“Understood. Okay, so there’s this guy – his name is Moishe and he’s with a group of friends. They’re all young with a plan for their own Utopia. Like the hippies and their communes. They set up camp one night, get into some henbane one of them had picked up from a Greek dude.”
My cell started to ring and he stopped while I answered.
Apparently, my number had been chosen for the 5th time in two days by various hotel chains for something special; all I needed to do was press 1. I hung up, turned off the ring and stuffed my phone back in my pocket.
“Okay, so tell me about this Moishe guy and his buddies getting high..”
“Moishe and his friends are doin’ the ‘bane and suddenly, they have all the answers to the world’s conundrums. Hey, you get high and suddenly, you’re god or you can do a better job than god. That’s what the boys decided. They were going to create the perfect society. No one would be poor, no one would be rich. Everyone would be on the same social rung. They tossed around the anarchy concept and decided that wouldn’t work. Every society, every group has that ONE GUY/GIRL that can’t get with the program. So, they start pitching rules off each other. This goes on for a while and you’ll identify with this…Moise had to take a whiz. He was high but not rude and walked away from the fire pit and his socio-political bull session. As luck would have it, he starts peaking – has a helluva time not pee’ing on his sandals. He figures it will work better if he sits down. Things go downhill from there or uphill, depending on your point of view, I guess. The rocks start breathing and then a shrub starts to turn colour. It talks to him. Well, poor Moishe is totally freaked. He’s too scared to move. What he doesn’t know is that the voices of his buddies are pretty clear from his vantage point but he’s so high, he figures the talking is coming from the bush.”
A couple of his friends are getting into it: Who do you think you are? God?!
“No but, I’m right!”
“Oh sure, Gaon!”
“I’m not Gaon – I am simply offering my opinion.”
“Bull, you’re just threatened by my fire. I’m just me. I just am!”
“Well, Moishe heard fire. He heard “I am” and he heard the rules being bandied around. He thought some of them were cool enough to write down. He was also one of the only guys who was able to actually read and write. He found a rock and started to scribble the stuff down. The arguments were still going on and at this point, someone had brought out the wine skins. Some of the guys were fed up with the philosophy of man discussions and a few instruments were brought out. Before long it was a good old fashioned Bacchanalia, minus the women. Moishe is heading back to camp at this point. He was starting to come down. As he was making his way in the dark; his foot caught on a root and he went flying. Landing face first at the outer part of the fire pit ring. The rock he had written on smashed, when it made contact with another, tougher rock. The problem with henbane is that when it wears off; you are far worse for the wear, yourself. His head was pounding and his was nauseous. He wanted to get his ideas out and there they were, in shards on the ground. He threw a bit of fit and it killed the buzz. Moishe was a bit of a bully. He tells everyone to shut up and he proceeds to tell them about the bush, the conversation he had with the bush and his opinion that the bush was god in disguise. Well, his friends were divided into two camps; the gullible group and the ones who were sober enough to know that Moishe was talking through the henbane. There was split. Moishe’s group gathered up his stupid pieces of rock and went off with Moishe. The other group went off and no one is sure what happened to them. Some say they headed toward Qumran and started a school. No one knows for sure. Moishe’s group, on the other hand, wandered off, got caught up in the desert, tried to establish their commune in a few places and finally, ended up by the River Jordan. Moishe died but his legend lived on and gained mythical proportions.”
“Come on, I went to Sunday school – you’re telling me that Moses received the 10 commandments because he was high?”
“Pfff..yeah, essentially. What do you care? You don’t believe in the bible or god anyway. Makes a much better story than the one they told you, doesn’t it? Tell me it doesn’t make more sense.”
What he said was true enough; I’ve been high so, yes, his rendition made infinitely more sense. But this whole thing, this guy, the conversation was really doing a number on me. I couldn’t figure any of this out. I just wanted to get away at this point. I wasn’t in the mood for a religious debate or conversation. I wanted to get home and watch Criminal Minds or People’s Court. I didn’t want to think or delve deep into my religious psyche or what was left of it. I decided the guy deserved some honesty on my part…
“Eli, I enjoyed the conversation but really? If you think that you can convince me that there is a god or that the bible is based on fact? You are barking up the wrong tree. The fact is, I don’t believe in god, I don’t believe in Jesus and you best believe I DON’T believe in some guy named Moishe or Moses. I think we need to call this a day. Like I said, I’ll walk you to the bus stop or your vehicle if you have one but enough is enough.”
He looked at me with his blue or green or brown eyes…damn, I really need to get new glasses…and just grinned at me again. Man, he was getting really annoying.
“Seriously, Eli. I’ve had it now. Let’s both move on, okay?”
“I’m not trying to convince you of anything. I offer up potentials. What may have happened. Okay, so you don’t believe in god. You believe all of this was some slap-happy accident. An amoeba got curious and went off to the races. What if that’s not how it happened either? What if there is another explanation, that incorporates both theories but got perverted by men and their need to be on top? What if the bible is sort-of right and the scientists are sort-of right? What if Jung was on the scent?”
“Eli, for chrissake! I am not going to get into a discussion about religion and Jung with you. My beliefs are my business. Not yours!” I was pissed now. I got up. So did he. And he was pissed. So there we were, standing by the lakeshore, blue heron watching the crazy humans or human, depending on what Eli believed himself to be, about to go at it.
“You’re the one who’s been asking all these damn questions. I offer to give you a few clues and you turn into a bitch on wheels. Do you want the clues or not? Do you want to keep asking questions because you feel real safe knowing that no one will be able to answer ’em for you?!
I swear, his voice sounded like thunder, he was so mad. The heron must have thought so as well; he called his duck friends and they all took off. I could feel the anger off the guy and I’m thinking I’m in deep shit now. I did a scan of the ground to make sure that there was nothing in the vicinity that could be used to hasten my discovery of heaven or hell, as the case may be. He was that mad. I was that nervous.
“Here are your answers and you want to go watch some trailer trash argue whose dog bit whom? Whose bitch slashed whose tires? Listen up, then you can go – go watch your shows. You are being given a chance that goddam few people are offered and you throw it back at me. You ain’t the first and let me tell you, no one before you has fared well, so take that as a warning.”
I figured discretion was, definitely, the better part of valour at this juncture in time…Momma didn’t raise any fools.
“Okay. I’m listening, I apologize if I seem rude but put yourself in my shoes. I’m in a public place, minding my own business, just chilling and along comes so guy that I don’t know but says he knows me. Plunks himself down and starts on a whole religious crusade. This would put anyone on their guard, pal but I am willing to give you a few more minutes but then, this conversation comes to an end unless you tell me who you are, when we met and how you know my name. I think that’s fair.”
Suddenly, he was back to Grateful Dead dude. Like a light switch turning off. And I’m thinking bi-polar au but.
“Fair enough. I have known you since you were a baby. You used to visit me and we’d talk…then, you grew up and you didn’t have time for me anymore. I am….