Martinis and God

by Geoff Jones

So, I’m sitting here at a bar during rush
Hour near the Hermann Park Circle taking
Stock of my ordinary life… I do some of
My best thinking in bars… I don’t know
Whether this is good or bad… But I do
Know that being here is liberating… I have
Answers to questions… And questions for
Which I have no answers… And sometimes
God chimes in on cue… He speaks to all of
Us you know…

My wife is running late for dinner at The
Raven so that leaves me all alone with
The boss… He and I often chat… And when
God starts speaking, I start listening…
It’s not as crazy as it sounds… Sometimes
He whispers… And sometimes he visits me
In some deep and solitary place… He does
Most of the talking anyway… Ain’t that a
Kick… There are times when I miss the
Point he’s making… But he has plenty of
Patience for a dolt like me… And lately I’ve
Had my fair share of doubts…

He knows me by name…

“So Geoff… Let’s start here… Believe in me…
Period… And I don’t really care what you call
Me… Names don’t matter… To think otherwise
Is foolish… And I never cared if you ate meat
On Friday… Or if you prayed while facing east…
Or if your testament was old or new… I’m bigger
Than all that… This ritual stuff is for the birds…
The false triumph of orthodoxy over reason and
Faith… C’mon… The important thing is that you
Pray… In your own way… Honestly… With
Malice toward no one… Without giving a second
Thought to dogma or failed traditions… It’s
Easy…”

It’s raining outside… Traffic lights reflect red
And green on the pavement… The reflections
Remind me of Christmas… But it’s February…
The dreariest of months… That’s okay… A
Waiter named Fletcher delivers a Martini with
Great aplomb, although I suspect he would
Rather be anywhere but here… I admire people
With mundane jobs who perform them with
Dignity and grace… The first healthy sip of
Vodka primes me for insights and a revelation…
God and Martinis don’t lie… He resumes his
Lecture…

“I am purity of heart, even as I see your flaws
And imperfections… Hey, you’re forgiven… No
One’s perfect… But what’s with all the conflict…
Over what… Nomenclature and religion… And
These are the things that divide you… But in
Your zeal, you wall yourself off from me…
We don’t need walls… That’s for sure…
And you know Geoff, you might reconsider the
Way you look at things… You’re so focused on
Man’s relationship to god that you neglect man’s
Relationship to man… That’s one hell of an
Oversight, don’t you think… Religion leaves
Psyches and souls in shambles… And as for the
Demagogues and minor deities far and wide…
Oh well… They will collapse under the weight
Of their own bluster and narcissism… Now pay
Attention…If anyone should know about these
Things it’s me… And if I’m big enough to embrace
Diversity why in the world can’t you… Hey, listen
Up… I’m the gatekeeper… No barriers to entry
Allowed…”

A shapely singer in a sequined dress rises
Up from a black baby grand to catch her
Breath for a minute or two… I love the way
She walks… Blood red roses in a white porcelain
Vase sit atop the piano next to an empty wine
Glass… Curtis Mayfield can faintly be heard
From the speakers above the bar… As music
Drifts down to fill the void until the songstress
Returns from her break…

“People get ready… there’s a train a comin’…
You don’t need no baggage… You just get on board…”
I love that song… It reminds me of home…

Fletcher nods in my direction and I motion
For a refill with a guilty smile… Apparently
God’s not through with me yet…

“Your tickets already punched if you get your
Head screwed on straight… But your priorities
Are all balled up… And what’s with this Gospel
Of Prosperity I’ve been hearing all about… I’m
All in favor of making a buck, but how many
Cars… Or wrist watches… Or bottles of Bordeaux
In a wine cellar are enough… And I don’t need
Another church if some poor working stiff
Needs a cheeseburger… Or if a struggling
Mother needs diapers for her child… Hell, I
Saw what that was like two thousand years
Ago in a manger… I have plenty of churches,
And temples, and mosques already… Wake up,
Will ya’…”

The refill arrives and I thank Fletcher before
Removing an olive from a long-stemmed glass
With my fingers… The singer returns to her
Perch behind the piano and knocks over the
Vase with the roses… She quickly addresses
The mess she has made with poise and
Without a hint of embarrassment or panic…
You gotta’ love grace under fire… Be cool…
There’s no room for overreaction these days…
Assess your predicament… Look out for
Yourself, sure… But maintain your perspective
And balance… God will figure things out if
You let him… No runs… No hits… No errors…
The broken vase is replaced with another… And
The roses are rearranged… Many issues in life
Are just this easy to resolve…

My wife is weaving her way to the bar… She’s
Dripping wet from the storm outside… Thunder
And lightening and other signs of the apocalypse…
But she still looks pretty good from where I
Sit… And God’s in a hurry to finish… He has a
Few parting words for me before she arrives…

“So here’s the scoop… The real skinny… I
Revealed myself to you and all the others in
My own time when I thought you were ready
To hear me…All in accordance with your wants
And needs… And your capacity to grasp what
I was saying… Holy water and circumcisions
Don’t matter much when so much else is at
Stake… So there you have it… Now shape up
Geoff… You’re better… Or at least you oughta’
Be… Than all this nonsense that prevails over
Logic and your best intentions… And most of all
Don’t give up hope… Hope is insistent… It’s
Unrelenting… Alright then… I’ve said my peace…
I’ll see you next week… Same time… Same
Place… Oh, and Geoff… Don’t be late… I hate
To be kept waiting, you know…”

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