Well, my gentle readers, it’s that time of year again. When the air is filled with tinkling bells / And the trees are white with crusty shells / And the frost is on the windowpane / It’s December time again! It’s time for evergreen wreaths and holly boughs, sleigh bells and silver bells, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, eggnog and spiced cider. Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!
The Good Reader: Well done, Blogger! You managed to populate that introduction almost entirely with song lyrics.
The Blogger: It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Isn’t it?
The Good Reader: Mmm-hmmm. I think so.
The Blogger: And may i just say, it’s good of you to show up to the party.
The Good Reader: The party? What party?
The Blogger: My little Christmas party. I’ve invited a few friends over to celebrate the joy of the season and share eggnog and fruitcake.
The Good Reader: Real friends, or characters from your blog?
The Blogger: Oh, c’mon, Good Reader, is that a distinction we really have to make right now? It being Christmas and all?
The Good Reader: Hey, don’t mind me. You’re the one who’s all into making fine metaphysical distinctions and talking about everybody’s ontological status.
The Blogger: Gracious heavens, Good Reader, i didn’t realize you even KNEW those words! You may blossom into a real philosopher yet.
The Good Reader: Grrrrr.
The Blogger: Speaking of which: will you look at that, here come some of my other guests! Jen, Biff, come on in, it’s great to see you!
Little Biffy: It’s terribly good to see you as well, Mr. Blogger!
Jennifer Smith: Um. What. Where are we. What in the world. I’m so confused.
Little Biffy: Jennifer, may i introduce you to The Blogger? He’s a philosopher friend of mine. I suppose you could say, in one sense, that he has taught me everything i know.
Jennifer Smith: Uh… well, it’s nice to meet you, Blogger. Do you have a real name, or are we all going by job descriptions here? In which case, i’m “Meaningless Desk Job at a Faceless, Soulless Behemoth of an Insurance Company.”
The Blogger: Oh, Jennifer, i know all about you. That was clever, by the way. Come in, come in! Have some eggnog.
Jennifer Smith: How do you know all about me? Biff, how does this man know me?
Little Biffy: It’s kind of complicated. Ooohh, look, fruitcake! C’mon, Jen, there’s snacks.
The Blogger: Make yourselves at home. Mi casa es su casa. Literally, sort of, heh heh.
Jennifer Smith: He keeps saying mysterious and creepy things. Who is this guy, Biffy?
Little Biffy: I’ll explain everything to you in a sec. Let’s go look at the appetizer table. Ooohh, yum, cheezy sausage balls! [Biffy and Jennifer go to the other side of the room]
The Good Reader: Blogger, seriously, is this young lady not aware that she’s a character in your blog?
The Blogger: Ssshhhh. Keep your voice down. Sometimes the weaker ones will panic.
The Good Reader: Pfft! It sure took me a long time to get used to it.
The Blogger: Okay, here’s the scoop on Jen and Biff. He, being more philosophically inclined, grasped early on that his conscious experience of reality might be only one level or mode of participation in the larger matrix in which he is embedded as an existent entity.
The Good Reader: Mmm. Exactly how i would have put it.
The Blogger: Biffy casts a critical eye on his world, takes nothing for granted, and he asks all the right questions. Jennifer, on the other hand — although she’s pretty bright — tends to take things at face value.
The Good Reader: So Little Biffy knows that you’re his creator?
The Blogger: Sure does.
The Good Reader: And he’s okay with that?
The Blogger: What sort of objection is he supposed to raise? “I don’t like the fact that i am a figment of your creative imagination. Make it stop! Waa-a-a-a-a-a-anh.”
The Good Reader: Well, if you put it that way.
The Blogger: He’s got a good attitude about it. We’re all somebody’s creation, after all. No sense getting all bent out of shape about it.
The Good Reader: Hark! Looks like somebody else is at the door.
The Blogger: Well, that would be Mister Wu! Elvis! Come in, dude! It’s so good of you to stop by.
Elvis Wu: A strong argument could be made that i had no choice in the matter. [smiles] But the pleasure is, at any rate, entirely mine.
The Blogger: Fellas, i’d like to introduce you all to Elvis Wu, the Last Philosophy Major.
Jennifer Smith: The very last philosophy major? Ever?
Elvis Wu: [bows gallantly] At your service.
Little Biffy: I’m happy to actually be able to meet you at long last, having heard so many rumors of your existence.
Elvis Wu: Or perhaps, my ‘modal’ existence.
[They both laugh, The Good Reader rolls her eyes, and Jennifer looks grumpy]
The Good Reader: Well, Mister Wu… or should i call you ‘Doctor Wu’?
Elvis Wu: Good one. I’m a Steely Dan fan, myself.
Little Biffy: [Singing from near the appetizer table] “Are you with me, Doctor Wu? / Are you really just a shadow of the man that we once knew?”
The Good Reader: Ever since the Blogger first introduced you on this blog as “The Last Philosophy Major,” i’ve been curious about the same thing that Jennifer just asked. “The Last Philosophy Major.” What does that even mean? Surely you don’t mean that there are no more colleges or universities with philosophy departments. There must be.
Elvis Wu: The answer to your question is actually kind of complicated.
The Good Reader: Oh my gosh, you’re as bad as this guy! [She indicates the Blogger.] I can’t get a straight answer out of him either! No wonder you guys hang out.
Elvis Wu: There are still academic departments at many institutions of higher learning that continue to label themselves ‘philosophy’ departments, if that serves as a partial answer to your question.
The Good Reader: It’ll probably have to do for now.
Little Biffy: [Still singing] “Are you crazy, are you high, or just an ordinary guy?”
