Q. Do you even have the slightest idea who I am?
A. I know exactly who you are.
Q. Then where were you last night when I needed you?
A. Too wiped out.
Q. You weren’t avoiding me, were you?
A. No – not really. I just didn’t have much to say to you.
Q. Do you realize how small that makes me feel?
A. Vaguely. But perhaps you’ve been a bit too big for your britches lately.
Q. What makes you say so? Why would you even think such a horrid thought?
A. Well, it’s one thing for me to have finally summoned you as a last resort, when I was in a bind. But you outlived your usefulness when you started becoming all codependent on me.
A. You heard me! My personal habits and manner of self-care are my own business. All you codependents are alike. Constantly harping on me to take care of myself, as though you practically owned my body. I’m the one who lives in the damn thing! I’m the one who knows what it takes to function properly. I’m the one who hasn’t had a serious disease in sixty-four years of living, while all around me all these sick people keep harping on how I “don’t take care of myself.”
Q. Are you calling me “sick?”
A. Aw, you’re healthy enough in low doses, I suppose.
Q. Don’t you think you’re beginning to come across like Job in Chapter 33? Exalting your own righteousness above that of the Holy Name of God??
A. Oh please. The transparency with which you resort to throwing the Book at me is odious.
Q. How so?
A. You always pound the Scriptures at me in order to bring guilt upon my head, just at the moment when you figure nothing else would work but a religious guilt trip.
Q. But can’t you see that I am only trying to help?
A. That’s what they all say.
Q. But what do you say?
A. I say that yes, I thank the Good Lord God for keeping me in decent health long enough to finally get a good crack at my life’s work on this planet. But at the same time, I can’t deny that following some simple rules such as (1) not smoking cigarettes, and (2) getting sufficient, moderate physical exercise, have had at least something to do with it. God didn’t waste his gift of good health on a guy who was going to sit on a bar stool all night long whining with a Camel non-filter hanging out of his mouth as though it were a blue tooth in his ear.
Q. How can you claim to have always made healthy choices? Is not the very notion preposterous?
A. I never said I have always made healthy choices. I am only saying I make a point of taking care of myself, whether anybody else thinks so or not, and when I fail or lapse, God has been merciful in letting me wake up in the morning without hangover. Or similar such show of mercy.
Q. Why is that you seem so damned smug today?
A. Because you and I are splittin’ up, baby! I got to the point yesterday where I just did not need you or your flagrant codependent guilt trips, you flailing flimsy excuse for a superego, you! I made a speech last night. I’m going to edit it tonight to taste. And I worked for three hours on my piano-vocal score, according to my schedule that I’m determined to keep up till the end of October. I even enjoyed the work. And I ran two miles! And did fourteen push-ups! When was the last time you ran two miles? Not to mention, before you completely fade and fizzle into the oblivion where you and all your moralistic guilt trips belong, heed the wise words of Bertrand Russell, my agnostic hero.
A. My agnostic hero chain-smoked till he was 80, became unhealthy, stopped smoking, and lived to be 97. Are you going to live to be 97?
Q. Are you?
A. We shall see!
The Questioner has been silenced — for the time being . . .
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