Or put another way, a guy we knew in college asked us, "Do you ever wonder if everyone is a robot but you?" We had to laugh at the time, and secretly think well he didn't mean us of course, we're friends, but come a year later when a girl accused him of sexually assaulting her after a party, well, you can be sure we thought of that remark again. After that blew over, we walked with him across the campus. It was a fresh snow on the ground, icicles hanging from the buildings, and while he was talking about something a snowball hit him square on the shoulder. We all looked back, but there was no one in sight, no buildings near enough, in fact no one at all but what seemed to be an extremely old man walking with great care and deliberation through the ice. His head down. Now, we are not the type inclined to throw snowballs at old men, but the guy, our friend, he looked at us with wide eyes and we looked back and had to admit, yes, it definitely seemed like this particular old man had decided to throw a snowball at our friend. There wasn't enough time to think it through -- our friend wanted revenge. "Should I do it?" he asked us as he reached into the snow. "He had to have done it, right?" We sort of agreed, though not without a funny feeling creeping along the edges as we watched him pack a very dense, very excellent snowball and launch it full force at the old man.
Did we think he was right? No, of course not. Did we stop him? It all happened so fast -- that's the expression, but well we could have said, "No no, it probably just fell from a tree," which of course it had, it had in fact fallen from the branches of the oak above us and that seemed obvious no sooner than our friend's snowball hit the old man right on the top of his bare bald head, and when he looked up shaking with cold or anger and began asking us why it was very clear at this point that our friend, who wondered about robots, and us, well we could only laugh though years later what stands out most is not that we didn't stop him but that we didn't because we were friends, which we're not now, no falling out just time, and though he of course has new friends who must like him it still makes us wonder a bit, wonder