"What on earth are you up to, Charles, darling?," I said, coming into the garden with my parasol, fizzy drink, and glossy magazine.
"Why must I be up to anything? Why is it not enough simply to be?" he murmured, holding his face to the sun.
"How stupid of me," I replied, feeling very stupid, indeed. But while I was on a roll, I intended to make the most of it.
"Charles...do you ever think about the deeper mysteries in life?"
"What do you mean?"
"You know, the grand scheme, so to speak: what we're all doing here on this mad planet, whether the fountain of youth is for real, why bad things happen to good people, and if a tree falls in a forest when no one's listening, does it still make a sound?"
He fixed me with a stare and I had the good grace to blush.
"I can't believe you included the fountain of youth in all that," he said.
"I'm sorry," I said, blushing more furiously still, "I was hoping you'd know."
"At any rate, if you're wondering whether I'm a religious fellow, the answer is no."
"No?!" There I went again, sounding like a churlish parrot! So rustic! So coarse! So naive!
"How could I be? Religion is a luxury, my dear girl, one of those top of the food chain frills. You show me a mantid who turns the other cheek and I'll show you a chap who's about to become someone else's amuse bouche."
"Charles, I do so love it when you speak French." I could not keep myself from saying this.
"Being my brother's keeper, dreaming of my mansion on high...no, no, it simply won't do. That sort of thing is fine and dandy if your mother didn't leave you and about two hundred of your siblings to hatch out in the middle of nowhere, primed to get eaten at any moment. Try and explain the meaning of life to that heart of darkness! No, it's carpe diem all the way for me, dear girl. That, with a pinch of hedonism and a healthy dose of Darwin's theory."
I surreptitiously tossed my magazine onto the compost heap, realizing what a fat lot of good it had done to fill my head with such tripe when I hadn't the faintest clue what this invertebrate was talking about!
"If you say so, Charles, darling. All I know is I look at you and believe in miracles."
"You're in good company, my dear. When you must shed your entire exoskeleton seven times in order to survive, it's not uncommon to command a certain degree of hero worship."