floss daily!