Friday, April 25, 2008

Metaphysics and the Macchiato

If it weren’t for that double-shot caramel macchiato with extra whip I wouldn’t be in this mess.

Okay, let me start at the beginning. I was already late to the Philosophy Club meeting when I decided to stop off for a caramel macchiato. Heavy doses of sugar and caffeine were essential as I would be participating in lively discourse on Existentialism, Rationalism and “Which Came First – The Chicken Or The Egg?” It was going to be a long night.

Coffee and scone in hand, I jumped in the car and raced to the community center. I enjoy these weekly discussions with other armchair philosophers. We understand each other. No one even raised an eyebrow when I confessed that I own a full-color poster of Aristotle in a “beefcake” pose.

Reuben is the facilitator. Pompous, arrogant and anal retentive, he can be quite intimidating. You can’t really blame him. Despite a Ph.D. in philosophy and a Master’s degree in anthropology, the only job he could get in our small town was at Sears. Fortunately for Reuben, he works in “home electronics” where he can watch PBS to his heart’s content.

I was late to the meeting and tried to be inconspicuous as I took my seat in the semi-circle of folding chairs. Reuben despises tardiness, among other things. He glared at me and continued his opening remarks. I carefully placed my drink on the floor so I could take notes. And then it happened.

As Reuben expounded on Kant and the metaphysics of morals, I accidentally knocked over the macchiato with my foot. The pool of liquid oozed toward Reuben’s brown leather wing-tips. By the time he looked down, it was too late. He took a step forward and slipped, falling flat on his back.

No one moved. Time stood still. Reuben struggled to his feet, but slipped again, sloshing around like a harp seal among the coffee and whipped cream. He finally managed to stand up and, in a sinister voice, told everyone to go home. We were alone. The silence was deafening and the smell of caramel filled the room. I glanced at the door, wondering if I should make a run for it. He seemed to read my mind and walked to the door, locking it. I panicked. I had no idea what Reuben was capable of. Certainly not ending a sentence with a preposition.

My mind raced. Reuben was a philosopher. A man of reason and intellect. Surely he wouldn’t do anything rash simply because of embarrassment and ridicule. I was wrong.

And that’s how I ended up locked in a closet with a flashlight and Reuben’s dog-eared copy of “Philosophy for Dummies.”

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