After a few days’ guilty twinges about the demise of half a dozen gummy bears in the name of science (and boredom alleviation), I felt ready to confront the surviving little guys again and let them know their peers had at least died a good death. But instead of gummy bears, Miss V thrust at me a handful of gummy worms.
Whereas I feel culpable for the way the bears dissolved in the Bacardi Big Apple, worms are a different matter. There’s no obvious parallel between bears and rum. There’s a huge parallel between worms and mescal. And you may remember that I coached the bears into the Bacardi, but you can’t really coach a worm to do anything.
You can’t even worry about a worm’s consciousness. Cut a worm in half and you get two worms, both wriggling. Whither goes the consciousness?
This thought actually freaks me out. I have maybe two brain cells, which together form some sort of consciousness. Neither of the cells is independently conscious; their synergy creates consciousness, and that’s probably how it works with you humans and your trillions of cells.
But weren’t you once one cell? When that cell divided, did its consciousness divide also? Or is that consciousness supra-cellular, merely scaffolded by cells? Or does consciousness join the party later? OMG, my fellow inebriates, when questions like these start bothering you, you know it’s time to get drunk.
As with the bears, we took a hard look at the worms to determine what they really wanted. This time we knew they wouldn’t survive the experience—we were asking them to go on a very pleasurable suicide mission already unsuccessfully navigated by the larva resting on the mescal bottle floor.
The problem with worms is their ability to divide and establish new selves. To be really thorough, we had to hack one in half and then consult both halves about their alcoholic destiny. And then to be really thorough, V thought we should hack the halves in half.
The worms didn’t seem to mind, although they definitely weren’t wriggling after our nasty work. (I can’t remember if they were wriggling before.) Anyway, V didn’t feel guilty, so I decided I wouldn’t either.
The prospect of zero guilt plus a pretext for opening the mescal to make it con gummy gusano was too appealing. Naturally Miss V was up for the project, but would her strong little hands be strong enough?
Maybe when she’s 5.