I should probably tell you guys about the time I died. I had some really neat experiences in the afterlife and I wanted to share them with you. I don't really talk about this experience very much, because it's really personal, but I learned some things there that I think people should know.
When I was 17 my car was hit by a man named Vonn. He was a midget, and I guess he had slipped down into his seat a bit too far and couldn't see me over the steering wheel. He died instantly, and I was pronounced dead on my way to the hospital.
Everything went black, and then it slowly turned white, like dawn on an overcast morning. When I came fully to my senses, I found that I was standing in a long line of people of all different types. I could even see Vonn the midget a little ways ahead of me when I stood off to the side a bit.
We were lined up against a beautiful stone wall. "Why isn't this line moving?" I asked an exotic-looking woman in front of me. When she answered, I was surprised. She answered in what I figured was Hindi, but I could understand exactly what she was saying: "The gates don't open until 10:00."
Beyond her right shoulder, on the wall, there was a sign that said: "The following attractions are closed today: Fountain of Youth, Streets of Gold, People Mover, Ang3l Chorus." It looked like they had run out of e's, so they had to use a backwards 3 instead.
After about an hour of waiting, there was a small commotion ahead of me in line. Vonn the Midget yelled loudly, "Screw all this waiting crap! I'm getting in right now!" He ran to the wall and scaled it pretty nimbly for someone of his stature and proportions. A moment later we saw him being escorted out by angels with night sticks. They pointed to a sign that said "You must be at least this tall to enter," then directed him to a line where there were a dozen or so "little people" waiting to get in. It was Midget Heaven. You might think this seems like a cruel trick played by God, but let me assure you that the midgets were very happy in their separate Heaven. Everything in Midget Heaven is miniaturized, and they go around blithely destroying tiny little metropolitan areas like they're Godzilla or something.
Anyway, after a while, the line started moving. When I got to the front, I set off the metal detector. Apparently my parents had put silver coins under my tongue in case I needed to pay Charon to get across the river Styx. Anyway, I spit out the coins and put them in the little basket and I made it through the metal detector on the next try. They gave me my angel clothes, and after I changed they showed me into a little office.
The Grim Reaper was sitting at the desk in there. There had been rumors while I was in line that I'd have to play him in some game to enter Heaven, but I was pretty sure they were bogus. Well, there he was after all, with that multi-layered chessish game from Star Trek. Who'd have known that the Grim Reaper was a Trekkie? He even had a little com-link on his tattered black robe. I was so annoyed. "That's not fair! There aren't even any rules to this game!" He just made the live-long-and-prosper sign and moved his first piece.
Let me take a moment to tell you that in person, the Grim Reaper is really creepy. You may find the idea of a nerdy grim reaper to be amusing, but in actuality he's just very scary. So if he wants to play Star Trek Nerd Chess with you, you play. End of story.
Anyway, I think I lost. I was never quite sure because at one point he just stopped moving. I waited for what seemed like half an hour. then I finally just got up nervously and headed for the door on the other side of the office from where I came in. It was that easy.
I walked right through, and found myself... in another office. The lady behind the counter was big and black and had a name tag that said "Cheryl."
"Hi!" she said brightly. "Okay, I'm just gonna need to see your birth certificate, death certificate, proof of residency, Social Security card, Medical records, W-2 forms for the last five years, Voter registration, draft card, and a photo ID." Luckily, my parents had packed all those things into a backpack for me as well as the silver coins. Except for the photo ID, that is. I offered her my high school yearbook. "See? That's me right there."
She blinked a couple of times, and then just started cracking up. She hit an intercom button on the counter. "Darci, you have to come see this! White boy up in here tryin to use his high school yearbook as ID." She had a great laugh, but it didn't make me feel any better. Darci and a few other secretary types came and just laughed and laughed at me. "4000 years I've been working this job and I have NEVER seen anybody try to get into Heaven with his high school yearbook." I was feeling a bit uncomfortable at this point. I was relieved when the ladies came to a consensus that I should be let in. "Welcome to Heaven, sir." As I approached the doorway that led to Heaven, I heard her still chuckling to herself, "white boy tried to use his year book...."
