Flirting with Jesus
I must have looked a little uncertain as I approached the bar, like an outcast returning to an old religion after a long and tumultuous period of disbelief.
It’s been awhile, but the bartender welcomed me back with open arms. “What can I get you?”
I ordered a vodka and cranberry, because there’s nothing spiritual about beer. Beer doesn’t allow you to test your limits. You know exactly what you’re getting every time. You have some measure of control. With liquor you’re at the mercy of the bartender’s pour.
That’s called faith. Or carelessness. But really, what’s the difference? Believing in something despite the lack of evidence seems a little careless to me.
It occurred to me, as I handed the man my cash offering, that I ought to be flirting for drinks tonight. Something else I haven’t done in awhile.
There’s a guy in a suit behind me, boasting to his companion about how easily he’s adapting to law school and how he’s even started writing his own autobiography.
Something tells me only the brown-skinned boys are going to be attractive tonight. The ones without an overdeveloped sense of privilege. The ones who know what it’s like to be undervalued.
The girls want to go dancing, and once again I’m caught up on a momentary discomfort. Slightly intimidated at the thought of returning to a ritual that I haven’t observed in months.
I take another long swallow as we make our way to the dance floor.
The music and the vodka make their way into my bloodstream, directing my limbs and torso in sync with the rest of the believers. They have me convinced, if only for a moment, that if we stomp hard enough and call loud enough we can dance God into existence. Collectively give birth to her right there on the dance floor.
And how careless would that be? In a state of drunken delirium to bring some helpless deity into being, when more than likely none of us will be able to care for her the next morning, hung over and burnt out from hours of impassioned dancing.
All of us, a group of unlikely, deadbeat parents, arguing over whose going to feed the crying immortal we’ve created.
I noticed a thin Hispanic man dancing only a few feet away from me. It suited my purposes to imagine his name was Jesus, and I wondered what I might have to do to get his attention.
Jesus had his hands all over the girl he was dancing with, but he didn’t stay with her for long. He transitioned seamlessly from one girl to the next as each song blended into another, never giving any of them more than a moment of his time.
And then he looked at me.
He waited until the girls had gone out for a cigarette, then moved in slowly. Before I knew it Jesus had his arm around me and was telling me how beautiful I am. I remember thinking, hoping more than anything, that this man didn’t suddenly blurt out his real name to me, because I preferred to keep him as he was, . . .
A metaphor for the lack of spirituality in my life.
In the blink of an eye Jesus was gone. By the time the girls came back he was making out with some girl who was drunker, younger and easier than me.
I downed the rest of my drink, and kept right on dancing.