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Many years ago I was standing at the Reference Librarian's Desk in the Pollak Library at California State University, Fullerton with a question that seemed very important at the time. Something about microfilm, I think. In memory, everything seems very clear except why I was there in the first place. The phone rang. She excused herself, talked in hushed librarial tones for a long time, taking very careful notes, and seemed rather distracted after she hung up. She too, apparently, had forgotten why I was there. A man who made frequent use of her skills, a writer of some repute whose name she was careful not to repeat, wanted to know what day of the week a particular date was. The date was something like March 23, 20,000 BC. "He's a stickler for detail," she said.

She found a bundle of keys in a desk drawer, moved to unlock a glass walled room not far behind. It held a large box, a table, a chair, and a typewriter. This was the very dawn of the Age of the Internet. She went through an elaborate login procedure before posting her question. The typewriter clacked out rows of meaningless code on a continuous roll of drab yellow paper before going silent. "Now we wait," she said.

I could understand double checking to make sure it was Sunday when Perl Harbor was attacked, even the day of the week John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence. Someone would always raise a stink if you got that wrong. But, 20,000 BC? "Just call him back and say Tuesday," I said. She looked at me horrorstruck. "It's a meaningless question." "There's a sentence," she said, grabbing for her notes. "He wants to know because a character wakes up and… looks out on a beautiful              morning. He has to know what day of the week it was."

"To begin with," I said in my most calming tone, "in 20,000 BC there was no March 23, because there was no calendar. And there were no days of the week. And even if there were, there's no possible way we could ever coordinate them with the ones we now use." She showed signs that allowing me to follow her into the Holy of Internet Holies was a mistake. "The question is meaningless. From a false premise," I recited, "all conclusions are possible." Now she was showing signs of anger. "I am not going to tell him his question is meaningless," she snapped. "Then tell him Tuesday," I repeated.

Just then the typewriter began clattering. She watched and read with enormous anticipation, tore off six or eight inches of paper and hurried back to her desk.

When William was a small boy he asked one morning, "If you never met mom and never got married, and if you never had children and I was never born, would you still love me as much?"

"Of course," I said, as if he'd just asked the silliest question in the whole world. "How could I not love you?" He smiled, we hugged, he went back to his toys. It was a Tuesday, I think.
 
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