“The Registry of Intangibles,” by P.K. Read

Aug 20th, 2017 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

August 3, 2015 9:23 a.m.

Dear Applicant,

We have taken your application to register yourself as the sole owner and proprieter of a portion of Hungarian history, specifically 1820-1849, under consideration for inclusion in the Registry of Intangibles.

You claim that your “unique affinity, understanding and kinship due to an immigrant great-great-great-grandfather who spread Hungarian culture from Budapest to the Italian shores prior to his emigration to the United States” as justification for your engagement in widespread demands made of educational institutions, media outlets and sitting Hungarian representatives to pay you a usage fee for any mention of this historical period, as well as using the word ‘Hungarian’ to define goulash or rhapsodies.

The Registry acknowledges the appeal of claiming a section of historical experience to an individual or group. The Registry notes that the Applicant illustrated cultural knowledge via the inclusion of several dishes with the application, but recommends for future reference that sending goulash in zip-lock bags is risks leakage, a sodden application form, and a Registry official with stains on a freshly ironed shirt.


Please see also attached notifications of denied applications for:
Ownership of Croation history (1849-1851)
Ownership of Italian history (1851-1852)
Ownership of Cleveland, Ohio history (1853-onwards)


August 3, 2015 9:47 a.m.

Dear Applicant,

The Registry of Intangibles has reviewed your application to list yourself as the ‘Secret Keeper’ in all matters concerning the ‘Reptilian Elite,’ which you state comprises all persons in positions of power, past and present.

It is beyond the mandate of the Registry to appoint an individual to a given position, regardless of the intangibility of the item at hand, if said applicant clearly considers the item to be tangible.

The napkins, paper towels, receipts and envelopes upon which the application was submitted, however, proved mildly effective in the tidying of spills precipitated by previous application packages, and for that, the Registry offers its appreciation.


Please see also attached notifications of denied ‘Secret Keeper’ applications for:
Paul Is Dead
Moon Landing
Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory


August 3, 2015 11:09 a.m.

Dear Applicant,

The Registry of Intangibles has reviewed your application to have Mongolian knuckle-bone shooting reclassified as the ‘certified historical local pastime’ of West Thumb, Wyoming.

We note the lack of any direct Mongolian affiliation between West Thumb, WY and Mongolia itself, nor between yourself and any direct Mongolian descendant and acknowledge your claim of being ‘as wild as Genghis Khan’ as stated grounds for instituting the annual West Thumb Knuckle-Bone Shooting Mongolian Rodeo.

You assert that Mongolian knuckle-bone shooting, a ritualized team game that encourages interaction across Mongolian groups, involves using specialized firearms to shoot small bones of ovine origin from atop a moving horse at targets bearing the likenesses of various political figures.

Your application failed to include reference to the embossed costumes or any knowledge of the traditional knuckle-bone shooting songs. It is this base form of misappropriation and its avoidance that renders Registry work so simultaneously frustrating and yet satisfying.


Note: The Registry notes that it can not provide any form of restraining order against the “Mongolian elders” the applicant claims are “threatening to play knucklebones with his thumb metacarpals” in retribution for online advertising that depicts Mongolian nomads engaged in the above-mentioned West Thumb Rodeo. Similar threats made by the Applicant to the Registry officer charged with the application assessment only incline this officer to provide tangible evidence of the Applicant’s address to aforesaid Mongolian elders.

Please desist.


August 3, 2015 2:37 p.m.

Dear Registrant,

On October 30, 1992 your application to the Registry for ownership of so-called Dark Matter was provisionally approved due to its intangibility.

In the interim, the Registry notes that you have been selling sealed receptacles labelled “Dark Matter, open at own risk,” through various commercial distribution outlets at prices between US$ 7-12 per can.

While the Registry marvels at your entrepreneurial undertaking, as well as human gullibility, we herewith inform you that the Registry has reconsidered its approval based on the changing understanding of Dark Matter. Together with recent revelations regarding Dark Energy, these hypothetical elements have been outlined and can no longer be considered ‘intangible.’

With the advent of aforesaid tangibility, it is with regret that we must inform you that the approval of ownership by this Registry is rendered null and void.

On a personal note, this Registry officer offers thanks for the can of Dark Matter which perched on an office shelf for the past several years and which remained sealed as per instructions that once opened, the Dark Matter contained within would become ‘light’ and escape. This gift represented one of the few tangibly kind acts of gratitude experienced in this office. Registry guidelines regarding the retraction of Intangibility status dictated that the can be confiscated and destroyed. The confiscation was carried out with concurrent mockery of certain goulash stains as well as the presence of dried goulash at the neck and ear of a Registry officer. Such is the harshness of the tangible world.


August 3, 2015 4:37 p.m.

Dear Non-Registrant,

We herewith issue our third and final cease-and-desist order and request that you no longer lay claim to and attempt to levy fees upon the “Joy felt upon catching the first snowflake of winter on one’s tongue,” as well as the “Bliss arising from the first breeze of spring after winter,” and the “Intoxicating fear of change.”

The Registry has neither tolerance nor appreciation for attempts to exploit intangible emotions for profit, and suggests the Non-Registrant explore these interests through more legitimized avenues of exploitation, such as advertising, entertainment or politics.

We will not countenance another image of money being demanded from children in the snow, couples on park benches, or Rick Santorum.

It’s been a long day, shirts have been ruined, loyal Registry officers threatened and mocked, valuable items destroyed, and no lunch except for dried goulash on a necktie and a couple of sodden kifli.

Signed in Tangibility,
Registry Officer 431


P.K. Read’s work has appeared in Necessary Fiction, Bartleby Snopes, Jersey Devil Press, The Feminist Wire, and elsewhere. She writes on www.champagnewhisky.com from a remote corner of France, where she is trying to get to the end of all the cheese.

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