Thoughts on the Oracle

And I'm standing at the intersection of Broadway, Clark, and Diversey, after midnight, the streetlights casting their amber-gold hues on everything, the same damn ambient light that blocks out the stars. Across the street, there's a man who looks like the Oracle, but he's Asian and shorter, and the Oracle shaved his mustache over twos year ago, against my advice and I presume, his better judgment.

It was about year ago, a little more, when the Oracle confessed to me, sheepishly, that he'd only use one type of razors and he could only find them at Wal-Mart and so that was the only time the Oracle would patronize what he found to be such a corporate and imperialistic entity. I remember say that he should just find a second-best type of razor instead of give up his values and his lips curled into a pleasant smile and he said, in his own quiet and logical way, "We all fall from grace, Michael."

The Oracle seemed to know everything. He knew about life. He knew the truth about the politics, such a prolific conspiracy theorist I'd never encountered… but he could explain himself in such a way that you'd be too convinced and frightened to question him. The Oracle told me how someday soon, the people would realize how they'd been lied to and take up arms. I believed the Oracle would lead the revolution. The Oracle had lived all over the world and knew so much; he was desperate to share that knowledge with me. And in an even more convincing and quiet way, the Oracle would teach me about emotions and things that had little to do with anyone in the world but me.

I had visited the Oracle after my frequently exed girlfriend had left me and I was convinced, like I always was, that this time, this time it'd be for good. The Oracle had stroked his now clean-shaven face and told me about malignant narcissists and how some women can't help but hurt strong and giving men. I believed the Oracle but I still went back to her.

Why? Because the Oracle was so full of knowledge and wisdom and life, but everything he said held the lint of regret, like he had carried all the burdens of the world on his shoulders for lives long before his. And I'd look at the Oracle, this man who told me he saw so much of himself in me and I knew I didn't want to have those regrets. We'd talk until his tiny office grew dark and neither of us had sense enough to turn the lights on so we'd adjourn for the day. I'd go home and think about the Oracles words, but the fear of those regrets always won out and I'd end up discarding a lot of them.

Another time I went to see the Oracle, he asked me why I hadn't fled our beloved homeland to greater academic and cultural possibilities and he decided on an answer before I could give one and said, yes, yes, I was characterized by very gentle masculinity and I was young, wasn't I? I didn't realize how much sense his answer had made until later when I remembered why my visits to the Oracle were far between. I wasn't always ready to face his insights and he always taught me something about himself. I was afraid of all the answers that lay behind that thick oak door on the third floor of Somsen Hall.

The Oracle had been a warrior once, a knight really. I knew he had taken up the mantle of his great values and his belief of inner truth. I could imagine what a formidable foe the Oracle must have been and once he lamented to me the story of his great defeat. After that, the Oracle had slunk into his office peacefully, like a captive prince, or a great wizard, one who was waiting for better days to strike out again. I romanticized him into the great King Arthur, lying asleep in Avalon until the world was ready for such a ruler again. The Oracle politely reminded me that I should be saving my strength for the revolution. I patted his shoulder lightly and promised to think about it.

That satisfied the Oracle for the time.

Eventually I moved away. I saw the Oracle a few times and each time, he remarked how fitting my new life must be and I had to admit, I had not been unhappy with my decision to move the dirty city, the one where ambient light blocked out all the stars and the buses were filled with knobby knees and broad shoulders and sixty-dollar haircuts. The Oracle wished me well. I had taken his advice without knowing it. I asked him to grow his mustache back so he would look like he did in all my memories. He stroked the hairless patch above his lip and promised to think about it. I again told him I'd consider the revolution.

And so I stood there on that three-way intersection, thinking about the Oracle and his Asian doppelganger, about his wisdom and revolution. I miss the Oracle. I know I should make a pilgrimage home sometime soon because I still have questions for the Oracle again and well… Oracles don't believe in phones or email.