Next I turned my attention to the second conjecture, that I was now, or had once been, a child. The first possibility, that I was now a child, was easy to dispose of. My reasoning was that though it is possible for a precocious child to translate French into eloquent English, I had to admit that I was not a member of that class. Well above average, certainly, but not a child prodigy. The latter possibility, that I had once been a child, could not be dismissed so readily: I might be an amnesiac. After some meditation on this possibility, I set the issue in a far corner of my mind, where it might later serve as a working hypothesis.
This left me with the third conjecture, that I was, or had once been, a senior citizen.
If I had once been a senior citizen, I reasoned, then something must have happened to me in the intervening period. That “something” must have involved a change. And that change was either (1) a transmigration, (2) a metamorphosis, or (3) a death.
As for the first two possibilities, I had already concluded that they did not apply, at least in my case; because being a Christian, though admittedly of the backslidden variety, I believed in neither transmigration nor metamorphosis.
As for the possibility that the change had been (3) death, I discarded it on the grounds that I was still alive, evidenced by the fact that I had recently reached over and shut off my alarm device. What is more, in the Christian view of things, I must thus be in either (a) heaven or (b) hell or, in the Catholic repertoire of endings, (c) purgatory.
Considering the fact that my surroundings were generally of an inferior quality, I concluded that I was not in heaven. Considering the fact that my feet were presumably cold, I was not in hell. And considering the fact that my walls were not adorned with an icon of the Virgin Mother, I was not in purgatory.
Having refuted the supposition that I had once been a senior citizen, I turned my attention to the remaining possibility, namely, that I was now a senior citizen.
I ran my fingers over my face and discovered wrinkles. Exploring further, I found those wrinkles to be deep. “Aha,” I informed myself, “I’m old!” I ran my fingers over other parts of my body and found that I had no breasts. A hypothesis formed in my mind. My fingers kept exploring. Soon my hypothesis was confirmed: I was a man. I conflated my two discoveries and concluded that I was an old man. Then, after a long interval of exploration, I found that, though I was an old man, my male parts were in satisfactory if not superior working order.
This latter discovery gave me the courage to sit up and place my legs over the edge of the bed. I noted a cane leaning against the near wall and took this as a sign that my powers of locomotion were on the wane. I speculated that this was a result of an old football injury. I reached out, grasped the cane, inspected it, and found it to be polished and sturdy. It was also of a high quality, as evidenced by its gilt handle, which resembled the head of a duck.
I eased myself off the bed and slowly stood up to determine which of my limbs required this aid. Strangely, I felt no pain. In fact, a quick examination showed that my powers of mobility were approximately adequate. Why, then, the cane?
After giving this matter additional thought, I came to recall the Aristotelian principle that there is a reason for everything. Therefore, there was a reason for the cane. A cane, I continued, is designed to aid a person in the act of walking. This aid is required if and only if there is an impediment. That impediment must be a bad hip. Old football injuries that affect one’s powers of locomotion commonly involve a hip. Therefore, I concluded, the purpose of my cane was to aid me in moving about despite my ailing hip.