Thursday, March 8, 2012
Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. I vow to no longer long for yesterday. From now on, I will long for today, or at least today, tomorrow, since it's already 4:30 p.m. today and there's not much of the day left to long for. Besides, yesterday wasn't so great. It was raining outside as well as inside my apartment, which is only acceptable if you shout “Oh my God” and George Burns appears as my super and says “Oh my me,” before making the leak in the ceiling disappear.
The most amazing thing about the movie Oh God! that came out in the late 1970's, was not the concept of God taking the form of an elderly Borscht Belt comedian in George Burns, or speaking to a man in his shower; or even the fact that the one man God chose to speak to had a milk toast personality like John Denver. The most unbelievable part of the film Oh God! is that John Denver's character, an assistant produce manager at a supermarket, had a wife that was a stay-at-home mom and was able to buy a house on his salary and raise two kids in the suburbs. Today an assistant produce manager at a super market would only live that classic middle class lifestyle if his wife stayed at home and pleasured herself with pickles on a Web site called Porn Grub.
Part of Denver’s likeability was that his image was that of a flesh and blood Kermit the Frog, except John Denver swore less and lacked Kermit’s innate sexual magnetism. Both Debbie Harry and Kylie Minogue once overtly felt up Kermit’s felt while singing the Rainbow Connection with him. The closest John Denver ever got to having sexual chemistry with a female performer on stage was when he asked Dolly Parton if she had ever seen the Rocky Mountains up close and she said “Every time I look in the mirror.”
After watching the movie Oh God! the night the storm caused the leak in my ceiling, I had what could be considered a vision or to the less romantically inclined, it could be perceived as just a day dream. God appeared to me in my apartment in the form of George Burns, except he was wearing a hard hat and holding a plunger. My super wears a hard hat 24/7, which makes me wonder if he knows something about my walk-up apartment building that I don’t know, like should I be looking up at the ceiling while walking up it.
I offered him a glass of water since he sort of resembled my 90-year old neighbor. This man spends ten minutes walking up the steps every day and reminds me that I don’t want to become the old guy who lives in the walk-up building who reminds everyone that this can be the best city to be young in and the worst to be old in.
He asked me if I had any Sanka and then told me how he used to love Sanka and that he did not understand the rise of Starbucks. “Why would so many people spend hours sitting in a coffee shop staring at laptops? I wouldn't leave those things on your lap too long. It can’t be good for you. You might need your lap one day to make little Finkles,” said God.
“Wait a minute, do these things lead to tumors, “I said frantically. What about cell phones? I knew it! I knew it!” I say as I bopped my head back and forth and gave an unintentional Seinfeld “Newman” face. “Smart phones my ass. “ Oh shit, sorry God. Oh sorry. Shit.”
“Tumors, I don’t know from” God said, while chuckling.” Relax. I think you’ll be alright. I was joking. You more than anyone should know not to take things so seriously all the time. It’s one of your best qualities. That’s why I’m here.” “Thanks God,” I replied in my best Leave it to Beaver voice, smiling like the boy in Animal House as the scantily clad woman landed through his window. “Look, he said with a serene grin, I created the world and everything that lives on it. I’m God, not Steve Jobs; he quipped in a Bob Hope cadence.”
“Of course” I said, still smiling. “So, how’s he doing anyway?” A cigar appeared in his hand and he took a puff, blowing out a perfect ring of smoke that quickly dissipated and said “He’s a little frustrated. You see there’s no “i” in Heaven.” But, I can’t really get into the whole afterlife thing. Your brain can’t comprehend it.” “Gotcha,” I said. So, we’re not supposed to dwell on life after death.” “That’s right. The afterlife and algebra are two things you don’t need to worry about in life, said God with perfect timing.“
“You know God, unfortunately, I’m one of those poor schlubs staring at a screen at coffee shops. I go there to get out of the apartment and write. Of course this is In between looking for writing jobs, reading articles on sports and posting my random observations on Facebook to people I have randomly known throughout my life.” I fidgeted nervously as I talked and sounded like I was doing a bad Woody Allen impression.
“Facebook,” God said, while tisking like my grandmother used to. If you’re going to waste time during the day, at least do it outside. People need to take their face, grab a book and check out some of the beautiful land left in the world. I believe you call them parks. I gave you the Earth in all of its splendor as a blank canvas. Then you built cities, buildings, homes, strip malls, cemeteries and golf courses and left some of the land as parks. Fine, that’s you developing your civilization. I get that. At least get out of the cities every once in a while and walk barefoot on a beach or gaze up at a mountain. How often do you go to Central Park?” God asked me. “Not ah, not often enough,” I responded while shrugging my shoulders and looking down. I mean I live in the East 30's and you know I have to take the 6 train up and I try and avoid the subway on the weekends.”
“I don’t know if you know this, but it’s sort of centrally located in Manhattan, hence the name.” That’s why I gave you feet instead of an extra set of hands attached to your legs. You should branch out of your comfort zone once in a while. Don’t be such a putz. Moses had to wander the desert for forty years you know,” God said casually while making a cup of Sanka appear.
