HAPLESS MALES (8)

*COCKLEBURS*

At dinner parties peculiar things started coming out of his mouth. Opinions. They were mostly liberal opinions and he lived on the West Coast so they plausibly belonged to him. What was peculiar was that they weren’t really his opinions. He didn’t have opinions beyond what kind of socks to put on with dress shoes but there he was proclaiming with absolute certainty about the IMF, the fault of NATO in the Ukraine, that daylight savings time should be abolished. Most of these opinions were ones he had picked up on television or from the comments section in the Times. Opinions stuck to him like cockleburs.

There was something invigorating about having opinions. The guests at the other end of the table put down their forks and wondered who was that person so committed and so smart about esoteric subjects.

Some topics gave a higher return than others. The afterlife, whether there was one, was a rainmaker. Previously he had never considered the question. Why would anyone care? He selected his opinion. There is an afterlife.

He promoted this opinion so often that it pupated into a hairy worm, a proto-belief. He got defensive if someone challenged him. For ammunition he started reading accounts about near-death experiences. They all had the same themes, the tunnel, the welcoming spirits. His proto-belief morphed again, this time into the butterfly of belief.

It was comforting. Even so, something still nagged, one little burr in the knapsack. He suspected that people claimed mystical experiences to get attention or the bucks.   He knew it was only his opinion, a real one, not a fake, though there was no difference.

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