This is a humorous essay about a conversation with God in which the author solicits answers from God about questions pertaining to the creation of this universe and everything in it.
I parked my car and walked toward the Starbucks rather apprehensively. My hands were clammy and my heart was thumping in the most alarming manner. I was quite certain that my heart was going to explode right there and leave me completely heartless, so to speak, outside Starbucks, and in front of all those pretentious strangers too. While it is vulgar enough to loose one’s heart, in a manner of speaking, under most circumstances, doing so in front all these ostentatious strangers most of who were struggling with strangely named beverages which I am quite certain are quite as meaningless to the patrons as they are to the baristas is thoroughly unacceptable. Given what these clueless clientele pay for those exotic sounding drinks – there aren’t many other legal means by which one could get away by charging nearly $5 for a drink, a non-alcoholic drink no less – and the fact that they are already sick to their stomachs, one can hardly see any justification in subjecting them to such a spectacle.
Anyway, I was on my way to have a conversation, an interview actually, with the man himself. No, not Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman - recession or not, it is not him. Not Warren Buffet. Nope, not George Clooney either. Cameron Diaz would be nice, no, but not her. I was on my way to interview – brace yourselves – God! I was actually interviewing God at Starbucks. Don’t ask me how I landed this interview. Providence my foot. I worked real hard to land this gig, OK? And I have some good contacts among the demigods. Don’t know what they are? Now you see why I am doing this interview and not you.
I walked into the Starbucks rather shakily and stood looking around for a minute or two. How was I going to recognize God? There were a couple of possibilities. The Catholic school from my early childhood had done an excellent job of pounding one image of God in my head – a scantily clad and stern looking old white guy with a long gray hair and an unruly gray beard – any my Hindu upbringing another – a serene looking individual with several arms, each holding anything from a very delicate lotus to the most fearsome armament, and possibly multiple heads. Neither individual would have been hard to miss. I am not sure that I would have liked to be seen with either of these forms of God – it tends to draw a lot of attention. And I am a shy guy by nature. However, my cursory look around the comfortable and sparsely populated room revealed nothing more than several individuals at various stages of struggle with their drinks. They all wore determined looks, which clearly indicated their intent to drink their $5 drinks that they had ordered in a moment of foolishness. Nothing about any one of them screamed or even whispered God.
I ordered my standard drink from the fresh-faced young woman behind the counter with a friendly visage and a ready smile. The kids here must either like working in coffee shops or are paid very well. I looked around the room again while the resourceful barista got busy with great alacrity and skill. I kept telling myself that it should not be too hard to spot God anywhere, especially in Starbucks. Perhaps he was running late and was not here yet? Does the Almighty get stuck in traffic too? I studied each person carefully trying to determine their ‘godliness”. There was a very pretentious looking woman sipping her drink rather delicately and looking detachedly around the room. When she caught my gaze, she raised her brows rather sternly, so much so that they crashed onto her hairline causing a few strands of hair to become dislodged and fall down her face. She looked at me coldly down her long nose. It made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I gave her a half-smile and quickly looked away. Not a hint of godliness there. Not even a smidgen. Burr.
Rather shaken, I let my gaze wander down to the corner of the room where there were the usual suspects – a gentleman in a business suit – doubtlessly a recruiter with no jobs to offer - talking to a earnest young man in a starchy new suit – clearly freshly out of college and with no skills; a couple of college kids with their books spread out in front of them – definitely studying very hard but learning very little - and finally a few casual looking individuals peering intently at their laptop screens – apparently searching for something elusive while missing the obvious. Nothing godly about this bunch, I thought to myself. Seated between the scary pretentious woman and the usual suspects was an individual that I had until now overlooked. I returned my gaze to him.
He was a rather desiccated looking guy in a tight fitting short-sleeve shirt, and pants that stopped a few inches above his ankle. His pants were of an unnatural white color, tight around the hips and wide at the bottom; the shirt had a loud and almost vulgar print on it and was buttoned all the way up to his neck. In short, he looked like a geek from the 70s. He was staring in a most frightened manner at a drink that looked either like a Mint Mocha Chip Frappuccino blended with Chocolate Whipped Cream or a Cinnamon Dolce Frappuccino Light Blended Coffee. While I had seen looks of shock and revulsion on patrons’ faces before at this remarkable establishment, this look of pure and unmitigated horror caught my attention. He was actually cowering behind his outsized glasses that were of alarming thickness and taped at the bridge.