[Jennifer slips away from Little Biffy, and approaches The Blogger.]
Jennifer Smith: Blogger, can i talk with you for a minute?
The Blogger: Sure thing, Jen. What’s on your mind? As if i don’t already know. Heh heh.
Jennifer Smith: That’s not funny! See, that’s what i wanted to talk to you about. I find it unsettling at best that you and Biffy seem to think that i’m your creation. But no. Come on. I’m an actual person, Blogger. I have my own thoughts and experiences. This “I created her” stuff has got to go.
The Blogger: It doesn’t seem to bother Little Biffy.
Jennifer Smith: Biffy’s a freak of nature. I have no idea who or what created him. I think he may have sprung fully-formed out of a Black Hole in outer space. But i know who i am.
The Blogger: If that’s true, then you’re a rare one indeed. Hardly anybody knows who they really are.
Jennifer Smith: You’re going all philosophical on me, and i’m just trying to make a simple point. Stop telling Biffy that you created us! It’s sick and twisted, and he’s just a kid. You’re messing with the head of a little kid.
The Blogger: He’s a boy genius. I don’t think he’s in any danger of being bamboozled by a story that is completely without credibility. And, as it happens, this story is a true one.
Jennifer Smith: Okay… okay… then, how about this. You and i are standing together in the same living room right now, in what i assume is your house. Right? Here we are, you and me. I’m just as real, and as present, as you are. Or vice-versa.
The Blogger: That’s because we’re both creations of the REAL Blogger.
Jennifer Smith: Oh my word.
The Blogger: Yup. You might want to think of me as an avatar of the guy writing the blog. I mean, i’m him, but i’m not really him, you see. I’m the version of him that he sticks into the dialogue to represent him.
Jennifer Smith: I’m just going to sit down over here for a minute.
Little Biffy: [From the appetizer table] How’s it going over there? These cheezy sausage things are terrific!
The Good Reader: I just tried some of the fruitcake, and it’s actually not bad! Everybody likes to make awful jokes about fruitcake.
The Blogger: Mine is homemade, from a family recipe. You’re thinking of those rubbery inedible brick-shaped things wrapped in cellophane that they sell at truck-stop convenience marts.
Jennifer Smith: Yeah, what are those made of, anyway? It looks kind of like, hardened jell-o with sediment and petrified fruits embedded in it.
Elvis Wu: I’ve never spoken with anyone who has actually eaten one of those. I think they may be poisonous.
Little Biffy: Or even caustic! They’re wrapped in cellophane because they cause burns if brought into contact with the skin!
Elvis Wu: “Turn and run! Nothing can stop them, / Around every river and canal their power is growing…”
Little Biffy: “The Return of the Giant Hogweed”! The Last Philosophy Major knows his early Genesis! I salute you, sir.
Elvis Wu: Except, in this case, it would be “The Return of the Giant Fruitcake.”
Jennifer Smith: I have no idea what they’re talking about. What a frustrating Christmas party.
Little Biffy: The Giant Hogweed is a terrible invasive plant species that looks pretty but can burn, scar, or even blind you if your skin comes in contact with it. And the British rock group Genesis recorded a song about it in the early 1970s.
Jennifer Smith: Back when you were just a wee tot.
Little Biffy: [Turning red] I wasn’t born yet. But i listen to my parents’ records.
The Good Reader: Yikes! Is this appropriate Christmas conversation? People’s skin being burned off by hogweeds and fruitcakes? I’m with Jen. This party needs a jump-start.
The Blogger: Okay, we’ve covered fruitcake. What’s eggnog?
Little Biffy: [Sings] “Christmas is a-coming, and the egg is in the nog…”
The Good Reader: I know this one! It goes back to the Middle Ages. Authentic eggnog is made from milk, cream, sugar, spices, eggs, and whiskey or rum.
Jennifer Smith: Well, why don’t they call it an ‘egg shake’ or an ‘egg smoothie’? What does ‘nog’ even mean?
The Good Reader: I think it was an archaic word for whiskey. Eggnog: Egg whiskey.
Little Biffy: Yum. Egg whiskey.
The Good Reader: My Grammy made it from scratch every Christmas. Mighty strong stuff. [Hesitates.] She was a bit of a lush, my Grammy.
The Blogger: Fantastic! And what about the Yule log? Where did that come from?
Elvis Wu: That one’s easy. You know the problem some people have, confusing the words “your” and “you’re”?
The Good Reader: Mm-hmm.
Elvis Wu: Well, people used to have a similar problem related to their Christmas fireplace logs. The “You’ll” log was traditionally the one that a family saved for when they had holiday guests over — as in, “you’ll be at home here with us,” or something like that — but the tradition apparently fell into the hands of illiterate people and thus we have the Yule log.
Jennifer Smith: Ugh. You’re not the Last Philosophy Major. You’re the Appallingly Terrible Puns Major.
Elvis Wu: I enter a plea of ‘guilty’.
Little Biffy: Given that we’re in the South, maybe we should start calling it the “Y’all” log?
[Groans all around, except for Elvis, who looks at Biffy with renewed admiration.]
The Blogger: Well, i think it’s time for a holiday toast. Elvis, would you mind doing the honors?
Elvis Wu: I would be honored. [He pours himself a fresh cup of hot spiced cider.]
Jennifer Smith: I have no idea what to expect. I mean. This guy.
Little Biffy: Expect the unexpected.
Jennifer Smith: But if you’re expecting ‘the unexpected,’ then what you’re actually expecting is… wait, he’s about to offer the toast.
Elvis Wu: [Lifts his glass] May your days be merry and delicious, and may all your Christmases be treadknicious!
The Assembled Throng: Wassail!