Writing fiction is not my thing (unlike the delightful Rebecca Bradley), so I make no claims to skill. But here’s a piece I wrote a couple years ago back because I wanted to pay homage to the great George Carlin and because there are very problematic and fundamental problems with the very idea of heaven that need a little exposition. Man, do we miss you George. Anyway, enjoy!
It was a paperwork snafu that left a confused, post-life George Carlin standing before the pearly gates of heaven. Imposing fence, annoyed guard and everything’s white- this must be the ultimate gated community, he remarked to Peter, his brow indeed shuffling with annoyance. In reality, Heaven was actually more the ultimate bureaucracy, and Carlin’s file had been misplaced by some low-ranking seraph. Even Jesus had been forced to extend his stay in upstairs reality, because the only official who could approve the transfer paperwork went on vacation for 12,000 years. That only seems like a long time when you are not eternal, or as in Jesus’ case, if you just told your friends “hav 2 martyr brb”. God didn’t particularly like it this way, but things just weren’t the same after the angels unionized. His Holiness would have intervened, but one time a guy named Luci went on strike and He never heard the end of it.
George was overcome, like all new arrivals, with the overwhelming peace and serenity of infinite love. Just like that first time you had some Ben & Jerry’s, George thought to himself. His body seemed aglow as if pure distilled joy now coursed through his veins, his mind his own and at one with the reaches of the cosmos, intimately knowing their elegant mysteries. Know where I can get some Cherry Garcia? George asked one of many Mormons sitting nearby in the Jesus H. Christ Memorial Park. Evidently Utah had had it right, but it still seemed smug that Joseph Smith was always playing golden plate-frisbee in the park. The Crucifix fountain just seemed unnecessary; water should not be coming out of there. All this was acceptable though; after all, there was still the bliss. George didn’t even mind the explanation for why there would be a Jesus Memorial Park, which made absolutely no sense to him: He died an earthly death for mankind, and the event is here commemorated, George was told. …oh, and by He, I also mean Me, added God, wrapping up His coherent, sensical explanation. Thank God for the bliss. That was enough. At least, it was for a few thousand years.
Hey, you know what I miss? George casually asked his mormon pal Ted Bundy one millennia. Anticipation. Ted agreed, remembering his earth-bound life. He had loved the feeling of anticipation, especially when meeting new women. Every day was great in heaven, but tomorrow was no different from today, so there was nothing to ever look forward to. What about taking your shoes off after a really long day to cool on an ottoman, while you melted into your couch and just savoring the “Aaahhhhhh” of the moment? There were no “long days” in heaven, no sore feet, no achy muscles. Never a moment’s pleasure in their reprieve. George went on, I miss scratching an itch, a really good one that was just driving you crazy, in the middle of your back, then you bite it just right with your fingernail! And I remember this time I gave a homeless guy my sandwich, that felt good, the way his eyes softened and seemed to say, “Is there beer too?” Ted wasn’t listening, still reminiscing fondly about his former life and lady-killer reputation. What about rooting for the little guy, the baseball team that wasn’t quite as good but tried twice as hard because they wanted it so bad? Wasn’t it great if they won, and still pretty great even if they lost? There’s no competition here, everyone already won their game eons ago. All that was nothing though. I got it… what I miss the most is the jokes. Teddy, did you ever hear my “Seven Words You Can Never Say on TV” bit? See it used to be you couldn’t say shit, piss, fu- Ted, an upstanding, if dead, Mormon, cut him off. You can’t say those words! George asked, Why? Am I on TV right now? his face twisting in astonishment. No, those words would offend people, you’re not even supposed to be able to utter them. Sort of like asking German people if their grandparents used to be extra-snappy dressers. George’s eyes flitted back then forth. So I still can’t use the seven words or tell any funny jokes because people might be offended? The FCC only tried to fine me, not purge my soul of humor! Why does anyone want to be here? Ted responded, blase, Oh you know, the bliss and to be close to God… Ted trailed off before George continued. Look, I enjoy those ultimate frisbee games as much as anyone, but it hardly-
And anyway you’re wrong, Ted interjected. You can say all those words on TV, people on earth got over that stuff long ago. In fact they invented whole new genres of profanity. You don’t even want to know what ‘splorking’ means. George’s spleen exploded from pure incredulity. But not here?, he questioned, excitedly. Ted was nonplussed. This is heaven. Perfection doesn’t grow or change. Only people down on Earth do that.