We’ve all seen the stickers and buttons–What Would Jesus Do? Two semi-related personal anecdotes.
Guy comes in my store about two years ago. He turns to me and says, “Dude, where’s Jesus?” Now, I’m the only other person in the store, and I’m an atheist, so I look at him and say, “Excuse me?”
“Jesus. You know, Jesus.”
“No, I don’t know. Enlighten me.” My thinking at this point is this a kid who feels some personal need to proselytize to the masses, and his way of finding the masses is to go down to the local shopping mall and harass store employees since they can’t run and hide.
However, he surprises me.
“Jesus. High school kid, about this tall” he indicates someone about five-five “and he wears glasses.”
“Jesus,” I say, pondering. A possibility crystallizes. “You wouldn’t happen to mean Lennon, would you?”
“Lennon?” he asks.
“Yeah, kid who looks like John Lennon, circa Abbey Road. Long hair, ragged beard, granny glasses.”
“Uhm, maybe.” He pauses and looks at me. “You call him Lennon?”
“I don’t know if we’re even talking about the same person.”
Conversation ends when Jesus walks in the store. Jesus and Lennon were the same person; he happened to shop my store a lot. Correction: he spent time in my store, not money. Nice kid, but he never knew why I’d nicknamed him Lennon; he didn’t know the Beatles. Bastard.
There’s a Christian book store in my shopping center, and there’s a really cute redhead that works there. Now that I’m single again the dating urge sometimes takes hold, and the redhead is rather cute.
I don’t have any real reason to go in the store, except to try and strike up a conversation with her. So, one day I walk in the store, browse around the shelves, picking up books at random, without any clearly defined goal, thinking that maybe if I look like I’m lost then perhaps someone might notice, someone like the cute redhead, and ask if I needed any help.
Okay, this is not a great plan. This is not even a good plan. I can say this with great humor in retrospect.
If there’s a plus to what I’m about to say, it is that the conversation I’m about to describe did not involve the redhead.
So, I’m browsing one of the aisles. It might have been the fiction aisle, and I’m picking up random titles, flipping through them, and then putting them back. Okay, this is no different than my behavior at Barnes & Noble, but at least there I’m browsing for books that I have a vague interest in. Nothing I touch interests me in the slightest, and I think I must have been making odd facial expressions.
Sales associate walks up. I won’t describe her, except to say that I ran into her on my dinner break this evening in a Japanese express place, and she didn’t/couldn’t/wouldn’t make eye contact.
Anyway, she asks me, “You look a little lost. Is there something you’re looking for?”
“Yes,” I said, quickly and without thought, “I am lost. I’m sort of browsing, but I don’t know for what.”
She then mentions all the really wonderful things they carry, from Bibles to church robes, to the latest in Christian music, to children’s toys, and I can’t say I particularly care, but she’s on a roll, so why stop her.
She finishes, so I say, “Man, and to think I thought you guys were just like the religion section of Barnes & Noble, just blown up bigger. Y’know, without the coffee bar and the open-mic poetry night.”
She gives me a look that says, “Have you lost your mind?” I can see it in her eyes as she goes silent. She takes a beat or two, then says, “Is there a particular book you’re looking for?”
Deciding it’s best to cut the conversation short and prevent further embarrassment, I give a shake of my head, and say, “No, just looking for something a friend recommended, but I’ll be damned if I can remember what it was.”
She nods, and starts to back away, to do something else.
Okay, a rational and sane person would have left this alone. But the person who bashed his head into the floor of the ballroom at Shore Leave last year is neither sane nor rational.
“Wait,” I said, “do you carry those little statuettes of Jesus? I’ve seen them on people’s desks, and I’ve always wondered where to find them.”
She smiles, probably thinking she’s not talking with a crazy person after all. “Right over here,” she says, and she walks me over to a corner of the store. She starts pointing out various styles–Jesus sitting, Jesus praying, Jesus standing tall, Jesus on the cross, Jesus this, Jesus that–and I nod my head. “Thanks,” I said. “I’m really looking for the Buddy Jesus, but I don’t see it here.”
“The Buddy Jesus?”
I suddenly make a goofy, Joker-style grin, form a vapid expression on the face, hold out my right hand with thumb upraised, and snap my left fingers and then point my forefinger at her. And just as suddenly I return to normal. “You know, the Buddy Jesus.”
She’s silent. She’s uncomprehending.
“‘Dogma‘? The Buddy Jesus? Not ringing any bells?” I take one more look. “Well, you don’t have it. Thanks for showing me these, though. I think I’d best be on my way.”