Tea With Freud and Einstein

You know how it is when someone famous moves into the neighborhood. Most people leave them alone. A few hound them for autographs. But even the ones who leave them alone still like to tell stories about them at family gatherings, which always indicate a familiarity that goes beyond the actual nodding of heads. “By the way, I ran into X again the other day.” And if someone equally famous moves into the neighborhood, locals whisper over fences, stop each other in supermarket aisles to chatter. For everyone assumes that fame is a kind of ethnic group, and that two famous people will behave the same way as, let us say, the only two Jews at a very large party. Yes, people assume that however different its source might be, simply being famous is enough to make two people want to meet and befriend each other. And it’s just exactly the same in heaven.
After his orientation and rehabilitation Sigmund Freud moved to a quiet little neighborhood in first heaven where he could continue his studies of human nature. He was delighted by the opportunities for insight and observation that the dead have access to, and was well on the way toward understanding several personality disorders that had eluded him in life. He had in fact come round so far as to be in near agreement with Jung about the nature of the collective unconscious, although in a moment of humor less rare in heaven than down here, he had taken to calling it the Super Dooper Ego, instead.
Freud’s angelic housekeeper Magda was devoted to him and made sure that everyone in the village was polite to him but did not interfere with his work. Fortunately for her the dead are far more able to entertain themselves than the living, and have far
more things to do that keep them busy and out of other people’s business. So Dr. Freud was for the most part left with nods and smiles, even when he sat for tea each afternoon in town at his favorite restaurant, the Golden Phoenix.
Things went on that way for quite some time, with Freud finishing three major books and beginning work on a fourth one, when electrifying news came to town – that Albert Einstein, recently dead and just out of rehab, was planning to move to, of all places, their own little village!
Everyone was talking about it. Not wanting him to hear it from anyone else, not even from his family, who were all living in different locations, it was Magda at dinner who told Freud the news. How curious of her to have been anxious, you might be thinking. But psychiatrist or not, even the dead have feelings. And having been for almost two decades the most famous resident of their little village, Magda felt rightly protective of Dr. Freud. For there they were, the two most famous Jewish men of their century, about to become neighbors.
Now Freud and Einstein had met briefly when they were still on Earth, during the period of upheaval in Germany, and they had exchanged a series of letters on the topic of advancing world peace. But at the time, and afterwards, the general sentiment was that the two had not quite hit it off. But that didn’t stop their neighbors in heaven from speculating, from assuming, from projecting, and imagining.
The first day Einstein appeared in town with his guiding angel Appoline, everyone was polite. People bowed and smiled and offered him welcome. But just as with Freud, there was a slight edge to their feelings. For what do you say to a genius, even one as amiable as Freud had been aloof? For Einstein was charming, not nearly as absent
minded in death as he had been in life. And, quite aware that in heaven all the dead are equal, he was almost relieved to be out of the spotlight. Or so he thought. Behind his back, the town, in fact all of heaven, was in a state of exalted gossip. What would happen when the two met? Would they hit it off? Or would they become, well not enemies, for there aren’t any enemies in heaven, but would they become, shall I say, peaceful co-existers in the same small celestial town?
Oddly, for weeks their paths never crossed. Albert was still getting used to being dead, beginning to make plans, and Sigmund, remembering how awkward that time is, did not want to interfere. So the town kept watch. People ate out and went shopping more than ever, hoping to be there when the two ran into each other again for the first time. Sadly for them, it was Einstein who took care of all of that, circumventing a public extravaganza by sending Freud a z-mail that said, “Had I been able to take it with me, I owned a curious Chinese goddess I would have liked your opinion on.” Einstein knew that Freud had a deep and abiding interest in antiquities. Dr. Freud immediately z-mailed him back, thanking him and inviting him for coffee anyway.
Magda, with her usual genius for these things, set out a simple, elegant meal in Freud’s study that satisfied both men. They chatted amiably, filling each other in on the events that had transpired since the last time they’d been in contact, talking about people they knew in common, and sharing observations on events that had happened back on Earth, both before and after their respective deaths. From time to time Magda would pop in to refill the teapot. Later, the two great doctors of different arts took a stroll in the garden. Madeline Kantor, Freud’s next door neighbor, sitting by an open window in her sewing room, could see the two wandering through the roses, and imagined that they
were calling each other Siggi and Al, and sharing the marvels of absolute fame that so allude the great mass of mortals down on Earth.
The town was all abuzz, and Madeline and Roxanne her maid added their little observations to the mix. And when the following week Dr. Einstein came back for another visit, and the week after that, neighbors in every quarter were talking about it. Roxanne informed the other maids in town that the two were no longer strolling in the garden, and – speculation ran wild! What could the two be up to, two such famous men? Over tea and cocoa, over coffee and cake, in cafes and offices, in every single household in first heaven, people were trying to guess. “They’re figuring out a way to end war.” “They’re working on a cure for cancer.” “They’re experimenting with ways to hasten the departure of the messiah for the physical world.” Those were the most wildly held opinions, as the visits became weekly, and continued, month after month. And when the two great geniuses met in town and stopped to chat for a moment, or waved across the room when they saw each other eating at the Golden Phoenix, their neighbors felt teased, felt certain they were deliberately keeping their mission a secret.
Alas, for the curious citizens of that cozy garden village. Had any of them asked the good doctors in the street, or been bold enough to ask Madga, Dr. Freud’s housekeeper, she herself would have told them the truth. After their first cordial visit, the two shook hands and agreed without discussing it, that they had no more in common in heaven than they’d had on Earth, and were happy to carry on their business separately. But being curious about the work and the heavenly observations of the ministering angels, it is Magda and not Dr. Freud that Albert Einstein comes to have tea with every
week. She’s been teaching him celestial astronomy, tutoring him in twelfth dimensional physics, and coaching him on the essence of Grand Unification.