Tolkien was a great writer, perhaps the greatest of the 20th Century.
“Tokien was so unrealistic. None of his characters ever clip their toenails, get stuck in traffic, or masturbate furtively.”
What a glorious early autumn day. The sun is in his finest aspect today, don’t you think?
“The sun is a mass of incandescent gas, a gigantic nuclear furnace, where hydrogen is turned into helium at a temperature of millions of degrees.”
Yes, but without the sun, without a doubt, there’d be no you or me.
“I guess. It’s awfully bright today, and it’s giving me a headache.”
Hence your giant bug-eye-lens style sunglasses?
“Yes, hence these.”
I see. And the coffee?
“Yes, but this coffee lacks acidity and aromatic complexity. Really, when I get a high-grown Guatemala, I expect some citrus component at the bare minimum. Don’t you?”
I suppose I do. [Pause.] A nice dinner we had last night.
“Ugh. That woman is cold and domineering. She uses those meals to pretend to be kind while launching into everyone at the table for their tiniest flaws. And do you notice how she always stays just on this side of friendly banter, so one can never really confront her?”
To be honest, yes, I do notice that. Still, she cooked us all dinner, and it was pretty delicious.
“Ugh. You are such a milquetoast. Must you always look at the bright side? Can’t a man lodge an honest complaint? And an accurate complaint, I might add!”
Well, you ate it. Cleaned your plate, I noticed.
“What was I supposed to do? It would have been terribly rude of me to refuse to eat the food she prepared just because she is a petty woman and she has those frown-lines on her forehead (the ones those self-interested yoga moms always have… you can see right through their fake-Zen NPR facades).”
And if a war criminal, or say, an admitted rapist, had invited you to dinner?
“What kind of question is that? I should refuse, of course!”
What about a shoplifter then?
“Yes yes. Very clever. Lessen the offense until you get me to admit that yes, I would sit down to dinner with such-and-such a sinner. That’s your ploy, isn’t it?”
I admit something like that had crossed my mind.
“Well she’s still a hateful woman. I stand by my assessment!”
God has provided us this day.
“Nonsense. Your God is a figment. Anyone who uses his brain can see that.”
Hmm, I don’t think that’s true. But forget God, then. Everything we have is a gift. We’ve done nothing to deserve any of it.
“Nonsense again! I work hard, save and invest. I don’t take handouts from the government or anyone else.”
I am speaking on a more fundamental level. Your brain, for example, and your two hands. Your wonderful talent for public speaking …
“Well that last was honed through practice!”
… But the time you used to practice. The very existence of the day. Life itself. All of it was unearned, undeserved.
“And unasked for.”
So you would ask it all away if you could?
“I don’t know. Commit suicide, you mean? I don’t think so. If you are trying to get me to say it’s good to be alive, I guess I can concede that some aspects of being alive are good.”
But other aspects are intolerable, and since you didn’t ask for them, it’s rather unfair to expect you — or me — to just sit there and take it.
“Yes, now you understand.”
So life is like a delicious meal, cooked up by an person who sometimes grates on your nerves. And the meal isn’t always perfect either. But still it’s better to sit down and eat rather than starve to death out of principal? Somehow you always end up at the table, despite your constant complaints. You don’t want to turn down the potatoes any more than I do.
“Ha ha, very nicely turned. Now you are being the biting, sarcastic one.”
I’m sorry, I couldn’t help it. It’s one of life’s little pleasures.