The Great and Powerful Parmigiana

“God was really watching out for me,” says my friend (weakly) from her hospital bed in the critical care unit. “I’m so very grateful to Him.”

I bite my tongue until it bleeds. Seriously. I suddenly have that distinctive taste of copper in my mouth. I’m almost afraid to smile for fear my teeth will resemble those of a vampire replete with satisfaction. My rage is blood red as well. I want to slap her.

But it’s bad form to slap a friend who’s hooked up to tubes and monitors in traction and who has a broken vertebrae in her neck, 7 stitches in her forehead, a bad concussion and a dislocated shoulder. At least that’s what the medical people have found so far.

It could be worse. It could be raining.
It could be worse.
It could be raining.

All this demonstrates the loving protection of an almighty Father? Somebody should call social services at once.

“Yes,” she sighs, “if God hadn’t put my niece between me and that guardrail, I’d have pitched over into the river and drowned.” The drowning part is probably not an exaggeration. The Cache la Poudre is currently in flood stage, greedily claiming the lives of flatlanders seeking thrills on Colorado rivers. My friend, though, was merely pedaling along a downhill stretch of a local bike trail.

Clearly, God prefers Friend’s Niece to Friend: Niece survived the accident with only a few scratches.  A miracle!

It comes as no surprise to me that God plays favorites. He’s done it since the world began (some, what, 6,000 years ago?). His Chosen People are actually gorgeous young blonds like Niece, with nary a pious bone in their toned and tanned bodies. Stoutly devout middle-aged matrons are a dime a dozen; God goes for the shiksas (just like my college friend Eli. When he left home, his parents put $70,000 in trust for him, free and clear the moment he married a nice Jewish girl. And this was back in the early 80s. Last I knew, he was still broke and happily lusting after Scandinavians. You’ve got to admire a man of principle, especially at the expense of that kind of principal).

We're off to see the Wizard!
We’re off to see the Wizard!

If my friend considers herself truly blessed for having had her wings so cruelly clipped, I suppose that’s all that matters. But surely we ought to get PETA involved in this. We’re chickens stacked in factory farm crates who actually believe that we’re free range and that Old McDonald loves us. We’re featherbrained animals, and could use some ethical treatment.

I’m no theologian, and while I’m clever, I’m not really very smart. So I’ve decided that the only way to understand God and his Inscrutable Plan is to consider Him a vegetable — what my friend would be now if she hadn’t been wearing a helmet (she has styrofoam to thank, not divine intervention).

At some point after creating the universe He did some bad drugs or suffered a seizure or crashed His bicycle or developed dementia and wound up helpless in bed, immortality providing an eternal life-support system. Perhaps, instead of holding God responsible for the mess the world is in, I should feel sorry for Him. He has turned into a turnip.

I'm here for you.
I’m here for you.

Periodically, I decide to be an informed citizen and keep up with the news in order to understand what’s going on around the globe. There’s not much Mirth out there. I read the paper and am paralyzed with hopelessness and helplessness. I stop writing, even grocery lists (what’s the point?). I brood and stare at my navel. I scowl at Husband when he says it’s a navel he admires, too. I scowl at Husband for breathing.   But I’d scowl at him for not breathing, too – he can’t win.

So I’ve decided that there will be no more headlines for Missy unless they’re like this one: GOD APPEARS IN EGGPLANT; LINE CHEF SLICES UP SALVATION.

Jermarcus Brady of Gino’s Restaurant in Baton Rouge, LA, was prepping parmigiana recently when he found that the moving finger had writ on a chunk of eggplant he’d just cut. There it was, a message from God.

I'm here for you.
“I’m Brian of Nazareth!”

Except that all it says is, “GOD.” What kind of pointless message is that? Some sort of narcissistic tagging, is all. He at least could have gotten personal and etched “God + Jermarcus” in a heart or something. Give the man something personal, for crissakes. Something upon which to fix his faith.

Yet eggplant is enough for Jermarcus, who says he is religious and has suffered some tough times. Adds he, “He’s showing me that ‘hey, I’m real,’ and that’s the only thing I can depend on.”

