Friday, March 31, 2006


Today I was enjoying a deliciously crisp tuna melt sandwich from the diner around the corner when I started thinking about God.

"What if…" I thought.

I imagined dying and suddenly finding myself in a long line of people waiting for admission to heaven. There was no temperature, or stress, or time there. Just a line of people, all pleasantly surprised to discover that there was, in fact, a heaven, and all thankful that, at least for now, it appeared we were all getting in.

Suddenly, one of heaven’s helpers approached me with a clipboard, like the order takers at Portillo’s who come out to your car when the line for the drive thru gets too long. He was short and a little heavy, wore glasses, and was dressed in a full-length white cloak.

“Terry, right? Welcome to heaven. Would you be so kind as to remove your shoes before passing St. Peter. Thanks so much. Here’s your ID card. It has a string so you can hang it around you neck if you’d like. That's what I do," he said, tapping an ID card hanging in the middle of his chest. "There’s a steaming pot of baby back ribs boiling right now – they should be basted with barbecue sauce and sizzling on the grill the moment you step through those pearly gates. There are also people you haven't seen in awhile. Any questions?”

“Um, no…I don’t think so. You DID say this was heaven, right?”

“Of course! You seem a little surprised. I suppose everybody is at first. Except Michael Landon. He seemed right at home right away. Anyhow, you’re in luck. God himself is greeting new arrivals today, and he’s answering questions!”

“Answering questions?” I asked.

“Yeah – every now and again God likes to mingle with the fine people he invites to heaven. That’s why the line is so long today. Yesterday this time there was no wait at all. Had a party of eight check in all together. Tragic how they got here, but they're sure glad to be here now!”

“Can I just…I’m not…I'm sorry, this is all so strange. My conversations with God have always been one-way and you're telling me he's in there answering questions. What kinds of questions?”

“I'm sorry...I forget sometimes. You just died - you have no idea what's going on, do you? Everyone in line gets one question. Any question at all. It looks to me like you’ve got about ten more minutes before you’re up, so make it a good one!”

“Right. That’s, um, truly, remarkably fascinating. The last thing I remember was driving behind a garbage truck in the rain and now I’m getting answers from God.”

“Just one, my friend. Only one answer to one question. Can you imagine the line if you could ask as many questions as you wanted? It’d be like Space Mountain up here.”

“Right. Of course. It’s just that...I have no idea what I should ask him.”

“People ask questions because they want answers. If you already have all of the answers, you don't need to ask him anything.”

“Did you get to ask him a question?” I asked delicately.

“I did. I asked God if this was really heaven. Can you believe that?" He laughed. "What a waste. And since I’ve already told you that it is, you don’t have to ask him that.”

“Well, I thank you for that. Looks like the line is moving again.”

“It is – good luck, Terry. Don’t forget to remove your shoes before entering. We had new carpet put in last weekend.”

“Oh, right. I won’t. Thanks for your help.”

I was suddenly consumed by this amazing once-in-a-lifetime – once-in-an-eternity, rather – opportunity. I was going to be able to ask the Creator anything I wanted. But I only had 10 minutes to figure out what I wanted to know! My head filled with dozens of perfect questions. How would I be able to ask him only one? I needed more time!

And it was about here in my daydream that I finished eating my crispy, delicious tuna melt sandwich. I wiped my mouth, rubbed my greasy hands on my pants, and shifted my focus back to work.

But the question has been nagging me all afternoon: What WOULD I ask? Do you guys get internet service up here? What do you have against the Cubs anyway? Why do people still use chopsticks when the fork is far more efficient? Who shot John F. Kennedy? Can I drink without getting a hangover now? Who really won the 2000 election? What was the nicest thing anyone ever did for me that I didn't know about? Do we really have choices, or is the concept of free will an illusion created by our minds after the fact to make us feel like we are in control of our behavior when we're actually more predictable than ground squirrels? Can I watch a video of my life somewhere? Where did I lose my keys that one time? Did I get ripped off when I bought my car? Do you ever shave your beard or do you always wear it like that? Donde esta el bano?

What would YOU ask? You've got ten minutes to figure it out.


Snosher said...

Can I be any age or can I shift around? Or does it really even matter...........

Donkey Hoatie said...


Chicken or the egg?