Confucius, the Buddha, Aristotle, and Mr. T Return to Chili’s
by David Kennedy Bird
Abstract: In which our four redoubtable philosophers–one of whom is none other than Mr. T (!) (oh my)–continue their sometimes witty… sometimes, um, er, not-witty… and sometimes inexplicable… and sometimes… anyway… conversation about the Higher and Deeper Things at Chili’s Restaurant.
Waiter: Have we, like, at long last, decided what we want to order?
Confucius: I believe we have, yes. I’ll have the Southwestern Eggrolls. [he leans in confidentially, whispering] It’s hard to beat those Southwestern Eggrolls.
Waiter: They sure do tend to be a favorite with our customers. And you, sir?
Mr. T: Yeah, well when i was growing up, my family was so poor we couldn’t afford to pay attention.
Waiter: Hey! This guy’s kinda witty, sort of.
Confucius: Might want to be careful about encouraging him.
Waiter: Aww, i think he’s harmless.
Mr. T: [screws his face up into a horribly threatening scowl] My prediction: Pain.
Confucius: Tell you what, he’ll have the Caesar Salad and a Coke.
Waiter: [visibly nervous, turning quickly toward Aristotle] A…and you, sir?
Aristotle: I’ll have the braised goat with milk curds and olives.
Confucius: Hoo boy! Um, waiter, this gentleman will have the Carnitas Fajitas.
Aristotle: Are you sure?
Confucius: You’ll love it.
Waiter: Um… okay… and you, sir?
The Buddha: I’ll have what they’re having.
Waiter: All of it?
The Buddha: The man of understanding takes in the entirety of his world, and in the end finds it to be: emptiness.
Confucius: I am so sorry. We’re rather a group of oddballs, aren’t we. He’ll have the cheese quesadillas.
[waiter scurries off, trembling just a little bit]
Aristotle: So, shall we resume our discussion of the Higher Things?
Mr. T: I believe in the Golden Rule. The man with the gold, rules.
Aristotle: [taking a deep breath] That’s a commonly held belief. So, do you think it’s best that those with the wealth should also be the ones with the power?
Confucius: [stage whisper] Are you really wanting to encourage him?
Aristotle: [stage whisper] I’m directing his random outbursts into patterned discussion.
Confucius: [stage whisper] I don’t feel like that’s going to yield much fruit.
Aristotle: [stage whisper] I dunno. We’ll see. Worth a try.
Confucius: [stage whisper] Okay, man. Go for it. You do you.
Mr. T: I, uh, pity the fool.
Confucius: [to Aristotle] Here’s the problem, i think. If you ask our redoubtable Mr. T a question for which he doesn’t have one of his pre-prepared answers, you put him off his game and he doesn’t know what to say.
Aristotle: Is that so! [gets a devilish look in his eye, like that of someone who has just learned that you’re carrying gold nuggets in your pocket and is trying to figure out how to lift them without your noticing]
Aristotle: [returning his attention to Mr. T] So, which fool, exactly, is it that you pity?
Mr. T: Um… uh… all of ’em?
Aristotle: Ah! But you cannot pity all of them. For one fool may be at odds with another, and you must choose sides. Which fool are you betting on?
Mr. T: I… I… [he begins to tremble]
The Buddha: Pain.
Aristotle: Not now, Bud. I’m on a roll with this other guy.
Confucius: How many kinds of fools are there?
Aristotle: Dude! Don’t ruin my setup. I think i’ve got him against the ropes.
Mr. T: Um… uh… uh….
Aristotle: Imagine a poker table, and four fools sitting around it playing poker. One of those fools will have to win the game. How can a fool win the game?
Mr. T: [recovering, seeing his opportunity] There’s two kinds of people: the winners, and the losers. Which one are you?
Confucius: Oohh, and it seemed as if you were doing so well, for a while there.
The Buddha: Pain. Huh huh huh.
Aristotle: Oh my word, is the little Buddha fellow turning into Mr. T now? I have to deal with a whole table of Mr. T’s?
Mr. T: Are the Mr. T’s at the table, or is the table full of Mr. T’s?
Confucius: Dude, that was sort of a tautology.
Aristotle: [losing patience] Okay. Fine! You win, i lose! I still fail to understand what this man is doing at our table!
Confucius: [leaning in toward Aristotle in a confidential manner] Okay, i suppose i need to come clean with you. I told his mom i’d take him for the afternoon–she’s showing their house to a prospective buyer, and she thought it might be a good idea to show it without him inside.
Aristotle: Ah. (Grrr.) It is all becoming clear to me now.
Confucius: The man of genuine strength maintain his place even in rapidly flowing river.
Aristotle: Please, not just now, bud. There’s a time and a place.
Confucius: I get it, man. Just trying to be useful.
Mr. T: My Prediction?
The Buddha: Pain. Heh heh.
Aristotle: Okay, look, i don’t think we can have a serious discussion with that man present.
Mr. T: Yeah, fool.
Aristotle: I was referring to YOU.
Mr. T: Oh. Okay. Got it.
The Buddha: My prediction: Pain.
Aristotle: And i don’t even want to know what his deal is. It’s like he’s absorbing the ‘T’ person’s personality just by sitting next to him.
The Buddha: I pity the fool.
Aristotle: [throwing up his hands] I cannot EVEN.
Confucius: I’ll admit, he doesn’t seem to be in rare form tonight. His material is usually MUCH better.
Aristotle: Which one?
Aristotle: Mmmm, wow. Good point.