It was Brett who first noticed the woman walking down the other side of the street with her hand raised in the air.
“Keep Toronto weird,” Brett said to his friend Marty.
Marty laughed. “Why do you think she’s doing that?”
“How should I know? Maybe she’s airing out her armpits one at a time,” replied Brett.
Marty raised an eyebrow. “I’m gonna find out.”
“Stop. Wait.” Brett reached out to stop him, but wasn’t quick enough.
Marty walked with purpose toward the woman. She noticed him and stopped.
“Excuse me,” said Marty. “I couldn’t help notice your hand. Is everything okay?”
The woman looked at Marty with weary eyes. “In school I was taught to raise my hand if I had a question, but nobody calls on you in the real world.”
“Do you have a question?” asked Marty.
“What is it?”
“Why?” asked the woman.
“Is that your question or are you wondering if I really want to hear it?” asked Marty.
“No, that’s my question. Why? Most people tell me the answer is ‘because’, but that not a real answer, is it?”
Marty thought for a second. “Why not?”
The woman looked at him quizzically. “Is that your answer or are you asking why ‘because’ isn’t a real answer?”
“It’s the answer to your question,” declared Marty.
“I’m not sure that’s any better than ‘because’.”
“Sure it is. If there’s no ‘why not’, then there’s nothing. ‘Why not’ means there is something, regardless of what it is. I think in life, something is always better than nothing,” explained Marty.
The woman’s face lit up. “That makes sense.”
“It does?” asked Brett.
“It makes perfect sense. You’re a wise man. A guru. Thank you,” said the woman. She walked away mumbling joyfully to herself, Marty and Brett staring at her in wonder.
“I don’t think you should do things like that anymore,” said Brett.
“Do what?” asked Marty.
“Answer questions for random people on the street.”
“Why not?” asked Marty.
“Because,” said Brett, “I think that’s how cults get started.”