I took my drink and walked over to his table. “Are you alright?” I enquired.
He looked at me in a confused manner for a whole moment before answering. “This stuff is disgusting,” he croaked.
“Is that a Mint Mocha Chip Frappuccino blended with Chocolate Whipped Cream?”
“I believe so,” he mumbled in a frightened voice.
“Why did you get it if you don’t like it?”
“The name sounded exotic and it looked very pretty.”
“Man, this is Starbucks. You should know better than to order drinks that you have never heard of before, or at the very least have determined that no has died from drinking them,” I scolded him.
“What’ve you got there?” he asked.
“A non-fat cappuccino – it’s the only safe drink here,” I responded.
He pushed the drink away from him quickly like he was half expecting it to bite him and asked, “Are you meeting someone?”
I winked and said, “Yeah, God”
I had expected that statement to rattle him. To my surprise he beamed from ear to ear and said, “I have been waiting for you.” He stood up awkwardly knocking the chair over and almost knocking the drink out of my hand.
I shook his outstretched hand in disbelief. This was God? I was crestfallen, to say the least. I had grander expectations, if not a scantily dressed, muscular, multi-headed and multi-limbed person with long flowing hair and beard, at least someone a little more different than you and I. Not this geeky dweeb. And his palm was sweaty too. Yuck! I unconsciously wiped my palm on the seat of my trousers.
“You don’t look very pleased to see me?” enquired the geek in what I was beginning to notice was a rather squeaky voice.
“You are God?” I asked incredulously.
I was still a little unsure. Was this geek pulling a fast one on me? “I guess I was expecting you to look a little... um... different.”
“Oh, I can be anything I wish to be. But I wanted to look like a typical American, so I choose this form.”
“This is not what a typical American looks like!”
“Of course, the typical American is big, loud and obnoxious, but that look did not appeal to me very much, so I changed it up a bit.”
He saw the uncertain look had still not left my eyes, so he said, “I suppose you would like to see some evidence of divinity?”
“If it not too much trouble,” I replied.
“Ah, you disbelievers, you are all the same. Very well then, how about I make myself disappear and then reappear. Would that convince you?”
“Excuse me,” he said and turned and headed toward the restroom. He went in and returned a moment later.
“That convincing enough for you, you young whippersnapper?” her asked grinning broadly.
I rolled my eyes in despair.
“You went into the ladies room, you know,” I said with mild amusement.
“Yikes!” he said casting a frightened look in the direction of the restrooms. His hand had flown to his mouth and he was chewing on his nails in the most desperate manner.
“I guess the jokes on me, eh?” he bleated somewhat embarrassedly.
I nodded my head and not without a little satisfaction I might add.
“Do you want to do the disappearing act now?” I asked.
“OK, here goes.” He said these words and he was gone just like that. Poof! He reappeared a few minutes later, exactly where he was and looking exactly as he did earlier. Well, perhaps a foot to the right of where he originally was. But I was willing to overlook that.
“Are we convinced now?” he asked, holding out his hand.
“Very pleased. Very, very pleased, um… Sir. I mean, Lord? God? …” my voice trailed off.
“I certainly am please to meet you, Gomez,” he said.
“Ganesh, sir, er ... God … My Lord, ” I managed to croak.
“Ganesh? What is a Ganesh anyway?”
“My name, sir.”
“I beg your pardon. I am most atrocious with names. You will forgive me I hope, Garnish.”
“Of course, it is not the most common name here in the US, sir.”
“But I am not from around here, you see, as much as most people here would like to believe that.”
“Oh, yes, yes, you are not from these parts. Naturally. I am not sure what I was thinking, your um... Mightiness,” I stammered. He did not seem to notice my unease and kept talking in that squeaky voice.
“So, Mr. Gillespie, I understand you would like to ask me a few questions?”
