How Cosmo Overcame Trans-universal Envy By Ramblin' Gamblin' Willie

Copyright 1985, 1986 by Gregory S. Swann. All Rights Reserved.
Direct inquiries to CIS I.D. 75115,1341.

How Cosmo Overcame Trans-universal Envy
By Ramblin' Gamblin' Willie
        "Oops!," said Cosmo, stumbling over my foot, splashing his vodka
martini on my jacket. "Terribly sorry. My mind was elsewhere."
        Out of courtesy to my host, I resisted the urge to say something
rude. Also the urge to leave at once: the party life is not for me. And
though instantly a waiter was there, swabbing at my side, I'd had as much
tiresome chatter and glittering zircon affection as I can take. The vodka
shower was a bonus. I really should have taken my cue.
        Instead, I looked at the slightly dark spot where the spilled
vodka was rapidly evaporating and said, "Think nothing of it. It's just as if
it didn't happen."
        "Yes, of course," said Cosmo. "In fact, there's an alternate universe
where it =did not= happen."
        "...?," I replied. "How's that?"
        "At the time that I spilled the drink on you, an alternate universe
was created. In that universe, I =did not= spill the drink on you."
        "On whom did you spill it...?" I don't know why these people are
attracted to me... Cosmo is not Cosmo's real name, of course; I assume that
even people who don't do American Express commercials have libel lawyers.
        "Gosh," he said. "I'm not sure. I was thinking that I didn't spill it
on anyone. But there's always the possiblility that still =other=
universes were created where I spilled the drink on other people..."
        "Oh, well," he sighed. "That's the way the wave front collapses..."
        "...I'm confused."
        "Not surprising. You see, this is the very latest scientific
        "...I'll bet."
        "If you =do= bet, even if you lose, you win!"
        "And if I drive to New Mexico, will I wind up on the moon?"
        "Very possibly."
        I said: "...?"
        "For every potential alternative, in your experience, only
one of the two possible outcomes actually results, correct?"
        "So if I flip a coin, it can come up either heads or tails, but
not both, right?"
        "...?," I repeated.
        "If I flip a coin, and I see that it has come up heads, another
universe has been created where another me sees that it has come up tails."
        "If I flip the coin a thousand times, then a thousand new universes
are created!"
        "...Given your argument," I said, "then =another= thousand
universes were created where you flipped the coin fewer than a thousand times.
        "...Yes. I guess so."
        "Plus an infinite number of universes where you flipped it more
than a thousand times."
        "Plus =another= infinite number of universes where you did something
else entirely."
        "Yes, yes," said Cosmo. "Of course."
        "=Each= of which has its own infinite number of permutations."
        "...I hadn't thought of it that way... I guess you're right."
        "All of this while every other alternative in the universe and
universes is going through the same process, each creating new universes
at the rate of infinity raised to the infinite power =per= alternative.
Am I getting this right?"
        "...It sounds right to me..."
        "It does?!? Where are you =putting= these universes?"
        Deep breath. "Ever heard of Occam's Razor?"
        Cosmo caressed his chin. "I use a Remington."
        "No," I said. "Occam's Razor is a logical proposition. It says that
entities must not needlessly be multipled. Another way of saying the
same thing is that the simplest explanation to fit all of the facts is
the one that is true."
        "Yeah, so... What are you getting at?"
        "That when you flip the coin, or do anything else, only one thing
happens, not both."
        He stomped his foot. "The best minds of science postulate that both
things =do= happen in alternate universes. Who are =you= to argue with
        "Who am I to challenge the gods...? Is that it?"
        "Well, =I= wouldn't put it that way. Besides, in another universe you
agree with me!"
        "Therefore, in another universe you disagree with yourself...?"
        "Yes...," said Cosmo, his face a mesh of reluctance and confusion. "I
guess that must be true."
        "Except that he's not you."
        "He isn't you. None of the alternate Cosmo's in all the alternate
universes is the Cosmo with whom I am speaking."
        "Oh yes they are!"
        Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. "Scratch your head, Cosmo." He did so. "Now
cause one of those other Cosmo's to scratch =his= head."
        "...I can't."
        "So you are not him, right?"
        "But I =was= him, before our universes split!"
        "But you aren't any more. And you have no control over any universe
except the one in which you continue to have the power to scratch you head,
        "...I suppose so."
        "So even if there =are= alternate universes, this is
useless and irrelevant to you. No?"
        "But =he= didn't spill the drink!"
        "=He= doesn't do any of the stupid, clumsy things =I= do!"
        "...Now I get it... Listen, when you do something right, would you say
that an alternate Cosmo has therefore done it wrong?"
        "So instead of concentrating on what you do wrong, why not think of
all the things you do right. You might find that he's not so special after
        "Hey," Cosmo said. "That's a pretty neat idea..."
        "Sure. If the alternate Cosmo does everything right, and the Cosmo
that has the power to scratch your head does everything wrong, then all =you=
have to do is do everything right, and =he'll= be stuck making the errors,
        Cosmo smiled for the first time. "You're right!"
        If it doesn't make any sense at all, =some=body will buy it. "Sure I
am. You just be him, and then he'll have to be you."
        "Hey!," he said. "You know, it's working already!"
        "How do you figure?"
        "=He= didn't have this conversation."
   #   #   
  # @ @ #  
 {# ( ) #} 
  | #"# |