from June 15, 2004
At the end of our semi-monthly Round Table discussion, Ms. Talia la Musa asked me up to her room for a tête-â-tête that, she assured me, was of serious though Platonic intent.
I accepted her gracious invitation but not her offers of a cigarette and what she described as “a cold one.”
Once seated in a comfortable position, she leaned forward and asked my estimate of when the next “really humongous” meteor would collide with the earth. I thought for a few nanoseconds and proffered my considered opinion.
“In your considered opinion,” she continued, “would you consider that period of time short-term, medium-term, or long-term?”
“Considering the age of the universe?” I asked.
“Yeah,” she answered.
Again I went into a nanosecond muse. “Medium-term, I replied. Definitely medium-term.”
Her next question was similar to the initial one, though the subject concerned the next dangerous comet.
“Period of time?” she asked.
“Medium-term, though tending toward the long-term.”
“Aha,” she said, lighting what she referred to as her “sucker.”
She then appeared to change the subject of conversation. She sought to know if Mars could sustain metaphysical life, in the medium-to-long term.
“Much depends,” I answered, “on 347 variables—348, taking into consideration the nature of the metaphysical entity.”
Ms. la Musa surprised me by not asking me to list them. Instead, she merely asked, “What about now?”
I paused, then asked her an intimate question. “Do you have any specific metaphysical entity in mind?”
She glanced around the room, as if to determine if there were any listeners. “Jesus,” she finally whispered.
“Isn’t Jesus considered a metaphysical entity?” she asked aloud, her voice signaling a mix of incredulity and pique.
I thought back to my Irish Jesuit training.
“So I have been told,” I answered truthfully.
“That means there’s a good chance He’s up there now,” she said, her voice signaling wonderment.
“Perhaps,” I smiled.
Ms. la Musa seemed satisfied with this answer. And so, after finishing her proffered cup of herbal tea, I left for my laboratory, trying to imagine the import of that conversation.