Q. Big debate in the used-car sales director’s office. Isn’t nothingness the exact opposite of being?
A. I get that question a lot. Just the other day a guy in a hardware store asked me if I knew where they kept the nõthingness.
Q. What did you say?
A. I told him it was in aisle 19, but nǭt to bother. I was just over there and they were all out.
Q. All out of nothingness?
A. Nðthing but empty shelves. I even asked one of the clerks there when they expected to restock. Know what he said?
Q. Aren’t I supposed to ask the questions and then you give me the answer?
A. Just take a guess.
Q. Sounds like a trick question. So I’m guessing he didn’t say anything.
A. Wrong. He said nōthing.
Q. Same thing.
A. A lot of people say that. So I always ask them if they think the West Coast offense and the Erhardt-Perkins offensive system are the same.
A. I rest my case. And now, I’m due for my break, so if you’ll excuse–
Q. Just out of curiosity, if I went to that hardware store, would I find any being?
A. You mean as in “To bean or nőt to bean?”
Q. No. As in being. Not bean.
A. I do believe they are the same thing. But hold on, let me double check. Dum de Dum de Du… Ah. Yes, they are the same.
Q. Did you just hum Dum de Dum de Dum?
A. I did. It gooses my brain.
Q. Okay, so I’m referring to the word being, as in the title of the massively thick and obviously boring book “Being and Nothingness” by Camus. It’s right there on Bob, the sales director’s book shelf, next to the Chilton guide to the 1987 Mercury Thermometer.
A. I’m familiar with “Bean and Nöthingness,” but I’m pretty sure Camus’s last name – Camus — does nȱt rhyme with moo.
Q. Just to be clear, let me double check with my own brain gooser. Inagadda davida baby. Ah. His answering machine says Camus — rhyming with shampoo — is out of the office until the twelfth of then.
A. Ooblah dee ooblah da ooblah donut. Aha. I thought so. The philosopher known as Camus—as in Famous Amos Camus—wrote not only “Bean and Nóthingness,” but also “Musical Fruit.”
Q. Don’t forget, being is one of those multi-vitamin words that can be used as a noun, an adjective or a conjunction.
A. Or a legume
Q. Look, the word being that I’m referring to has two syllables. Be and ing. The be part means to exist. As in “I be,” or “He beez.” The ing part depends on if you’re going to go on existing or not.
A. Funny story. Without the an, bean would just be be. In the old Proto-Germanic tongue which was heavily saturated with garlic and beer, bean comes from the word ungō.
Q. Did you say Mungo? As in Mungo Jerry?
A. Forget him. He’s got women, he’s got women on his mind. In the summertime, of course. Ungō, on the other hand, simply means to un go, as in stop. Many people who ungō the bean go to the hardware store for nØthingness.
Q. I’m just trying to tell you that be is like a cinnamon for am. Like the song “I am, I said.”
A. To nô one there¿
Q. And no one heard at all, not even the chair.
A. But how would one ever know what a chair heard or didn’t? Unless we’re talking about a talking chair.
Q. OF COURSE WE’RE TALKING ABOUT A TALKING CHAIR, YOU STUPID ANSWER MAN!
A. Wow. I hate to say it, but the only piece of furniture I know of that can both hear and talk is a bean bag. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I hear my bean bag calling.
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2019, all rights reserved.