The Question

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December 12, 2014 by T. Gregory Argall

I entered the chamber and paused for a moment, allowing my eyes to adjust to flickering candlelight. It didn’t take long; there were a lot of candles. I had to be careful where I stepped so as not to accidentally kick one over. The high stone walls should have been cold but they seemed to exude a warmth that was both welcoming and comforting.

I saw the man known as The Fount Of Wisdom at the far end of the room, about twenty feet from me. (I suspect that he gave himself that title, but it’s the sort of reverent nickname that if you can get a couple of people to call you that, it’ll catch on.)
He was sitting cross-legged on the floor, three dozen candles laid out in a circle around him. He was adorned with green-and-orange-striped socks, fuzzy bunny slippers, a worn pair of khakis, and a t-shirt that said “My Karma Ran Over My Dogma.” He looked a little bit like jeff Bridges in “The Big Lebowski” and a little bit like Emma Thomson in “Stranger Than Fiction.” It was a unique look but he managed to pull it off.

Looking up from his interlaced hands, he smiled and me and spoke with the voice of Antonio Fargas. “Hello. Come in. We’ve been waiting for you.”

I raised a questioning eyebrow and said, “We?”

He laughed and replied, “Me and the candles, brother. Me and the candles.”

I’m pretty sure he was high.

I walked over to him and he gestured for me to sit. I sat. It seemed the polite thing to do. The floor was surprisingly comfortable.
He asked how far I had traveled. I told him where I called home. He nodded and said, “You have come a long way, indeed. Your question must be important to you.”

“It is,” I replied, although I hadn’t realized until that moment just how much the question meant to me, how much my quest, my journey to this place had consumed my existence.

He nodded in understanding and said, “Go ahead. Ask your question. I shall answer with as much wisdom as I can.”

I paused, looked around the intensely candlelit chamber, took a deep breath, and asked the question that had been gnawing at my mind for longer than I was willing to admit.

“Why,” I hesitantly queried, “has ‘Hey’ become an acceptable greeting in formal business correspondence?”

The Fount Of Wisdom closed his eyes as he considered my question. He slowly rocked back and forth as he pondered the deeper meaning. I would have thought he had had fallen asleep if not for the fact that he was quietly humming the intro to the 1967 Vanilla Fudge recording of “You Keep Me Hanging On.” Finally he fell into silence again. After several more moments he nodded to himself, apparently satisfied that he had found the one true answer to my question.

Opening his eyes, he looked mournfully at me and said, “I don’t know, man. Some people are just dicks, I guess.”

I thanked him for sharing his wisdom, stood, and walked carefully back towards the door, being sure not to knock over any candles. Exiting the chamber, I emerged back into the household appliance department at Sears and began my long journey home again.

Deep down, in some indefinable way, I knew my life had changed forever. I also knew that it didn’t really matter.

Try to be nice to each other.



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