Someone knocked at the door. My wife peeked out through the curtains.
“It’s the agnostics,” she said.
“How can you tell?” I asked.
“The nondescript way they’re dressed, midway between suit and polo shirt. And their car parked out front…”
“See what I mean? I’ll tell them to go away.” She had been washing dishes and had a gigantic carving knife in her hand. They would have left with no protest.
“No, I’ll get it. It’s my turn,” I said.
“Okay, but don’t let them rope you into a long debate. Remember how hard it was to get the Jehovah’s Witnesses off our porch?”
She went back to the kitchen sink and I answered the door.
“Bob and Wendy of the Agnostics,” I said, reading their nametags.
They were only slightly taken aback. “And we were wondering…”
“If you could have a minute of my time.”
Wendy wasn’t bad looking in a college-educated way and poor Bob had a head too small for the rest of his body with beady eyes and ears that stuck out. Perfect.
“But only a minute and not a second more. My wife is sharpening knives in the kitchen and I hate to distract her.”
They glanced at each other but their training took over and they marched into the house.
“No,” I said. “The evening is too pleasant, let’s go into the back yard.”
I seated them at our new table, poured wine for everyone and gave them a broad smile.
“Mr. Mig. We’d like to talk to you about the ordering force in the universe, little-g god, big-G God, whatever you choose to call it, whether or not it exists, which you have to admit cannot be objectively verified.”
“Love,” I said, taking another sip of wine.
“Excuse me?” Wendy said.
“I call it love.”
“Or happiness. They boil down to the same thing.”
“Okay, Mig. Hard to say in the end, isn’t it.”
“Not for me.”
“Ah, but how can you be so sure? I mean, somedays, yeah, you smell a rose and are overcome with the divinity and spirituality of creation, sure. But others, you’re living on a dead rock.”
“Maybe you are. I’m sure not.”
“But, ‘love’,” Bob said. “How vague can you get? Is there any word more misunderstood than ‘love’?”
“I mean something very precise,” I said. “You know the new Nickelback video in heavy rotation on MTV?” I asked them. They nodded.
“Sure, we watch MTV like everyone else.”
“Where the chick is crying and can’t see the guy and drives off and gets smeared by a semi and *doing* now she can see the guy? Because now they’re both dead? That’s not the love I mean. Not anything obsessional and full of death. That video should be banned because it links love and death like that. I mean the jelly-shaking life force of the Beyonc