I stepped through the door. Another office. There was an angel with a terrible hairdo. I really hope she lived in the 1950s. Anyway, she was playing solitaire on a computer when I walked in. "Name?" she asked without even looking up. I told her. She started typing quickly like those ladies at airports. "Let's see, it looks like everything checks out. Driving record, employment record, credit, library fees, GPA--." She stopped typing and adjusted the computer screen so it pointed more directly at her. "Hmm, this isn't so good. You failed Algebra II. I really don't think you're ready for eternal bliss. I'm sorry," she said with a sticky smile. She reached for a button on her desk that was labeled "Denied." In desperation, I hit her upside the head with my yearbook and ran for the door. I think I might have broken her jewel-encrusted glasses, but I really don't care.
Through the next door, and into another office. You'd think I would have seen this coming by now. There was a man angel this time, with a broad game-show-host smile. He had a big book in front of him, and had his hands clasped in a "here's the steeple" position on the desk in front of him. "Hello there!" he greeted me. "This is the Book of life. I've been reviewing some things, and I'm not really sure you're what Heaven is looking for at this time."
"Why not?" I asked in an exasperated tone.
"Well, let's see," he said with a grunt as he turned the pages of the massive tome. "Like right here, for example. You ate in line at the salad bar."
"There's no rule against that!" I interjected.
"No, but it just kinda goes against social norms. Look, here's another example. You didn't floss regularly."
"But I never had any cavities!"
"Yes, well, you didn't try very hard to prevent them, either, did you? Look here," he said, turning a few more pages and then tapping a paragraph. "You pick your nose."
"Does everyone have to do this!? This is the worst thing I've ever been through!"
"And see, there you go ending a sentence in a preposition. I'm sorry, buddy, but I really don't think you have what it takes to join team Heaven."
He was reaching for a lever. "Wait!" I cried. I felt in the pocket of my angel robe. "How about you let me into Heaven, and I'll just never tell anybody that it was you who let me through." I slipped the silver coins onto his desk and pulled my hand away, letting the reality of the coins burrow into his brain. He looked confused for a moment, then met my gaze with a wry smile. His hand deftly stole up to the table and whisked away the coin.
"I didn't see anything," he said.
"Neither did I. Thank you sir."
I ran into the next office. "I swear," I said to myself, "Next time I'm going to be prepared for that.
There was an Amish angel at a desk. She had a plain black robe and a simple hat. "Let's see," she said as I walked in. She walked to a filing cabinet and pulled out a file with my name on it. "It says here you showed your ankles quite often in your mortality. I'm scandalized!"
"Oh, this is just ridiculous," I sighed.
"And you used birth control!!"
"I had acne!"
"My, my, my. You ate fatty foods, you wore buttons, you killed a man, you wore your baseball cap backwards on occasion, and you drank Mountain Dew."
"I had to drink Mountain Dew. I was trying to get Pepsi to sponsor my blog [Mountain Dew is all they drink in Heaven, by the way, because it is so delicious. It's just called nectar up there. Go buy some, and then write a letter to Pepsi saying I told you to]."
"I'm sorry, but I think we've just got too strong a case against you."
At this moment I had a brilliant idea. I called upon my 6th amendment right to the Assistance of Counsel for my defence. The angel looked annoyed, but sent for a lawyer right away. They sent me a lady angel in a pants suit who had just gotten a perm and still smelled like it. She and the Amish woman argued back and forth for a bit, and finally the lawyer got me off with the argument, "judge not that ye be not judged, or however that one goes." Free counsel is not often good counsel, I learned.
Oh, and plus, while they were arguing, I walked over to the filing cabinet and looked up the Amish angel's file, and found that she herself had had an affair while "in mortality," and I guess that's what she took from the whole "that ye be not judged" thing, because she let me go right after that. I was prepared for another office this time.
Which is why I was so surprised. I was on the bank of the river Styx, and there was this old skeleton-headed man waiting to ferry me across.