“I certainly do, um … Highness,” I replied. I was running out of adjectives. I had written my questions down on a piece of paper and now I was frantically looking for it in all my pockets. I was thinking to myself, “God, why do there have to be so many pockets?” as I rapidly dipped my hand in the multitude of pockets looking for that piece of paper.
I almost jumped out of my skin when he said, “Why do there have to be so many pockets?”
“You can read my mind!” I exclaimed. I kicked myself as soon as I had said that. Of course he could read my mind. He was God, wasn’t he? Stupid!
“Read minds? Of course not, I was merely remarking on the astounding number of pockets you have available. You must carry a lot of things around.”
“Lord, no. Sorry, I mean, no, I don’t carry a lot of things around.”
“Good thing too. You appear to have a hard enough time finding what little you do!”
I gave an embarrassed half-laugh. If this is God, I thought to myself, he sure is a sarcastic one.
“I didn’t mean to be sarcastic,” he said with a concerned look on his face.
My eyes narrowed a little and I looked at him steadily. “Are you sure you are not reading my mind?”
“What do you take me for – a fortune cookie? A clairvoyant? I assure you I cannot read people’s minds.”
“But you are God, the Creator, and the all knowing one.”
“Correct on the first two counts, son, but not on the third. Mothers and wives are the only ones that claim to be all knowing. I have hardly made such a claim.”
“But ... but all our religions insist that you are all knowing.”
“Hogwash. Besides, whom are you going to believe – them or me?” he asked with a twinkle in his eyes.
My jaw had dropped to the floor and I was staring goggle eyed at him. A God who knew nothing?
“However, I won’t say that I know nothing….” he began. I looked at him narrowly. I was beginning to wonder whether God was playing mind games with me.
“Are you are sure you are not reading my mind?” I asked rather sternly.
“Goulash, my dear Goulash, why on Earth do you keep insisting that I can read your mind? I cannot read your mind or anybody else’s for that matter.”
“Well, you are the Creator of all things in this world, and you are supposed to know …”
“Because the religious books say so?” he interrupted my petulant response. “One cannot trust everything one reads. Nor can one believe everything one hears. Analysis, my boy, pure and cold analysis of the facts is what is required. One must take a scientific and objective view of things, not bigoted and romantic views - the former leads to truth and the latter only to confusion and chaos. Remember to never loose sight of objectivity, young man. You loose objectivity and you loose everything.”
I was impressed with the earnestness and calmness with which he delivered these forceful statements. He was still smiling in a very engaging way. However, I was also shaken and admittedly a little crestfallen by this disclosure. My God, God was clueless!
“Don’t look so crestfallen, my boy. I am not totally clueless, you know.”
There he went again, reading my mind! Was he really reading my mind or merely my expressions?
“You should stay away from poker, my dear Giuseppe. Consider Mankala or some other such benign game.”
There, he was doing it again! And he was getting my name wrong again.
“Ganesh, Lord, Ganesh!” I said with some exasperation.
“Of course, of course. Please accept my apologies. Getting back to the business of creation, it is inaccurate to presume that I created everything. While I accept responsibility for the creation of the Cosmos itself, at least initiating its creation, I merely facilitated the creation of all things contained in it. My involvement was indirect at best. Am I making myself clear?”
My head was spinning rapidly. If God was only indirectly involved in the creation of the sun, the earth, plants and animals, then who exactly was directly responsible for their creation? Was there more than one God? Had Hinduism and all other polytheistic religions been right all along?
“Just because I did not directly create all the wonderful things that are contained within this Cosmos, one should not automatically assume that there was someone else involved. That is precisely the danger that religions face - when confronted with an unknown, theologians make assumptions that are not based on any facts which create more mysteries, which in turn lead to more confusion, ad infinitum.”
“It is rather regrettable that religion and theologians are hardly held to the same rigor as science and scientists are in our society,” I conceded.
He looked at me thoughtfully for a minute. I was not sure what to say. My head was filled with questions.
“If you did not create the objects contained in this cosmos, then what did you create?” I asked.
