The Socratic Method

by Ezra Fox

Socrates is one ugly mother fucker.  He’s got bug eyes and a snub nose, but confidence goes a long way.  He strolls over to me, I’m at the bar, waiting for a friend, and he says, “Yes, I actually am Socrates.”

Before anything else, he just comes out and says it.  And yeah, I was curious, if it was him or not, but it takes some balls, doesn’t it, to come right out and say it?  But I’ve read the Symposium and I know where this is going, so I put a stop to it before it gets any further.

“I’m not gay.  If you want to talk, that’s cool, but we’re not going to bone.”

“How do you know you’re not gay?”

“Because I’m not attracted to guys.  And you’re one ugly mother fucker. No offense.”

“None taken.  So you’re attracted to girls?”


“All of them?”

“Well, no, not all of them.  Just the attractive ones.”

“What are they like?  Point them out to me,” Socrates says.  And I pick up on a pale-skinned Russian girl in a black top, rolling a tooth pick between her lips as she waits for another dirty martini.

“Her,” I say.  “I’d hit that.  Twice.”

“But she’s a man,” Socrates says.  “I thought you said you weren’t gay.  If you were trying to convince me of your heterosexuality you didn’t do very well.”

“She’s not a man, is she?”

“Could be, could be.  It seems possible, then, that you might be attracted to a man,” Socrates says, carelessly grazing my elbow with his hand.

“Yeah, but that doesn’t make me gay.”

“No?  Then what would?”

“If I was attracted to guys a lot,” I say.  “And I’m not.  Just the ones that look like hot Russian girls, apparently.”

“Then let’s have an exercise,” he says, eyeing my half-finished pint of
Guinness.  “Do you like beer?”

“Sure,” I say, raising the glass.  “It’s great.”

“And did you like it the first time you tried it?”

My mind shot back to a sip of my dad’s Pabst when I was ten.

“No,” I say.  “No, I didn’t.”

“But you kept on trying it, because you wanted to like it.  Like coffee.  Like modern art.  Like…”

“Gay sex?”

“Could be, could be,” says Socrates, smiling slowly.

Socrates continues clutching at my hips and rhythmically pressing against the backs of my thighs.

“It’s not terrible,” I say, “but it’s not what I’d call pleasurable.”

“What is pleasure?” he asks, placing one hand on my back to steady himself.

“It’s an irreducible phenomenological experience,” I say, as Socrates breaks a sweat.  “I feel it immediately.”

“But is that the only kind of pleasure?” he asks, moving his hand up to my hair and tussling it.

“Well, no,” I say.  “Doing community service is different than eating chocolate.  One kind of pleasure you feel right away and the other you feel later.”

“So something could be pleasurable later that wasn’t pleasurable in the moment,” he gasps, quickening his gait.

“So… that could be this?” I ask.

“Could be,” Socrates exhales, stroking my head.  “Could be.”

EZRA FOX is an MFA fiction student at San Francisco State University. He and his friends make fun of the worst books in the world at

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