"CRAP!!!" I yelled. I had totally spent my last ancient Greek coins bribing that one angel guy. I saw the pearly gates on the other side of the river. It was too far for me to swim. Then I remembered that I was already dead, so I just swam across the murky water and the dead bodies anyway. It was disgusting, but when I got to the other side, the gates were close. I recovered for a bit, then went over and threw the gate open wide.
Bright white light poured from inside, and the sound of beautiful harps wafted across the air. I stepped inside.
Immediately, the light dimmed back down to a regular level so I could see. It was another office. It was huge and white.
There was a white desk in the center of the room with nobody behind it.
"Hello, my friend" said a voice from on high. I looked up. There was an old Mexican janitor angel at the top of a ladder up there. "I was just fixing the lights, man. They can get pretty bright in here." He climbed down the ladder and went over to the corner of the room and turned off the boom box that was playing the harp music. He unplugged it from the wall, gathered it up, grabbed the ladder, and started to leave through the door I'd come in through. He turned at the last moment and said, "Sorry again about all that. If those lights go all crazy like that again, you just give me a call, okay? I'm extension 347."
"Okay. Wait! Whose office is this?"
"It's yours, kid. Welcome to heaven. You made it. Now your job is to keep everyone else out." And with that, he was gone.
I guess I have to admit that that sounded like it could be fun at first. It had been such an ordeal for me to get there that I was excited at the prospect of stopping others who probably didn't deserve to get past me in the first place. After all, hadn't I shown a lot of cleverness in my arrival? Let's see who could top that. That probably would have kept me happy through the eternities, too, except for one problem. Nobody was making it that far.
I sat there for hours and twiddled my thumbs. I wished my parents had packed a rubik's cube or something. I've always wanted to figure those out. After a long time I picked up the phone and dialed extension 347.
"Hi, yeah, it's me."
"Oh, the new guy! Those lights wigging out on you again? I'll be right there."
"No, actually, I just had a question. Where is everyone else?"
"Oh, they're all in hell."
"ALL of them!?"
"pretty much, sí, the heathens. I guess there's some kind of huge fiesta going on down there."
It took me a whole two minutes to decide what to do. Then I got up from my desk, walked around to the front of it, reached over, pushed the "denied" button, and fell right through the floor.
I landed on a pile of trash at the end of a long, dark tunnel. People were crammed in there pretty tightly. As my eyes adjusted, I realized it was a line. People were waiting to get into Hell. I started to push my way forward. As I got closer to the front of the line, I saw the neon sign that said "Hell." It was really cool. People weren't willing to move so I could get a better view, so I got pretty ruthless and started shoving. I even jammed this one guy in the back with my car keys. Suddenly, someone grabbed me by the back of my shirt and lifted me up off the ground.
"YOU," came the booming voice. I was face to face with the middle head of a huge three-headed bouncer in a black tank-top and a name tag that said "Cerberus." I was afraid.
"You seem evil enough. You're in."
He threw me through the door into Hell. It was dark and smoky and there was screaming everywhere. It was so great. The screaming was coming from some heavy metal band on a stage with a huge mosh all around it. I bumped into my high school Algebra II teacher. "Isn't this place great?" she asked. "There's even a McDonald's here!"
She left to go say hi to Princess Di. I started toward the Walmart I could see at the other side of the cavern to see if I could buy one of the glow sticks that everyone seemed to have, when I bumped into Courtney Love.
"Hey, you're dead?" I inquired.
"No way, man, but this is the most happening party anywhere. Everyone hangs out in Hell." She excused herself because she was on in a few minutes, but as she was leaving, she said, "See you around." Can you believe that? Courtney Love said that to me!
Anyway, I partied there for about a week. I got to know Mother Theresa pretty well. She's a wicked break dancer, I must say. After that week, I noticed a back door with one of those glowing green exit signs. I walked through and found myself in Barstow, California. I guess there's some sort of portal between the two. I went back home (big shock to my folks, I know), and resumed life as usual. Anyway, I just wanted to share that with you all. I hope you feel like you know me a little bit better now, and the Universe as it really is.