It doesn’t take long for thankfulness to fly out of the window

“I will have two martinis,” said the woman I didn’t know, as she stood by the door holding a menu, both of which feature our logo, which is a martini glass garnished with an olive.

“What kind would you like?”

“You know, regular.”

They say there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers. I think the “they” in that equation must have spent some time in the restaurant business.

“Vodka or gin?”

“Vodka, of course,” she said.

“Of course?”

The look on her face reminded me that sometimes it’s better to think things, rather than say them aloud.

“What kind of vodka?”

“You know.”

I obviously didn’t know. I didn’t even know her.

Three different suggestions were rejected.

“I want something I have never tried before.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know, you tell me.”

They call it Thanksgiving weekend, but the thanks seem to run out somewhere around midnight Thursday. Funny that the day we are supposed to be thankful for all that we have is followed by a day that positively exudes rampant materialism. Materialism starts with self-centeredness. And self-centeredness is the inability to see the world around you as it is. It’s demanding special attention when 20 people are waiting, or parking in the handicapped space just because. Or assuming that everyone likes dogs, when they don’t.

Self-centeredness also manifests itself in the belief that what you “believe” is what is right, not just what you believe. I “think” this, and I “feel” that. It’s not that we all don’t think or feel things, but we don’t all think and feel the same things.

Eventually two martinis were made: one “dirty” and one “regular,” and neither with vermouth. And there are plenty of people out there who would refuse to recognize either one as a martini.

Diatribes about this very thing go on online constantly. It’s one of the reasons I don’t argue on the internet anymore. What is the point? Argument used to be the way to the truth. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle all famously agreed on dialectic argument, the use of a reasoned dialogue between two schools of thought with the goal of reaching the “truth” by eliminating emotional appeal and rhetoric. Oddly enough, the three men (Socrates was Plato’s teacher, and Plato was Aristotle’s) rarely agreed on anything else. What hope is there for us?

“This martini is wrong,” said the woman, looking at the two drinks sitting on the bar.

“Wrong? How so?” I asked.

“They are both dirty.”

“No, they’re not,” I said, noting that I had just made both of them.

“Yes, they are.”

Where are Socrates, Plato or Aristotle when you really need them?

“One is clear, and the other is cloudy,” I said, secure in the facts.

She waved her hands around agitated, as if performing a spell over the two drinks in that way that positively screams, well, it screams something, but let’s stay away from emotional appeal.

“They are both dirty,” she exclaimed, exasperated.

“Dirty means with olive juice,” I said finally, making an attempt to clarify. Socrates would have been proud. Aristotle and Plato, not so much.

“No, it doesn’t,” she replied.

I looked at the woman who was about my age, who had just ordered martinis in an upscale bar, and thought to myself that there is no way she really believes that.

“To me,” she said condescendingly, curling her hands and pointing all of her fingers at herself, “‘dirty’ means with olives.”

And there it was, in a nutshell, the heart of the problem with belief. You can believe whatever it is you want. But if nobody else believes it, you are going to start having problems. And when your beliefs start costing other people money, you are really going to start having problems.

Eventually, I just remade her drink and went to throw out the old one. In a moment of giving, I asked another martini drinker at the bar if he wanted it.

“Is it gin?” he asked.

Leaving me with these thoughts:

• What is absolute to you might be abstract to someone else.

• Take it from a guy who has made at least 250,000 martinis, there is no such thing as a “regular” martini.

• “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away,” once wrote science fiction author and one-time Marin resident Philip K. Dick.

• Fifteen dollars seems a small price to pay for belief, until it’s your $15 and someone else’s beliefs.

• The customer is always right. The customer is always right! THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT! No matter how many times you say something, nor how loudly, doesn’t mean it’s true.