|Day of Dedarkment, Aprilcot
13, 41 A.B.
India is the Holy Land,
mountains and rivers enlivened
than 300,000 local deities."
- Newsweek (March
27, 2000, p. 58)
I read that at breakfast this morning.
I don't believe I've ever had a breakfast quite like it before.
A bowl of Total corn flakes, a cup of lactose-free milk, half a banana
(sliced), a small glass of Minute Maid orange-tangerine juice, and the
knowledge that there are over 300,000 "local deities" running around less
than 7500 miles from my back door.
If they were to all line up between that back door and India as a spring-time
lark akin to that old phone booth stuffing fad that used to be so popular
back when calls only cost a dime, there'd be almost 50 deities per mile.
Now, that's a lot of all-knowing, all-seeing omnipotence by any measure.
And truth be told, it's one thing to be an atheist when all you have to
do is deny the existence of one god, or even the three-in-one version that
a lot of folks hereabouts favor. It's a whole 'nother thing
requiring a whole lot more energy to be an atheist when you're having to
deny the existence of a procession like that!
I got me two slices of cinnamon toast and some coffee before rolling my
trash out to the curb just in case circumstances kept me busy denying gods
all the way through lunch.
As I rolled that trash out, I did some calculating. (I figured it
couldn't hurt, since I wasn't actually handling a writing utensil at the
India has almost exactly 30 times the land area of Ohio.
Thus, everything else being equal, Ohio ought to have 1/30 the number of
local deities as India.
Which works out to 10,000.
Or approximately 113 for each of my state's 88 counties.
I mean, we only have 3 county commissioners, after all. Do we really
need 113 deities to run a mere 410 square mile piece land?
It seemed highly improbable to me, even if these deities worked in shifts
and got two weeks off every year once they'd made it through their probationary
Nonetheless I took extra care as I rolled my trash out to the curb, not
wanting to start my day off by accidentally running the wheels of my Waste
Management container over the toes of a single god.
It was after I had safely positioned that container at the end of my driveway
and had turned back towards the house that I noticed a Certain Something.
Blowing across the front lawn!
A piece of paper that I might have grabbed and thrown away on any other
day, but not today.
Not when it looked to be a note.
Not when there were at least 113 deities in my area, not all of whom could
be expected to remember everything they needed to remember without jotting
a few things down.
So this morning I not only grabbed the paper as it wafted towards and then
over my feet.
I actually read it.
And thus my life was transformed....
It turned out to be an 8.5" by 11" sheet of white paper, folded in half.
Exactly the sort of commonplace paper you'd expect a deity to use so
that if it was lost, no one would be any the wiser.
On this paper was written a series of notes - in pencil. Exactly
as if what was being noted was so important, it had to be written down
immediately after grabbing the first and most common writing utensil available
- which is almost always a pencil!
With beating heart and bated breath, I examined the paper more closely
and - with fluttering eyelids - read the words upon it.
Here is what they said:
DeHavens 2/100 nut rack or 2
- 2 tier rack
shelf - for meat
Chip 99¢ Reg - BBQ
Smittys - 2/100 Nut Rack 3' or 2 tier shelf (2)
Old Mega Container (for her candy)
Pharmacy - Ada
Coffee House - Ada
Snack items - Sams
Lucky's - 2x4
Fax Waruger Re Racks
Billy Bob's - 3x4
Joe - 3x4
Being a typically rational, educated American,
I pondered all this several full seconds before concluding that the gods
had delivered this message of theirs into my hands for a reason.
The question became, "Can I make money off it?"
I read these notes again and again in the admittedly implausible belief
that if I understood what they meant, I'd be in a better position to exploit
them for personal gain.
DeHavens, I knew, is the name of a local hardware store not far from my
home. But why would a hardware store be associated with nuts and
And then I knew - I knew!
The gods had written this in English so I would understand it. Not
Hebrew. Not Sanskrit. English. They weren't trying
to be mysterious. They expected me to read and understand
their message as I naturally would.
And reading the notes naturally, as a little innocent child might,
their meaning became crystal clear:
I was to go to DeHavens as a hand-picked prophet of the gods and convince
the owners to start selling chips and nuts for the convenience of the local
I almost fell over, having never before having had such responsibility
placed in my hands!
And once I had succeeded at DeHavens, I was clearly expected to spread
the message and the commandment of 99¢ chips to select pharmacies
and universities across the state.
It's when I realized this that I actually did fall over.
I wanted to be sure I got it right.
When I recovered my senses and read the notes again, the full enormity
of their importance hit me.
Like, who do you think "her candy" refers to? Huh? HUH??
And how would you feel if you finally had incontrovertible proof
that people with names like Lucky and Billy Bob actually and truly lived
in your area???
And then - oh, and THEN!
I unfolded the paper and read the flip side.
That's when I saw that it was no ordinary paper at all!
It was actually a flyer for the Meat Snacks, Co.
A flyer promoting Limited Edition Nascar Mugs packed with 6 of Bull's
Biggest Beef Sticks!
I gasped, I sighed as I dropped to my knees and full knowledge and
understanding washed over me like ladles of gravy over raw steak and mashed
"The gods are rednecks!" I whimpered into my holiest pocket. "And
that last note there on the right implies they've learned how to operate
The horror... the horror... and the enormity of it all! But mainly
I quivered, I sobbed, and then I involuntarily raised my arms to the sky
and begged the gods to relieve me of a burden bigger than I could bear.
"Please!" I begged. "Relieve me of this burden that is bigger than
I can bear!"
And at that moment - at that very moment - a truck went by, fluttering
the paper in my hand.
And I knew that had I only chosen to let go of it, it would have gone sailing
on down the road.
And then I knew - I knew! - I had been relieved of the terrible burden
placed upon me. All I had to do was let go.
But since letting go would only clutter up the road or someone else's yard,
I wadded up the paper and tossed it in my trash.
Thank the gods it was merely paper and not stone tablets I'd been entrusted
with, otherwise I'm sure Waste Management would have charged me extra to
haul it away.
And thank the gods that March 27 issue of Newsweek hadn't been published
in burning bush form, otherwise there'd probably be one hell of a nasty
landfill fire somewhere out there tonight....