A Friend to All Is a Friend to None
Plato pressed the “like” button under Aristotle's status:
Poetry is a more serious business than history,
for poetry speaks of universals, history of particulars.
Then he wrote on his wall:
You posted your status ten minutes ago.
Therefore, you must be at home, and probably alone.
Would you be so inclined as to watch television with me tonight?
Aristotle arrived promptly at 8
and found his host
(sitting in his den,
which he called the “Man Cave”)
focused on the forms
flitting across the TV screen.
“Plato, how many friends do you have?”
“I think it was 216, last I checked.
Say, would you like some popcorn?
And Pepsi? I'll be right back.”
As he rounded the coffee table,
his flowing toga caught
the jaunty basket of wax fruit
and sent oranges, pears, and grapes
tumbling to the carpet.
“Oh, not again!” Plato griped,
but Aristotle was already on the floor:
“Don't worry, I'll get it.”
When Plato returned with the drinks,
he found Aristotle thumbing through
his copy of I Know That I Know Nothing,
signed by Sir Socrates himself.
“Ah, one of my dearest friends,
poor man. May he rest in peace.
Now, what were you saying about friends?
How many do you have?”
“Well, I've been working on a new theory.
It all started when I was studying my friends list
the other night and Mencius' status appeared.
It was a mess of squiggles and dots, and I realized that
I could never gain anything from his nonsensical posts.
Through this, I saw one important element of friendship:
utility to each other. I decided to delete everyone
who serves me no purpose. I also determined
that sincere friends enjoy each other's company.
After culling those who irk me—
I need not explain why Diogenes,
with his lantern, was first to go—
I concluded that true friends
have a common commitment to the good.
Accordingly, I deleted any
whose stati or photos revealed less—
the pictures of the party Epicurus
threw the other night were especially revolting.
After all this, I realized that I only had one friend left.
I have concluded that one can only really have
one true friend.”
“I see,” Plato said, nodding. “Excuse me
for a moment—I think the popcorn's done.”
He went through the kitchen to the study,
where—glancing down the hallway now and again—
he got online and clicked his way to Aristotle's page.
Yes, it was true. Down below his picture and info
(Networks: Academy of Athens; Peripatetic School.
Birthday: Bashfulness is an ornament to youth, but a reproach to old age.
Current City: A great city is not to be confounded with a populous one.)
was the list. Friends: 1 friend. Plato looked closely
at the small picture under the statement. Broad forehead,
mustache, and full, curled beard—yes! It was he!
He was Aristotle's one remaining friend.
Back down the hallway came Plato,
bearing bowls of ultra-buttered popcorn.
“What should we watch tonight?” Aristotle
asked, “Ghost Hunters? Man vs. Wild?”
Plato lifted his bubbling liquid in a toast
and replied, “Friend, you may choose tonight.”