Every year around this time Ash Wednesday takes me by surprise, when I walk up to somebody at work and go, “You have some schmutz on your face,” and I try to wipe the ashes off their face with my shirt sleeve, thereby almost compromising their religious beliefs. Just before my sleeve makes contact with their forehead, I notice that the schmutz is in the shape of a cross, and I think WOW: what did this guy stick his face into that resulted in a perfect ash-cross?? This minor holiday, of course, signifies Jesus’ inability to locate an ashtray. It is considered a “moveable fast,” meaning that alternate-side-of-the-street rules may be in effect.
In the NFL, players are now sporting plastic stick-on “lampblack,” those ashes that they put underneath their eyes to avoid the harsh glare of public opinion following their DWI or handgun arrest. I was wondering how long it will take for someone to come up with stick-on Ash Wednesday ashes. Let’s face it: if you live in the City, what are you going to have to go through to get your hands on some ashes when the nonfunctioning fireplace in your apartment is a planter, and even the planter doesn’t work that great? I fantasize about what had to lose its life to become that black cross on somebody’s face: a hastily burned Valentine’s Day card from your mistress? An evidentiary stack of documents implicating you in insider trading? Part of one of my Mom’s potroasts?
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, when Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days. They make Jesus look like a big hero for fasting- it’s not like there is a food court in the desert by the way. If you’re lucky you might find a cactus or something, and you can squeeze some moisture out of it if you can endure more pricks than a Hummer showroom. You can pinch off the rear end of a scorpion and pop it right in your mouth; it tastes like a poisonous chicken. Saw it on “Man vs. Wild,” where the guy can remove the ass of just about anything and eat it. I can’t even remove the packaging from a candy bar.
Nowadays, since Americans don’t want to give up being fat, you can symbolically fast by giving up something that you really love during Lent, such as “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” since it’s in repeats anyway, or Brussels sprouts. Many people give up alcohol, and by extension, sleeping with ugly girls, aiding & abetting, passing out on golf courses, jumping naked into the Trevi Fountain and hitting on their mother-in-law.
Like most of the stuff in the Bible, it’s probably meant to be taken figuratively, but people are always stupid enough to plunge right in. It’s a lot of tall tales that got stretched WAY out of proportion as one person tells another, and before you know it, it’s a friggin’ miracle. A guy does a perfect can-opener from the high-diving board, and all of a sudden it’s the parting of the Red Sea. You’re on vacation and the weather sucks, you’re stuck in your hotel room for what seems like 40 days and 40 nights, even though you were only there a week.
What an idea to think that you could line up animals two-by-two on an ark and think that they are even going to get along, much less repopulate the Earth. I have two cats that haven’t stopped beating on each other since the day they were whelped, if cats are even whelped. Walking up the gangplank 40 days worth of animals bickering and carping begins… Is it my imagination or does everything in the Bible take 40 days? Nothing really gets done in a great hurry.
What would happen if Jesus lived in our time? Would the Bible ever be written? No, because the truth would be out there on video. There is Cain loitering around wearing a red Yankees cap. The video is grainy but you can tell it is him. You don’t see the actual smiting on the video but you can see Cain fleeing, and it looks like he has just smoten somebody. And for god’s sake don’t wear a RED Yankees cap- if you want to wear red move to Boston.
Video is everywhere, waiting to rat you out. God forbid Jesus should have some cellulite on the beach, the next day it’s all over the tabloids. “Jesus & Judas show up at the Last Supper in the same toga! See who wore it better!”
I read that they are soon going to require video cameras installed on the back of all cars. That way, you can find out if where you just were was as boring as you thought it was.
All the prophets and disciples are watching their every move, lest they be crucified in the Twitter-sphere. The Twitter-sphere has more helium than oxygen, which explains why the thinking there is so addled. And of course, Fox News putting a nefarious spin on every move Jesus makes. “Today Jesus turned water into wine, throwing a temporary monkey-wrench into the Alcoholics Anonymous fund-raising car wash. A spokesperson for Jesus did not return our calls.”
Incidentally, in Ireland, National No Smoking Day is on Ash Wednesday. So when you snuff out your last cigarette on Fat Tuesday evening, you can snuff it out right on your forehead. I read that you are actually supposed to use the ashes from palms that you burnt the week before. How they knew that I burnt my palms the week before I'll never know, and THEY will never know how I burnt them- that's my little secret. The Bible says you're also supposed to wear sackcloth, but you're going to have to buy a hell of a lot of whatever is in that sack to get one in your size- try Costco. Ash Wednesday follows the last day of Mardi Gras,
famously celebrated in New Orleans. I haven’t seen anything in the Bible about flashing your tits for plastic beads, but I haven’t finished it yet.