Forty-five. It is strange how little one changes. The psychologists are all wrong about puberty. Puberty changes nothing. This morning I woke with exactly the same cosmic sexual-religious longing I woke with when I was ten years old. Nothing changes but accidentals: your toes rotate, showing more skin. Every molecule in your body has been replaced but you are exactly the same.
The scientists are wrong: man is not his own juices but a vortex, a traveling suck in his juices.
Ellen pats some Hell-for-Leather on me.
“How do you like it, Chief?”
“Very much,” I say, eyes watering with cloves.
Ellen, though she is a strict churchgoer and a moral girl, does not believe in God. Rather does she believe in the Golden Rule and in doing right. On the whole she is embarrassed by the God business. But she does right. She doesn’t need God. What does God have to do with being honest, hard-working, chaste, upright, unselfish, etcetera. I on the other hand believe in God, the Jews, Christ, the whole business. Yet I don’t do right. I am a Renaissance pope, an immoral believer. Between the two of us we might have saved Christianity. Instead we lost it.
. . .
I recall my uncle’s advice: guard against the sadness of hubris. How to do that? By going to the Little Napoleon and having a drink with Leroy Ledbetter.
. . .
“For the first time the behavioral sciences have a tool for dealing with the heretofore immeasurable and intangible stresses that are rending the national fabric.”
“Dr. More.” Again Art stands up, not to shake hands again I hope, no, but again there is the heavy mollified protein smell.
“We’re prepared to fund an interdisciplinary task force and implement a crash program that will put a MOQUOL in the hands of every physician and social scientist in the U.S. within one year’s time.”
“You are?” Why don’t I feel excited? My eyes don’t blink.
“As you know better than I, your MOQUOL has a multilevel capacity. It is operative at behavioral, political, and philosophical levels. I would even go so far as to say this, Doc—” Art pauses to hawk phlegm and adjust his crotch with an expert complicated pat.