Should I rise from my bed or should I remain in my bed? This is the first question I face, each and every day. Yes, each and every day I must decide, before all else, whether to get out of my bed or whether to not get out of my bed. This is how I go about it.
When I wake—which is to say when I am conscious and the words first come into my mind, the infernal words!—I draw up two columns: in the first column (to the left) remaining in bed, in the second column (to the right) getting out of my bed. In the first column (remaining in bed, to the left) I assign a score. Let us say the score of staying in bed is 8 of a possible 10. In fact, it is closer to 10 of a possible 10, in my estimation, but let us call it 8. Nothing in the world is a 10 of a possible 10. That would be perfection, which you will doubtless agree is unattainable in this god-forsaken world. So let us agree to call it an 8.
Now, in the the second column (getting out of bed, to the right), I assign a score. Not a score for getting out of bed, as such, but rather a score for the many horrors and indignities which are a certain consequence of this initial act. And a score for the pleaures also. For example, the taking off of one’s comfy pajamas in the cold and dark morning, a horror. To this barbarism I assign the lowest score possible, a 0 of a possible 10. Clearly, staying in bed in one’s pyjamas is preferable to the taking off of one’s pyjamas. There is no doubting the matter. I continue, placing my score in the second column, the getting out of bed column. Next I consider the making of toast, a pleasure. To this I assign a 5, toast being neither perfection nor barbarism. It is a pleasure of a kind. If the toast is accompanied by olive oil, I assign 6. If by olive oil and tomatoes, 7.
I continue in this way, assigning the score to the many predictable factors of my day. For each day is much like the others: the rising, the taking off of pajamas, the toast (sometimes dry, sometimes with oil) the checking of the mail, the telephone calls offering me subscriptions of newspapers, evacuation of the bowels, masturbation, supper. To achieve the scientific rigor of a detective, I must also factor in the rare surprise. Yes, on occasion I place the element of surprise into the right column—the getting out of bed, or second, column. For example, the arrival of an unanticipated guest, such as Dmitri. Or a friendly letter in the mail, such as from Vladimir. Or a windfall, such as an inheritance. I place one such surprise into the appropriate column (which, please note, is the second column) and I assign a score. The result is something like:
– taking off the pajamas: 0
– toast: 5
– ” with oil: 6
– ” with oil & tomato: 7
– checking of the mail: 3
– a friendly letter in the mail: 9
– unsolicited telephone calls: 2
– evacuation, of bowels: 8
– masturbation: 7
– supper: 7
Now the trick is to go through these columns of mine, looking for the greatest return on my investment. If remaining in bed is an 8 of a possible 10, which it is, then it stands to reason that I ought to remain in bed if am to attain nothing of a 9 or a 10 by rising. But of course there is a wrinkle, always a wrinkle; for, as you can see, by remaining in bed I suffer the opportunity cost of foregoing the emptying of my bowels, which I enjoy equally to staying in bed. Indeed, on the days when I choose to stay in bed, I find that I think only of the emptying of my bowels, which I have forgone, thus detracting from my pleasure. So to resolve this dilemma of mine—which is what it is, a dilemma—I draw up a second set of columns, thus:
It is true that I have determined both to be an 8 of a possible 10. But take notice: if I lie in bed dwelling upon the misery of my foregone evacuation of the bowels, I detract from the pleasure I have scored as an 8. The 8, understand, is a gross pleasure, whereas the net pleasure (once the pain, as it were, of my opportunity cost is factored in) is more like a 5. And also take notice: if I get out of bed to evacuate my bowels, I will step into the cold air of my apartment. Therefore I must deduct some points from the evacuation of my bowels, also. The result:
5 (net) 5 (net)
As you can see, toast (with oil/tomato), supper, and masturbation are now in the lead, not because they are more pleasurable but because bed and bowels are less, all the facts having been weighed. But, again, these are the gross scores, the toast etc., inconveniences and opportunity costs not having been factored in. So I seek out the facts, and I write them in my little detective book. It is all here. Toast is 3. Supper is 4. Masturbation is 1. I am not going to dredge up the many facts informing these calculations, you will have to take my word on it. The math, rest assured, is solid.
It follows that the only hope of mine, if I am to not regret getting out of bed, is the visit or the kind letter of a friend. However, I have no friends. Or at least I have no friends of the sort who write letters or visit. Neither my friend Dmitri nor my friend Vladimir. Indeed it would be a double surprise to receive a letter or visit from a friend: in the first instance, the surprise of receiving a letter and/or visit, and in the second instance the surprise of learning that one has a letter-sending/visiting friend. A double surprise must surely count as a 9.5, deducting only in consideration of the principle of unattainable perfection.
In any case today is the day I shall report the results of my investigation. So I have risen. My day is underway. Perhaps I will receive a letter, or a visit, from a friend I did not know I had—a friend who writes letters and/or visits. The odds are against it, but perhaps it will happen. In the meantime I will report on my findings concerning the election. They want to know if the Russians hacked. And, if so, they want to know did this hacking influence the election? Again, as with toast and masturbation, there are so many factors to one’s calculations. I have looked into the relevant facts, as well as the irrelevant ones. It is difficult to say, at first sight, what is relevant and what is not. So I have looked into both, and I have made my notes.
According to my notes there was hacking, yes. The thing is beyond question. And according to my notes there are Russians, most definitely. But there is also a new President who is going to make America great again. The new President is rich and powerful. He is a winner who wins. He is not politically correct, no not even a tiddle, if that is a word. He despises liberals, it is true. According to my sources, he lives in a tower of gold. Remarkable!
Perhaps the Russians hacked. Yes, I am certain they did. Suppose that they did. Imagine that this hacking influenced the election. I am certain it did, but ask yourself: is this such a bad thing? Before you answer, consider the many factors. For example, the fact that the people have spoken. Democracy is too precious to entrust to people. There are other considerations, other facts, other factors. There is now a President-elect. He is going to make America great again. He wins. He is rich. His brand will spread across the world and conquer.
I submit my report to the Electoral College, as follows:
– Hacking: 3 – Winning: 9.5
– Russians: 2 – Towers of gold: 9.5
– Democracy: 7 – Power: 9.5
– Transparency: 1 – Despising liberals: 9.5
– Spreading one’s brand across the globe: 9.5
– Making America Great Again: 9.5
As you can see, none of this concern over hacking and Russians matters. No, not as much as winning and making America great again matter. These are what matter, the greatness and the gold and the power and the winning. The facts are plain. They are irrefutable. I therefore conclude that everything is fine. Let us go on.