Did he eat that eggplant, I wonder? You can always depend on Eggplant Parmigiana when you see it on a menu. Communion is communion, after all. The body of Christ never tasted so good – breadcrumbed and fried and drenched in melted cheese and marinara sauce.

God, it seems, has presented himself as an eggplant before. Back in 2007, Felicia Teske of Pennsylvania offered eBay shoppers her own slice of heaven (vacuum-sealed and flash-frozen) for $1,000 plus $20 shipping. The divine handwriting is clearly different than what’s on Jermarcus’ eggplant, but with God all things are possible. I tried without success to find out if Felicia’s eggplant icon ever sold. I like to think that it’s still nestled in among her freezer-burned boxes of chopped spinach and that old dried out ham bone she never did get around to using for soup.

No, I'm Brian of Nazareth!
“No, I’m Brian of Nazareth!”

God sends me messages all the time, of course. I can’t button my jeans, He’s telling me to put the fork down. I wake up with a headache, He’s pointing to that extra glass of wine the night before. I get a pink disconnect notice from the utilities company, He’s reminding me to pay the damned bills on time. My car won’t start, He’s demonstrating the importance of neglected maintenance. I get it.

He’s even appeared to me as a vegetable: the pommes frites at Larkburger, dredged in coarse salt and drizzled with truffle oil, served so hot they sizzle on your tongue. Now, that’s a god I’m hungry for.

11 thoughts on “The Great and Powerful Parmigiana

  1. fadograf

    Welcome back, O Mirthful one!

    • MIRTH is a figment of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to persons or gods living or dead is naught but haphazard coincidence, fraught with frivolity, except when credited directly. Husband understands this.

  2. Kevin A

    I have a friend who was T-boned by a Pepsi truck and ended up in ICU with a collapsed lung and all manner of other injuries. I remember him getting REALLY annoyed about people telling him how lucky he was to be alive. I can see where he was coming from, but it’s hard to know what else to say in that situation.

    • You’re right. “Better you than me, Bucko” doesn’t really work.

  3. ws

    Missed you, Missy. You’re back – better than ever!

  4. Denis O'B

    Missy, as usual I’m inclined (you might even say biased) to agree with your observations on the sanity of the person in charge of this place we all share. Wait hold it, cross out “share,” insert “inhabit.” I was wondering what your devout Gramma O’Brien would say. Your Grandfather, her husband, would say, “That’s tough shit Pauline, everyone has the right to express his or her opinion.”
    Keep the good stuff coming at us! Love Ya! Your Outstanding Uncle, Denis

    • One thing the O’Bs always have plenty of is opinions. I rather imagine my grandparents would be horrified — a generational thing, but also a religious one. My dad once said he envied them their faith, since it was so unwavering. It’d sure be nice to know for sure, wouldn’t it? But since I can’t, I enjoy raising a questioning ruckus. My outstanding uncle knows a thing or two about raising a ruckus, I imagine.

  5. Denis O'B

    Yes , it’s both safe and sane to say Uncle Denis was the ” cause célèbre ” of many a Ruckus : civil , spiritual, social, and familial(?).However I had some fantastic role models, T.J. Jr., Owen, “The pillar of the community”. Then of course there was “Chain” Some day when thing s feel right , ask “The Pillar”,about the 1st woodchuck killed with a “Chug-A-Mug” from a moving vehicle. Thanx,Missy for the trips down memory lane ,and your snarky slant on life and what happens after it. Denis

  6. mary

    That frozen eggplant…doesn’t it say “Gee”? Does that make it more miraculous?

    • Maybe the eggplant didn’t really want to write the name of the Lord outright. All I can think of is Monty Python: “Jehovah! Jehovah! Jehovah!”

  7. Etoin Shrdlu

    The picture is a cross-section through an eggplant’s ovary. The little specks are seeds (aka pre-borne eggplants). This could make Justice Scalia’s head explode. I would slut shame this solanaceous hussy, but, to be honest, the eggplant flower (the naughty bits) has both male and female parts. Sometimes flowers involve insects in their sordid little world. Clearly, not the kind of plastic made-in-China fake fruit we want at Hobby Lobby.

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