He then sat in one of my Chinese restaurant chairs in the living room as it turned into a comfy looking old-fashioned chair closely resembling the one Archie Bunker used to sit in. My apartment suddenly had this familiar childhood smell that I quickly recognized as the hallway on the floor of my grandparent’s old apartment in Fort Lee. This put me more at ease with the fact that this holy creator, this mensch of an all-mighty, just called me a schmuck.
“True. But, Moses never had to deal with being crammed into a subway car filled with stressed-out looking people. And then there are the guys who occasionally sing out random lyrics from songs because they think wearing ear buds gives them the right to share their musical taste with the general public while riding beneath the surface of the city. It’s like, I can hear your iPhone, you don’t have to sing out loud. You’re not in the shower buddy. We’re riding in the subway after a long day of talking to, emailing and collaborating with people who are for the most part idiots. And don’t get me started on the senior citizens arguing with the driver on the bus because they don’t like or understand the new express buses even though they were instituted like a year ago. This actually might be the best thing that ever happened to this city. I never understood why a bus would have to stop every other street, when a subway doesn’t. I mean people can walk a few blocks to their office or apartment if a bus goes ten blocks without a stop. It saves so much time, and ooh you know what I do like; when I see people who are talented singers singing in the subway platform because it’s usually something mellow like Motown and it always puts a smile on my face. And I’m totally rambling and you’re God and I should stop talking now because I sound like a moron and I’m using words like totally when talking to you as if I’m a teenager in the 80's.”
God laughed, which I noticed had an amazing, soothing effect on me. “You see, that is exactly what I’m talking about and this is why I chose you. Not because you’re a politician or a talk show host or are running a social networking site, waiting for it to go public.” “So, you think there should be more express buses and guys singing 70's soul music in subway platforms?, I said.” “No, I like how you get excited over little things. I’m not asking you to cure the sick or home the homeless, that’s for men much smarter than you, God quipped.” “Thanks,” I say while chuckling. “You know, I kind of like that you’re messing with me.”
“Well, only a little bit. Look, humans need humor in the world to deal with the pain and the disappointments that happens in between all the joy. I just want people to take in the beauty of life more. Not just the serenity of a forest or the ocean, or the sublime calm in the middle of the storm of the city, that is Central Park. But, the little things in life; like the way the right song at the right time of day can fit your mood perfectly and work like humor to make you forgot whatever it was you were stressing about at that moment."
"I gave you senses for a reason and some respond more to the taste of chocolate cake; for others it’s the feeling after an exercise workout that gives them pleasure. For you, I’d say it’s the sight of the curve of a woman’s hip as she’s lying in bed that has made you thank me more than anything else,” God said.
“That’s some of your best work, by the way, I said while grinning (I want to high five him but wisely decide not to. You don’t want to be left hanging by God.)
“I know, the hip bone was a thing of beauty, God boasted. It’s subtle, yet sublime. Men really seem to love it. It’s one of the main reasons why there’s so many of you. And I highly recommend the sight of seeing your child learn something, anything for the first time. Between me and you, it’s the only thing that can give you a minuscule glimpse of what it is like to be me.” All of these things can be appreciated more but let’s start with appreciating nature. I want you to write about that in your blog.”
“See that’s the thing. I’m not a parent. I’m not even in a relationship with someone. I’m forty (long pause) one and I’m currently a freelance writer, which really means I’m not employed full time anywhere. My guy friends are all married and I live with a cool lesbian and a dog and it’s her dog by the way. I have woken up more mornings in bed lying next to that dog than I ever have with a woman. And my blog, I have nine followers, three of which are the same friend of mine using different names and four of which are people who stumbled upon it because they thought it was a Jews-for-Jesus site. These are not the things that appeal to the average Jewish woman in today’s society.”(I paused to catch my breath.) What’s the deal with the Jews-for-Jesus people anyway?”
“I have no clue. They’re much more off-track in life than you, but that’s a whole other conversation. Look, I’m God; I’m not your therapist. So, you've taken the long way to get where you want to be and your journey obviously isn't over. Your present doesn't have to be your future. You have the face of a kid for My sake and you’re in great shape. Stop worrying and keep doing what you do best. And I got your "Some Kind of Wonderful” movie reference by the way and I agree that it was better than “Pretty in Pink.” So, to put it in a way that you can relate to, if you write it, they will come.”
As he says this all of a sudden God morphed into a Jamaican man of indeterminate age with a mustache and a hard hat on and the Archie Bunker chair turned back into my old Chinese restaurant chair. “Jeff, Hello. Hello. I said, I’m going to come back tomorrow morning and fix the ceiling, so someone has to be here to let me in.” “Ok God,” I mutter.” “What, it’s Ahmad. Lay off the crack buddy," he says before laughing.
Ahmad, the super, got up to leave and as he walked out the door I noticed him bending down to pick up a bottle someone in the building had left on a step. The sight of him scratching his own crack made me hold in a laugh that I let out as soon as I closed the door. We can find humor in the ugliest places and sometimes you can find God inside your own head. My God happens to enjoy pointing out how much room there is in there but that’s because he doesn't want mine getting bigger than his. What can I say, he’s a funny guy.