I just came back from The Looking-Glass Cafe where I had a few drinks with my optimist friend Candace Pealed. She'd been living in San Andreas, California for the past few years, and recently moved back to Ohio.
"So," I asked Candace. "Why'd you move back to California? Didn't you like it there?"
"Oh, I liked it a lot," said Candace, cheerfully. "I just got homesick for Ohio, that's all."
"Well, you might find yourself moneysick here. The local economy hasn't been all that good these past couple of years."
"Oh, Kirk, there are problems everywhere. You just have to face the world with a bright smile, and soon enough those problems will resolve themselves."
To prove her point, Candace intensified her already luminescent countenance.
"Plus, crime's gone up a bit. I was just reading about this rash of car break-ins, and--"
"Oh, Kirk, there's crime everywhere. Why just last month in San Andreas--"
Candace suddenly broke off in mid-sentence. The smile disappeared from her face, and a darkness enveloped her.
"Let's just change the subject," she said, in a small, timorous voice.
"Oh, Candace, I didn't mean to upset you."
"No, Kirk, it's nothing you said. It's j-just that last month, I was a-a...v-victim of a crime."
"Why, Candace, what happened?" Realizing I was being insensitive, I added, "If you'd rather not talk about it..."
"No, Kirk, I do want to talk about it. I think it will do me some good to get it out in the open. It was a home invasion!"
"Yes. I was sitting in my living room watching the Oprah channel, when suddenly this gang of pessimists broke through the front door."
"How do you know they were pessimists?"
"They were wearing T-shirts with pictures of Arthur Schopenhauer, Søren Kierkegaard, Ingmar Bergman, and Kurt Cobain on them."
"It was terrible. Just terrible. The pessimists overwhelmed me. There were too may to fight back. They tied me to a chair, and one of them went into the kitchen and came back with a glass of water."
"Well, at least they didn't want you to get thirsty."
"Oh, no, Kirk, that's not why they brought out the water. You see, while one of the pessimists held the glass of water up to my eyes, another pulled out a gun and pressed it against the side of my head, and then, they-they--"
Tears began to well up in Candace's eyes.
"Hey, Candace, if you really don't want to talk--"
"No, Kirk, I-I'm OK. Let me finish. The pessimist held the gun up to my head--and forced me to say that the glass was half-empty instead of half-full!"
"Oh, my God!"
Candace started to cry. I waited a couple of minutes for her to compose herself, and then said to her, gingerly, "Oh, Candace, I feel so sorry for you. How did you ever survive such an ordeal?"
Candace's face suddenly brightened. "It was miracle, Kirk. It restored my faith in faith!"
"There was this sudden earthquake, and my bookcase full of self-help, self-improvement and self-empowerment literature fell over on one of the pessimists, killing him instantly!"
"Egad--What a gruesome way to die! Still, I guess he had it coming. What about the rest of the pessimists?"
"When the bookcase fell, they all got scared and ran off."
"So there's a bunch of pessimists still at large?"
"No, the police caught up with them. They were all brought to trial."
"I hope the judge threw the book at them."
"He did. They were sentenced to ten years walking hot coals at Tony Robbins seminars."
"They got just what they deserve."
"So, you see, Kirk, it all works out in the end. I've only got one complaint."
"When the bookcase fell, my copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul got damaged."
"Well, you can always get another one."
"Oh, I know. In fact, I'm inspired to go out and buy a copy right now and re-read it. Um, Kirk, I've been out of town for awhile. Can you tell me where there's a good bookstore around here?"
"Oh, Candace, I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings... "