Philosophy 101
By Jesus Moses


Rodney emailed me about taking my philosophy class next semester. There’s still weeks left of this semester. I imagine Rodney with gelled hair. Rodney with a briefcase.

I told him I could meet him in my “office.” A cubical that I share with other part-time instructors in a room full of cubicles that other part-time instructors share with each other.

I haven’t hung any pictures on the makeshift walls, or quotes or anything at all. I don’t even know how many other teachers share it with me. Every time I use the computer there, a different person’s login appears. They have weird names like “Gorbaycsis” or something. And others. Other weird names.

Normally, instead of going to my “office,” I sit in the parking lot grading papers in my car. I sit there for half of an hour twice a week, usually. But not if I have to meet a student. I am sitting in my friend’s cube when Rodney appears—I am not in “mine.” I’m not sure if it’s him at first. But who else would come here? The skinny boy walks up and down the rows of cubicles. He doesn’t have hair gel or a briefcase. He is moving fast, thinking fast too, I bet.

I say “Rodney?” And he turns around fast. We sit in my office and I give him a copy of this semester’s syllabus. I haven’t prepared next semester’s syllabus yet. This will have to do. My computer password is still the same one that the IT guy reset it to. I won’t say it, but you can imagine. It’s something like spring1234.

Rodney is more enthusiastic about my class than I am enthusiastic about anything in the world. He talks about how he’s failing a lot of his classes this semester, including another philosophy class. He asks me about random items on the syllabus. Like what is “Socrates' Decision to Die?” It’s the title of a reading, I say. And he pronounces every philosopher’s name wrong. Except
Aristotle.

He is positive that my class is just what he’s looking for. And his face melts off. Melts into a gooey stain on his pants. It drips down to create a little reflective puddle on the floor. I can see the reflection of my soul in it. And I have some trouble explaining “Socrates' Decision to Die” out of the context of a classroom. Face to faceless. Rodney’s hairless skull floats above me twitching a lot and dripping canola oil and cubes of barbeque sauce. And I try to shake his hand. And he tries to shake my hand. And we halfway shake each others' hands. Only the fingers shake. And Rodney walks out of my office. Leaving a trail of identical-looking Xanax and rat poison pills as if he plans to Hansel and Gretel his way back here.

I think I will go to the philosophy party on Friday. But I don’t really care about why nature is beautiful. That’s going to be the topic. I have to work, and I will be late to find out something that I don’t care about. Don’t even know if it is knowable. Don’t even care if it is knowable.

I say bye to my friend in the other cubicle. Her name is Charmaine. And she is going to the philosophy party on Friday too.

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jesus moses lives in chicago

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