We have just arrived and taken a spot near the door. Outside, cold rain falls on busy and dark Belltown. This is Some Random Bar, right next to Black Bottle, and it is small, simple, and altogether comfortable. After surprising us with a complimentary plate of chocolate-coated bacon (it's free at happy hour), the waitress does something that's not unusual: She asks if we need more time to select food and drinks. I quickly look at the drink menu, find a bunch of "random cocktails," and decide not to change my ways: "Your house white wine." A moment later, I'm served an oaky sauvignon blanc, which actually goes well with the chocolate bacon. The stereo is playing indie rock from the late '80s and '90s. A handsome woman in a red dress sits at the bar with someone she clearly wants to fuck. The french fries, which appear during my second glass of wine, are crispy.

Randomness is not my thing. I love order, stability, and the predictable motions of the planets in our solar system. I love the words inscribed on Immanuel Kant's tombstone: "The starry heavens above me and the moral law within me." (Those stars are not wandering, but steady and obedient to the laws of gravity.) I also love mirrors, many of which hang on the south wall of Some Random Bar. Some of the mirrors are plain; others are fancy and almost magical. When I take a sip from my third glass of wine, my mind suddenly slides all the way back to the distant day when I first noticed my real self in a mirror. This happened around 1978, in the bathroom of an apartment in Washington, DC. I was 9, and I had just finished brushing my teeth and looked up at the mirror, and instead of me, found an animal. I saw that its eyes had evolved to make sense of light, its teeth had evolved to break food down into digestible matter, its nose had evolved to capture interesting molecules floating through the air. This was not Charles, the son of Ebenezer and Tracy. This was just a living, breathing, heartbeating thing in a universe that has no purpose, no designer, no beginning or end. recommended