In Which I Embrace The Saying..."If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em"
Where I come from, religious affiliation is a very personal issue and not one that people broadcast at every opportunity. Which is why, after 20 years in the South, I still cringe when someone slips a little halle-LU-jah or Praise JeZUS into completely random conversations.
Conversant #1: "Wow, this potato salad is amazing! I finally persuaded Mary to give me the recipe."
Conversant #2: "Praise JeZUS!"
See what I mean?
Any and all such pronouncements bug the living snot out of me, but the one that really makes me want to bitch slap somebody is "Have a blessed day!"
The cashier at the grocery store said it to me this morning, and I reacted the way I always do. First, I blinked furiously, trying to process. Then I felt the smile on my lips freeze into a maniacal rictus. Then I bit my tongue to resist the urge to say something like...
"I'm really looking forward to roasting over the fires of hell, but I appreciate the sentiment."
Now, rationally, I understand that when somebody says "Have a blessed day!" they are simply trying to be kind. But part of me can't help thinking that it's also a fairly effortless way to hedge one's bets when it comes to the pre-judgement tally at the pearly gates.
I imagine St. Peter and his long suffering assistant standing at the head of a long line of the wretched and the damned, trying to decide who gets in and who has to kiss Satan's ass for the rest of eternity.
St Peter: Next.
Long Suffering Assistant: Let'sssssss seeeeeee. Oh yes. (clears throat) Candy Ann Spellman, 38, single, no children. Christian. Cashier at Kroger. Hobbies include scrapbooking and wet t-shirt contests. Killed in an MVA, attempting to flee the scene of a thwarted armed robbery.
St. Peter (raising eyebrows): Joel....what do we say about Christianity??
Long Suffering Assistant: One must walk the walk, Sir.
St. Peter: Exactly! Send her packing.
Long Suffering Assistant: Um, with all due respect Sir, it says here that she exhorted some 4,786,592 persons to "Have a blessed day".
St. Peter: What of it?
Long Suffering Assistant: Sir, I believe you are aware that such a dedicated display of pointless religious promulgation is grounds for a declaration of zealotism and as such, negates any and all prior transgressions as they pertain to eternal damnation.
St. Peter: Poppycock!!
Long Suffering Assisant (patiently): I assure you Sir, it is not Poppycock. Why else would Rex Humbard be here?
St. Peter: Shit.
Long Suffering Assistant: Indeed Sir.
St. Peter: We have got to do something about that loophole. Remind to speak to big G about that.
Long Suffering Assistant (scribbling): Noted, Sir.
St. Peter (sighing): Alright then. Let her through. A loophole is a loophole. What size halo?
Long Suffering Assistant (checking his notes): Ahhhhh, size 10, extra pious.
St. Peter (thunderously): Extra Pious! I think not! She'll get a size 10 semi devout and LIKE IT!
Long Suffering Assistant: Whatever you say Sir.
St Peter: Next.
Long Suffering Assistant: Yes sir. Next we have Alice Ghostly, 81. Widowed. Mother of 7. Agnostic. Character actress and stage performer. Cause of death...
St. Peter: She's in.
Long Suffering Assistant: But I haven't finished yet.
St. Peter: She's in, I say,.
Long Suffering Assistant: But Sir....
St. Peter: Big G wouldn't approve..even pretend witchcraft is a sin. But dammit, I like her. That Esmerelda, always in trouble. She had spunk! SIGH. They just don't make quality television anymore.
Long Suffering Assistant (dryly): Yes Sir. She certainly was a hoot, Sir.
St. Peter: She's in.
Long Suffering Assisant: Of course, Sir.
So...I dunno. I'll admit I'm a little touchy when it comes to such things. But, really...what's so wrong with plain ole "Have a nice day?"
It doesn't offend anybody. It doesn't exclude anybody. It isn't pretentious, self-righteous or contrived. It your standard all purpose social nicety, n'est pas?
Oh I know, I know...we have this weird need to customize every little colloqualism, aphorism and slogan to our own personal designations. I have no idea why. I suppose it's the American propensity for self aggrandizement and egocentricism.
Well, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
So to all of you out there in the blogosphere, I say....
"Have a spiritually ambiguous day!"
(Originally posted 10/02/07. Yep. Still painting.)