I lose umbrellas like it’s my job. I leave the house with one, sometimes two, and never see it again. So unsurprisingly, I was caught in a thunderstorm with nothing to shield me yesterday. Brandon was casually jogging next to me as we looked for a place to hide-out when he said, “The sun is out. When the sun is out and it’s raining people say—“
“The devil is beating his wife?” I huffed. I faked a halt, as if I wanted to control my labored breathing so we could discuss his question further and not because I was being suffocated by exercise.
Apparently the boogie monster is still trolling e-harmony for true love, but the devil has found a match. Unlike the real, defeated enemy that God is rescuing this world from, “the devil” once represented a scary monster who I used to imagine was thin (from running around scaring children) and dressed not unlike Britney Spears in that red latex suit she wore in the “Oops I Did It Again” video. The outfit, I was told, was because he lived in hell and he was hot. And clearly he was seasoned in the domestic violence department, as it often rained while the sun was shining in Alabama. I was about eight when I got skeptical.
“I’m sorry, I said, “but where does a devil man meet a wife? And why doesn’t she call the police?”
“Hush, and go get dressed,” my Grandmother said. So I did. Back then, you see, you did what you were told.
I snuggled in next to my Grandmother in the backseat of the car while my Mother and Grandfather chatted up front, and I thought about poor Mrs. Devil the entire ride to dinner. We piled out twenty minutes later and greeted more members of my family, including my Aunt Denise. Like me, Denise was a creative soul and I found her funny so I seated myself next to her in the big Chinese restaurant we visited regularly.
After ordering, I picked up a calendar of Chinese New Year animals. Like the one pictured above, you first have to find the year of your birth to know which animal embodies your spirit. 1983, where is 1983?
And suddenly I found it. There I was, the boar. I knew, oh I knew in my heart that it was a pig, but to be sure I asked two adults. Both nodded and went back to their conversation except Denise who looked over and asked what was wrong.
I whispered, “I’m the boar.” She pulled the calendar from me, and took her time reading the description before saying, “Jasmine, those are wonderful qualities to have. Be proud.”
“No,” I whined, “they’re not. I don’t want to be the boar. I want to be the horse.”
She retrieved the calendar again and studied the horse’s square.
And then she yelled, at the top of her lungs, “SO YOU WANT TO BE A TRAMP?!?!”
I spent the rest of the evening crying into sweet and sour sauce because life – with the devil having a wife but Eric Bern not loving me in fourth grade, and my boar status, and my hatred of horse people, and my tramp-y desires – was so very, very confusing.
Not once, but twice, has the Chinese-Tramp-Dinner story come to mind this week. The second time came after my dear colleague, Sarah, jokingly asked which birthstone she should get pierced into her ears.
Sarah needed new ear holes because the ones she got as a kid were too low. We used our lunch break to take the subway to CLAIRE’S and get her some new ones. Claire’s, my friends, is still alive and well, buried in the middle of Herald Square among perfume stores. They still have fake hair headbands, and boy band pillows, and if you dare to venture into one with someone you were lucky to meet through work, you secretly consider gifting them with one-half of a best friend’s necklace.
Looking over her shoulder at all the birthstone options, it occurred to me that I don’t believe in such things. Nor do I believe in the Chinese calendar or Mrs. Devil or Mrs. Cleo. And if we’re going there, I hate (but understand) when and why people say “the universe”. We used to say “The Universe” or “The Light” when I studied Kabbalah—ha! Didn’t know that, did you?—and even then I thought it was weird. “Oh, the universe is sending me the money I need.” – Are you kidding me? You think hydrogen atoms are making ATM withdrawals on your behalf? Dare to believe the God of Abraham and Isaac instead!
And it’s all summed up in this quote from the Message Bible—(note: If you don’t own the Message, a contemporary interpretation of the Bible, stop reading right now and go get it.)
“You don’t need a telescope, microscope, or horoscope to understand the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without Him.” – Colossians 2:9-10
BOOM! – Oh, sigh, I don’t mean to be pushy. It’s just that I love Jesus. And I love how there is no room for anyone but Him to live in my heart.
So, that’s all. I’ve edited this on coffee that’s a tad too strong, and I’m now off to enjoy the holiday.
Please know that I am spending July 4th doing things that I believe benefit the entire country: playing Aretha Franklin as loudly as I can, hoping it drifts into my neighbor’s home, praying for the leaders who make laws and guide our social norms, and then joining hand-in-hand with people to watch fireworks. My fellow Americans, I hope you get some of the same.