Sunday, September 22, 2013


We were in the midst of one of our marathon question and answer sessions. They wear me out, but it’s what C.W. is here for so I can’t avoid them. When he appears as the Prudent Student, complete with thick-lensed eyeglass, a backpack and a shirt pocket full of pens of every color imaginable, I know I’m in for it.

We had already covered the subject of paying a football coach whose team loses games a salary in excess of $3million a year, why we place such emphasis on winning, and why we seem to be phasing science out of our high school curricula. He was getting exasperated and I was becoming despondent.

“Now,” he said as he selected a purple pen from his pocket and poised it over his notepad. “tell me about this new decision by members of your congress to quit funding the bringing down of one's foot heavily on food.”

“Say what?”

“Don’t you read your newspapers?”

“Not always. It scares me and I can’t sleep.”

“Hmmm,” he said and he made a note on the pad.

“A foot? On food?” I said.

“It’s all over the news. Your state’s four congressmen just voted to cut funding for it.”

“Do you mean ‘the stamping’ of food?”

“Isn’t that what I said?”

“You need to adjust your Galactic Universal Translator again," I said. "It is undependable.”

“I trust my GUT,” he said.

I rolled over laughing. He falls for it every time.

“What?” he said.

“I think you are talking about food stamps,” I said.

“Precisely,” he said. “Now why do your congressmen find them so repugnant?”

“I dunno,” I said. “Someone told them to, I suppose.”

“Aren’t they designed to help the poor and, how do you say it … the ‘least of those’ among you?”

“The congressmen?”

“No. Food stamps. Please be serious.” He was getting testy now so I focused on the question.”

“That is exactly what food stamps are designed to do. Help the poor.”

“So,” he said taking notes again. “if I am a mother of three children whose husband suddenly departs the scene by accident or choice, and I am, how do you say it … ‘without the basic necessities of life’ …”?


“Of course. So I am one for whom food stamps are intended.”

“One of the types, yes.”

“Or, say,” he said. “that I am a father who is stricken with a sudden illness and can no longer earn money to feed my family. I might rely on this expression of love and support from my fellow humans?”

“Something like that.”

“Perhaps I am the brother of a man who is killed along with his wife in a terrible accident and I take in his children and need help feeding them.”

“Society to the rescue,” I said.

“A damaged veteran of one of your many wars?”


“Children of your so-called Mississippi River delta who cannot escape their poverty?”

It seems to me that what your species needs
is a philosophy that teaches love for the poor. - C.W.
“Can we talk about something else?”

“One more question please.”


“These congressmen of yours … they made this decision while well-fed and comfortable?”

“Quite so.”

Rarely does C.W. shift shapes in my presence, but this was one of those times. As I watched, he changed from a bright-eyed student into a tired old man. When the change was complete, he looked at me and I’ll swear that I saw a long line of tired and hungry people marching across his face.

“I have much to learn about your species,” he said. “I only hope my heart can stand it.”

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