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20160121_185125Even the woman at the hospital’s information desk said that the parishioner I was looking for was on the eighth floor – the top floor. “Go all the way to the top,” she said as clear as day. “He’s in room 812.”

When I got into the elevator, I didn’t even need to look at the numbers on the buttons. I pressed the one at the top of all the others.

Sure enough, I arrived at the top floor. I walked down the hallway to room 812 and there he was. And what a pleasant visit we had together on the top floor. It was good to see him doing so much better, especially since only a few days prior he was quite literally near death.

20151110_111411But never mind those details. What is this button for?

I’m on the top floor. When I get into this elevator again, I know for a fact that there won’t be a button for a ninth floor. There isn’t even a card reader or a biometric device for granting access and carrying secret government agents up one more floor to a lab where the military arm of this Catholic hospital dissects alien samples.

Hold on. I’m going to ask one of the nurses if there is a ninth floor…

Nope. No ninth floor.

What is this button for, then? Does it have a purpose? Will I learn its secrets if I push it? Will the “up” arrow turn red, and when the doors open, like some strange Wonka device, will it carry me skyward to a place that doesn’t really even exist? Will I be lost in some sort of trans dimensional sphere that allows the curious in, but does not let them out?

This whole scenario sort of reminds me of my experience with the McClelland’s Speyside Single Malt. What is its purpose? Why is it here? There is no particular motive that I can seize. There seems to be no exacting objective toward which I might set my gaze.

The cork barely pops. It begins with little motivation, and it takes a strong draw to measure its first standard of worth – which is a heavily sweetened oatmeal that almost needs to be roused from sleep by constant eddying. It’s already too laborious.

But still I’m curious. What is the point of this whisky? The first sip is momentarily surprising – a very small clump of petroleum menthol rub with a slight suggestion of something fruity – maybe a ripe concord grape. A second sip delivers a nipping malt pulled along by the sugar in the nose.

All of this is gone so quickly. It leaves and I ask of the event, “Why?”

Leaving the hospital, I asked the woman at the desk if there was a ninth floor. She said no. I confirmed her confession while walking to my car. I paused to count the floors.

Eight. So why the button?