Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Are you ready?

Written Wednesday, September 05, 2007 


When I was a kid growing up in the Baptist church, they used to preach a lot about the Rapture. The church I attended with my mom and my grandma, Pleasant Valley South, was a very sweet, nurturing, wonderful place where I had many positive spiritual experiences, but that Rapture stuff - I gotta tell ya - it scared the shit out of me.

According to the Bible, the Rapture is that day, somewhere in the future, where God decides to take the righteous people up to heaven and he leaves the wicked people on earth to be judged and sent to purgatory and various levels of hell. You can imagine how this scenario might play out in the mind of a child sitting on a pew chewing Juicy Fruit gum from grandma's purse and listening to Preacher Mathis, with his Navy Tattoos running up and down his arms, expounding on how one of these days - nobody knows when - some of y'all are gonna git left.

Like I didn't already have ENOUGH to worry about. Jees. My dad was a psycho, my sister wanted to murder me and now this. Any day now, all the nice people in my life would get sucked up into heaven and I might get left behind to fend for myself or worse - spend eternity with my dad. I was pretty sure that I was righteous and not wicked, but I didn't have any real confirmation of that. There were probably all kinds of loopholes I wasn't aware of that would result in my perpetual exclusion from heaven. I mean - sometimes I lied about stuff and said cuss words. Did that count?

My usual reaction to uncertainty is to become paranoid. Even at such a young age, my anxiety kicked in at full throttle. Every morning I would wake up and check around. Yep - Autumn's still here, snoring and drooling...the cats are here...my Barbies are here...I think I hear Mom rattling around in the kitchen...OK...no Rapture. I'm good.

But the problem was - people in my family worked and went to school. I frequently encountered an empty house. Most of the time I knew where everybody was, but one day when I was about five years old I walked into the kitchen and my mom, who had the day off from work, was not there. My eyes darted around. I had seen a movie about the Rapture at church that Wednesday night, and the music from the kitchen scene began to play in my head. The character in that scene knew for certain he'd been left behind when he found something burning on the stove and realized his wife was gone. I checked the stove and sure enough, there was a pot - on a flame - with BOILING WATER!!!! I HAD BEEN LEFT BEHIND!!!! I WAS WICKED!!!!!

I collapsed in the floor in a heap, sobbing. How could this happen? How would I feed myself? Was there any chance I could get a meeting with God and ask him to reconsider? All was lost. The hellish blackness of a doomed eternity yawned before me.

And then, my mother walked into the kitchen. 

She frowned at me. "What in the HELL is wrong with you?"

"Oh mom!" I hugged her legs. "I thought the Rapture came and I got left behind."

"Well, there ain't no Rapture happenin' today, crazy."

Yes, crazy. My craziness began very, very early in life and sadly - it continues. This morning I came in to work and the front doors were closed. I let myself in with my key, calling for the receptionist. "Eileen? Eileen?" 

Nobody answered.

"EILEEN!?!?!?!?! IS ANYBODY HERE?!?!??!?!" 

Silence.

I was ten minutes late, and still nobody was here. I tried to talk myself out of climbing up the Crazy Tree...

"OK. Now, I know good and well it's not the Rapture because if it was, I'd go straight to heaven because I'm an Episcopalian...but where is everybody? Is everyone stuck in traffic? Twenty people are stuck in traffic? Where is the production department? It's dark in here....where's the light switch? Is it Saturday? Must...maintain...semblance of sanity....must not freak out....WHERE IS EVERYBODY?!??!!? WHERE ARE THEY?!?!?!?! WHY AM I HERE ALONE?!?!?!?!? AM I A WICKED EPISCOPALIAN?!??!?!?"

As I was melting down in the lobby, William the Intern stepped off the elevator. 

"Hey, what's up?" He breezed by me.

"Nobody's here." I said, with tremendous gravity.

He shrugged, "Huh. I guess they're draggin' in late." 

How wonderful it must be for him to have no theological implications in his daily life. He walked over to his cubicle as if his soul was not even remotely doomed to hell.

Before I had the chance to get really nuts, people started showing up. 

"Why were you late? What HAPPENED?!?!?" I demanded.

"Oh, you know - traffic..."

The stakes are very high for me, people. I'd appreciate some cooperation. Don't pull any crazy crap on me any more like this stupid "Everybody be late to work" business. It can really throw me off. 

Now I'm going to be exhausted all day from being so freaked out.

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