“Now, now, I do deserve credit for initiating the creation of this cosmos. As some of your brilliant scientists have already deduced, I just placed an enormous amount of energy in an infinitesimally small area and let it explode into that what you now call the cosmos. The big Bang theory gives one all the details rather accurately. You see son, this form I have assumed is not the real me. I have no form. I am pure energy and I can manifest myself into any object I wish to be. It is an illusion really. I invested a small portion of my pure energy into the creation of the cosmos. The matter present in it, both visible and invisible, has resulted from of this energy. Feinstein has a wonderful formula that describes the relationship between mass and energy, I recall. You should study his works sometime.”
“I believe you are referring to Einstein, sir.” I corrected him.
“Einstein, yes of course, Dilbert Einstein. What a fine scientist.”
“Albert Einstein,” I murmured. “Going back to creation, sir, you did created this universe after all,” I said with some relief.
“I only initiated the creation of this great big cosmos, young man. However, I did not create the galaxies, stars, planets, trees, water, wind, dogs, cats or even man for that matter. These things simply evolved gradually with no intervention from me or anyone else. It made interesting observation I can tell you that. A little slow, but not much unlike the reality TV shows that your generation appears to be so inexplicably fond of. Only my reality show is not faked.”
I was stunned. It suddenly seemed that God had done so little really. Yeah, he “initiated” the creation of the cosmos, so he was the originator of everything that we see and all that we don’t, but he had not created each and every one of us by hand! Heck, this meant that there was no Adam and Eve. This also meant that God did not create the Earth in six days. Man, was the pope going to be pissed! And everything had come about by evolution. In your face, intelligent design freaks! I was pleased as punch. More questions were exploding in my head.
“Then what about the whole business of you creating man in your own image and the six day creation theory?
“I have no form, son, from which images can be made. As I have said, I merely exist as pure energy. An image of nothing is nothing then, is it not?”
I thought about this for a bit. Formlessness and pure energy was all fine, but these concepts were pretty hard for most people to grasp. Most people will believe whatever their minds can fathom and ignore the rest. Scientists are to blame to some extent I suppose – they are guilty of failing to explain the Big bang theory or the theory of Evolution or any other wonderful and accurate theory in a manner that the layman could understand and relate to. Hence people turn away from them. These theories are not glamorous, and there is no story wrapped around them. In short, they are not very interesting. Theologians, on the other hand, realized this deplorable truth about human nature and capitalized on it by expounding theories that were both simple and easy to relate to. Now I am sure there was no malice or any insidious intent initially; it was merely the lack of scientific knowledge that forced them to create this simplistic explanation of creation. However, as more facts were uncovered, they did not let their incorrect theories evolve simply because they had by now become accustomed to the hold they had over the masses. And in order to compel people to stay with their outdated view of creation, they added more explanations; each new explanation was more incorrect than the previous one, and each new explanation also added more complication to the already shaky and brittle theory thus yielding what now appears to be a story full of contradictions. They gave God complete control over the destinies of men, and made him into some kind of a vengeful figure that will strike down disbelievers of their incredible theory. The truth is, everything in this universe evolved naturally and without any oversight or intervention by its originator. And this originator didn’t favor man over beast any more than he favored Earth over any other planet. Someone calling my name rather urgently awoke me from my reverie.
“Grandish, are you OK?”
It was God and he was standing up and looking at me in a curious manner. And he appeared to be getting ready to leave. I staggered to my feet hurriedly.
“Surely you are not leaving so soon? I have a million other questions to ask and thousands of events that need explaining. Please wait a little longer?”
“Do you seriously think a million questions could be answered and a few thousand events explained away in just a little while, son?”
“Can’t you just stay a little longer? I have this rather vexing question on heaven and hell that I wish to ask you,” I pleaded.
“Another time, Ganesh, another time. You do want there to be another time, don’t you?”
My jaw dropped to the floor again, for the third time. At this rate I was sure to have a very achy jaw and a few loose teeth rattling around inside my mouth. He had gotten my name right! He turned away with a wave but not before I had caught the twinkle in his eye. While it was sad to see him go, leaving me with so many unanswered questions, it was comforting to know that there was going to be another opportunity to meet him.
“How will I recognize you the next time we meet?” I called out.
“Won’t you allow me to surprise you?” he said. Then with a wink and a nod he was gone.