[email composed 4 April 2001]
This morning on the train ride to work, an older Black gentleman got up and began speaking, "spreading the word of the Lord." This has happened perhaps two other times in the year-and-a-half since I started taking the train, which just goes to show how far mass transit in L.A. lags behind New York.
Now, I sat there with my headphones on, as I do every morning, following standard commuter etiquette: don't talk to anyone and don't make eye contact. It's anti-social and it works. However, as the man went on about how we need to be ashamed of our behavior and to abandon our wanton ways so we could avoid spending eternity in Hell. There was probably some allusion to Jesus in there. As he continued, I must admit I couldn't help but wonder why God couldn't find someone a bit more eloquent to speak for him. Or at least someone who didn't keep prompting us to "aks" for forgiveness. Perhaps beggars can't be choosers.
The man explained, showing amazing powers of persuasion, that "there is no playpen in Hell." Apparently, there is common belief that Hell is like the playground outside McDonalds. And frankly, this shows how little the man knows, because anyone who has ever spent time in the Playland has seen a little bit of Hell.
He noted that he had led an unholy life in his earlier days, but apparently he had seen the light, or hit rock bottom--who can tell?--and wanted all of us young people to avoid giving in to the temptations of the desires of the body. He figured it best to steer us clear of the delightfully pleasurable mistakes he had made in his days of naiveté and debauchery, saving us the trouble of having fun and having to repent later.
Eventually he reached his stop and exited, without (as far as I could tell) a single person on the car acknowledging his existence, proclaiming that Jesus loved us, and that he loved us. And the rest of us continued our journey to oblivion, otherwise known as the downtown L.A. station.
The thought occurred to me that I could follow this example and pass along some of my knowledge that could help others avoid some of the pratfalls of my past. Then it occurred to me that no one pays any attention to anything I say, and decided that you crazy hippies were on your own. Mistakes build character, or lead to litigation. Who am I to stand in the way of the natural process of life?
Sorry, friends: Jesus apparently loves you more than I do. See you all in Hell. (Better there than in Heaven with all the Born Agains.)