Here's another example: Please picture in your mind Wilford Brimley, sitting on a porch in a rocking chair. He is reloading his pipe and adjusting his fishing hat. He puffs his pipe a few times to let the embers fully ignite, then slowly pulls it out of his mouth and considers his sylvan surroundings.
"Oh, hey!" he says, turning to look at you, pleasantly startled at the company. His eyes tell you to pull up a chair. "Did I ever tell you the one about the moose?" he continues with a chuckle. "No? Well let's just say that whoever believes in Intelligent Design must've never seen themselves a moose ...."
But I digress. The good that came out of Maria's painful delivery is of course her adorable baby. That, and the fact that, via childbirth, I gleaned the meaning of life. Here is the meaning of life: If God exists, he/she/it has to be a misogynist. However, a perfect being would not hold any bigoted attitudes. Ergo, there is no God. Now we can put that whole thing to rest. (I'm looking at you, Israel, Palestine, the rest of the world, etc.)
So, being that there is no God, I went out for a drink with my friend Rachel, because once you really figure out for yourself that there is no higher being, it's pretty devastating. From there it's either booze or the bridge, baby. Besides, my Netflix hadn't arrived yet.
We chose the Lone Palm on 22nd in the Mission. For the record, Rachel actually believes in God, and is in fact a rather devout Jew. I like this about her. All of the other Jews I know have Christmas trees.
The Lone Palm is dang darling. It's cozy and a bit Casablanca mixed with The Lost Weekend and a dash of Our Town. Picture Wilford Brimley (again) sitting at a round, white-tableclothed booth. He is wearing hip-huggers and a tight UFO T-shirt, slowly sipping on a fifth of Pernod and singing along to the Smoking Popes.
The Lone Palm has salted peanuts on the tables in cute little footed nut dishes. Black-and-white photos flank the walls, Turner Classic Movies is on the television, and, at least on this night, Ennio Morricone was on jumble with the Jesus and Mary Chain, Burt Bacharach, and the Shins. My God we were happy to be there. Er, rather, Rachel's God.
Rachel had just returned from Thailand, where something very curious had happened to her. I settled in with my Hefeweizen to hear her tell her tale.
Rachel was over there on business, and after a long day's work returned to her hotel room. She was exhausted but tense, and decided to order a masseuse to come to her room. She did what any of us would do: She took a shower and covered herself in a robe, waiting for the woman to arrive.
"When she got there," said Rachel, jutting her chair over to make room for some dude next to her (the bar was rapidly filling up), "I introduced myself by my Thai name, which is 'Cow-Mah.'" Rachel went on to explain that "Cow-Mah" means something like, "She who is really, really white."
The masseuse didn't speak English, so Rachel had to motion to herself a few times and say, "Cow-Mah, Cow-Mah," sharing her name as a form of greeting until the woman seemed to show recognition.
Then it was time for her massage. She took her robe off and figured that she would lie on the bed with a sheet over her, as it is done in America. Instead, the masseuse had her sit up on the bed, naked, and slowly she stretched her right leg up behind her ear. Rachel thought this was odd, but when in Rome ....
Then something really odd happened. The woman began massaging and poking all over her privates. "No," said Rachel, pushing her hands away. "Cow-Mah says NO," she repeated, but the woman would only dive right back in at another angle. This awkwardness continued until Rachel finally said, "NO!" and stood up, grabbing her robe.
Rachel and I, under the influence of strong drink, were laughing, though at the time it wasn't so funny. Apparently Rachel had ordered a prostitute by accident. In Thailand, if you want a regular massage, you do not disrobe. If you want to be titillated, you get naked. To make matters worse, Rachel kept mispronouncing her given Thai name to the woman. Every inflection is important in Thai, and what she was actually saying to the lady was, "Here doggie, here doggie," according to her Thai co-worker the next day.
I tried to make her feel better by saying that it is just body parts, that some areas are more sensitive than others, and that the Thais are obviously more comfortable with this fact. A lofty Morricone soundscape was playing over the system, as if Wilford Brimley were roping himself a lazy steer. Rachel agreed and said she could laugh about it now, which leads me to my final thought on Intelligent Design. Those of us who believe in it, those of us who are conservative Christians, may want to ask ourselves why, if masturbation is so evil, the Lord made our arms long enough to reach our naughty bits. The Lord even created the ability to pay someone else to do it for us. Ergo, if you believe in God, you must believe in the divinity of hookers and wanking. Ah, what magic one lone palm can create.