} - All right, folks, stand back: give this poor devil some room........
} - OK, Ma'am, what happened?
} - Well, Mr......
} - Oracle.
} - Mr. Oracle, my husband Ralph, he's a philosophy teacher over at
} Columbia? He'd been grading papers a few weeks ago, and was feeling
} kind of blah afterward, like he didn't see any meaning in anything? I
} told him he should talk to Professor Wysznowszki about it - he and
} Ralph are old friends, they went to Rutgers together - and this morning
} Ralph and I were going over to his office - the Professor's, I mean -
} and the Dean was there on the campus with a bunch of big donors, and
} Ralph tried to ask him about getting funding for his seminar on
} Neo-Platonism - that's one of Ralph's pet projects, and the Dean? Well,
} he's about the most awful snob, and he reads Ayn Rand and all that
} horrid stuff, he turned and told Ralph in the most arrogant tone, "As
} far as *I'm* concerned, you don't even *exist*!" And all these old
} alumni - business majors and whatnot - they just laughed out loud at
} poor Ralph! Well, Ralph didn't even dignify that nasty Dean with an
} answer, he just turned on his heel and walked away! So we'd got back to
} the street, when Ralph looked at me kind of funny, and said, "Myra," -
} that's my name - "Myra, I don't think -", and then he went all blank
} suddenly and he sort of collapsed and - (*sob*) - and -
} - There, there, Myra, keep your chin up: I'm sure we can get Ralph back
} on his feet. After all, I'm the Oracle, aren't I? Now, when was his
} last metaphysical? About a year ago, I see..... No signs of existential
} problems then. OK, let me examine him:
} Hmm: minimal muscle tone; body temperature barely perceptible; pulse
} weak but steady; still fairly solid, but he's fading in and out a bit.
} We'll have to hurry. Myra, have you got a mirror in your purse?
} - I - I - Yes! In - in my compact! H - Here it is -
} - Hold it in front of his eyes: that's it, right there! Now, let's look
} at his wallet ..... Few twenties (hm, not much)..... SuperSavers'
} card.......... (nice snapshot of...? Oops, never mind)......... Ah!
} Driver's license, that's good.......... and - Here we are: university
} parking stub - validated! Now.................. Ralph? RALPH! Can you
} hear me? I want you to focus on the mirror - that's it, open your
} eyes........... Can you see it? Can you see the face in it? Good!
} that's you - YOU. Now look at the license - see the picture? See how
} they're the same? That's right......... Now, see where it says,
} SWEETBURGER, RALPH D.? Yes, that's your NAME. I know it doesn't say
} Ph.D at the end, but that's not important right now........
} OK, now, Ralph? You see this ticket? Yes, you have a car, and you
} parked it.......... Now, look at the stamp, there: you see, its
} validated. Yes - VALIDATED. You've got EXTERNAL PROOF, Ralph: you
} EXIST. Doesn't matter what the Dean said - YOU EXIST.
} There, now, he's beginning to get some color back......... Take it
} easy, Ralph: sit up slowly........... Could one of you help me get him
} on his feet? There! Now, you get home and get yourself a good rest for
} a while. (Myra, you'd better drive)..........
} You'd better keep him away from any heavy reading for a while, Ma'am.
} No textbooks or professional journals...... try giving him the op-eds
} in the Times - or better yet, the Post: it'll stimulate some healthy
} outrage, keep his sense of self going. Now, if he starts talking shop -
} like postulating whether he's just a figment of someone else's
} imagination or not - you give him a good slap in the chops, OK? That'll
} take his mind off it......
} - Mr. Oracle? Thank you! I didn't know what I was going to do........
} perhaps I could -
} - No, really, Mrs. Sweetburger, I couldn't: it's just the least I can
} do for a fellow entity. God bless you.
} However......... when he's back to his old self......... I suppose
} Ralph *could* work something out for me............ maybe a definitive
} proof of the non-existence of Justin Bieber, say? It's no big
} deal...... Bye!