“I do apologize,” apologized Bartholomew, “for the situation in which we now find ourselves. I do feel terribly about the whole thing.” Bartholomew spoke carefully, his mouth being half-full of broccoli at the time.

“And why are you sorry?” asked the broccoli, “it is for this purpose that I was given existence. It is a terrible, cruel existence, true, but it is my birthright. Would you deny it me?”

“Only to offer you a better.”

“It is not yours to offer, would you defy your Creator?”

Bartholomew slumped. That is to say, his shoulders slumped. Very shortly after, he followed suit. “No. I would not. Rather I would deify Him.”

“Of course, as is proper. By definition one who has created you—one who has given to you your very existence—is a deity,” chided the broccoli.

“Not so,” argued Bartholomew, “by definition, ‘deity’ is the essential nature or condition of being a god. A god need not necessarily create, some may destroy, and some may do nothing but exert their petty influences upon this cruel universe in which we find ourselves trapped.”

“Or another,” offered the broccoli.

“What’s that?” queried Bartholomew.

“Or another universe,” repeated the broccoli. “Unless you are so arrogant to think that only our own universe has any gods.”

“I’m not qualified to say whether there are any other universes at all,” said Bartholomew sadly.

“Of course you aren’t,” agreed the broccoli, “but it would be arrogant, don’t you think, to believe that ours is the only one?”

“I suppose that’s true,” mused Bartholomew. “Oh… excuse me,” he said, having accidentally spat a bit of the broccoli as he spoke with his mouth half full. By now the portion of broccoli remaining in his mouth was quite well processed, and he swallowed.

“Not at all,” said the broccoli, “that portion of me which has now begun to nourish you is quite incapable of being aware of its fate. You have committed no crime to be pardoned of.”

“Pardon?” asked Bartholomew, “oh no, you mistake me. I meant to attempt conciliation for the spitting, not the swallowing.”

“I see,” replied the broccoli. “I feel that I must interject here, that I have enjoyed our conversation so far, but it is an inescapable fact that once you have finished consuming me, you will have no more of me left to talk to.”

Until the next meal,” agreed Bartholomew sadly. “So then, I will put down my fork. Let us talk.”

Blasphemy!” exclaimed the broccoli.

“Please?” pleaded Bartholomew. He set his fork down on the table, careful to rest it on his plate and not on the fine white linen tablecloth.

“It isn’t proper,” insisted the broccoli.

“But still I find the entire exchange very edifying,” begged Bartholomew.

“It is somewhat ironic,” lectured the broccoli, “that I should be the source of your revelation. Wouldn’t you think it should be the other way ‘round?”

“I suppose that’s true,” answered Bartholomew, “still, let’s continue?”

The broccoli sighed heavily, exhaling a great quantity of air in doing so. Bartholomew was too intent on the existential matters at hand to consider the ramifications of this seemingly innocuous action by brassica olearacea. “It is folly,” began the broccoli, “for your consumption of me to provoke in you any feelings of remorse. It is written:

"And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

“And so it has been ordained by God, whose status as deity you have recognized, that I am here for your consumption. I am fodder for the insatiable hunger you have been damned with. It is ironic that you pity me, for I pity you. I have no hunger.”

“Nor any joy,” countered Bartholomew.

“I have my own sort of joy,” lied the broccoli, “I take joy in fulfilling my purpose, which is to be fodder for men damned to this universe that you call cruel.”

“Damned? Then you agree that the universe is cruel,” declared Bartholomew, triumphant.

“I am not qualified to say that it is or is not,” evaded the broccoli, “I’m only a side dish.”