Sunday, August 8, 2004

Reading Me

I just peered at an online column for guys on how to be romantic. Maybe I shouldn’t go there, like a peeping Thomasina, but I thought that if I knew how they functioned, maybe it would be easier for me to figure them out. Then I would cry, but that’s a whole ‘nother story. Yes, I’ve heard - men are simple beings, nothing tricky really. Making things complicated only complicates things.

So strike one on me, but I’m not changing now, and that’s a whole ‘nother story. The title was, "Use Romance Novels to Woo Her," by Jason Davis. Guess I was drawn by the use of the word "woo." Funny word in an unfunny place. If you want to sweep a woman off her feet, Mr. Davis revealed, find out what her favorite romance novel is. All women, he explained, read these trashy paperbacks, and typically reread their favorite passages over and over. Well now, this was getting amusing. Woo, woo, woo on me. I looked at my bookcase and its inhabitants – the Bible (in case Mom visits), the Book of Irish Curses (in case Dad visits), various biographies (that scream "THIS person was successful – what’s YOUR problem?"), and Shakespeare to impress the hell out of any visitors. Sorry, no romance novels here- guess I’m a failure as a woman.

But if you were to snoop in the nightstand by my bed (don’t - I have a security system and you will be prosecuted), you’d find hope. After smashing a window and disarming the dog, my imaginary beau would encounter "Holidays on Ice" by David Sedaris. And if he were dumb enough to break into my house, he’d be stupid enough to consider this a romance novel. Taking the book, he’d follow the columnist’s advice, holding the book with the spine to the table and gently letting it fall open to the most read passage. This, by the way, was the key denouement of the column. So sneaky – breaking and entering AND divining my reading passion with such a tricky trick!

I took "Holidays" and put it to the test. Not once could I get it to open to something other than the front or back cover. It would just flop over dead like a guy with a tv remote. Finally I examined the spine to see if it was perhaps tweaked to one particular page. It did indeed bend a bit on page twenty-two. I read eagerly, as if it was a fortune cookie divulging my wildest dreams, unknown even to me until now. It was the part where Sedaris works as an elf in a department store, helping Santa process all the Christmas rugrat requests. A mother places her daughter, dressed in pink lace and pigtails, on Santa’s lap. The daughter whispers giddily what she wants in Santa’s ear, but the poor man is struggling because, well, because the daughter is forty.

Things would get interesting when "Beau", as directed by the column, would emulate my alleged favorite passage by growing a grey beard and packing on an extra seventy pounds. Or maybe he’d dress in elfin garb and bring in a fat old guy for a menage-a-yuk. Put your mistletoe back in your pants, I’m not sitting on anyone’s knee. Bye-bye, Beau.

My favorite passage from a romance novel? The one I made from being a put-upon working wife to owner-operator of my own life. It’s still being written. And yes, that’s a whole ‘nother story.

Sunday, August 1, 2004

It’s Ok – He's With God

Holy hall pass - I watched the minivan careen through traffic on borrowed time. “Powered by Jesus” honked its bumper sticker. Weaving and swerving, it was all the Moses bobblehead on his dashboard could do to stay upright.

A few drivers were trying to get his attention by waving and yelling “Jesus!” at him, but to no avail. Perhaps the saintly driver was chatting on his cell phone with God. It was obvious he was in a bigger hurry than the rest of us because he was on the way to do God's work. All I knew was that if he kissed bumpers with the semi in the next lane, he would need more than Mapquest to find Saint Peter.

How would the Saints drive? St. Francis would probably be the worst. Run up a whole bunch of speeding tickets, then, just as they were going to take his license away, he would repent. God would give him his ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card, and off he’d go, all smuglike in his trendy hairshirt, rattling the keys to his Porsche like a spoiled teenager. St. John the Baptist would sport about in either an old VW bus or an economically friendly electric car, depending on how well his stir-fried grasshoppers were selling. St. Paul would have road rage issues. Mary Magdalene’s convertible would have a St. Jude medal hanging from the rearview. St. Mary would probably have a “Jesus on Board” sign in the back window. And of course, St. Christopher, patron saint of travelers, would be stuck in traffic on the 405. A few choice words of frustration and bam!- he's bumped from saint to sargeant.

It was easier, in the good ol’ holy days, to be serene. No traffic jams, spam email, or commercials. The complete lack of telephone solicitors alone would be worth at least minor sainthood. Maybe we needed a modern day St. Patrick to rid the world of phone salesmen. I would definitely vote him into the Saints’ Hall of Fame.

As the "Powered by Jesus" minivan floated through another amber light, I wondered if, for everyone's sake, the world would be a better place if the zealots had their own lane. They were obviously more important than us, destined for greatness by the sheer aura of their bumper stickers. It could be like the caste system in India, the great unwashed unwelcome, a golden halo logo stamped on the street for members only, reserved for his chosen people - the promised "holy lane."

The only issue would be when two saintly commuters collided. If both are without sin, who is at fault? Maybe the devil made them do it. Regardless, one quick trip to the confessional and, erase, erase, off they would go again, ready to share God's word with the next poor soul they bump into.