Allow me to regale you with a short tale. Yesterday, as my friend and I were making our way to the local cinema to [finally] see Django Unchained (SPOILER: It’s really goddamn good), we were intercepted by a seemingly nice, elderly couple. As my friend, CeeCee, sat on the park bench finishing her cigarette, the elderly man and his fur-coated female associate approached and addressed us.
“Excuse me,” he began, an ear-to-ear grin revealing his porcelain teeth. “My friend and I are performing a quick survey and would like to ask you a question. Would you mind if we asked you a question?”
In a momentary fart of the brain, my initial inkling was that ‘would you mind if we asked you a question’ was, indeed, the question. So, after exchanging glances, my friend and I both nodded and obliged. His smile grew.
“When you die, do you know if you’ll be welcomed into the kingdom of heaven?”
Shit, my inner monologue muttered to itself, though I managed to remain straight-faced behind my cheap-but-stylish sunglasses. I could hear my friend’s nervous chuckling next to me and, without exchanging words or even a glance, we both knew that we had been roped into one of those conversations. To her credit, my friend wasted no time answering in the affirmative – after all, her father is a preacher. I was a little more obtuse.
“I would think so,” I said with all the bravado and excitement of an 8th grader about to do his algebra homework.
He gave me a quick glance before addressing us both. “How do you know?”
He looked at me again, and my friend must have already known that there was no way I was about to answer this man’s question. To her eternal credit, she threw herself to their mercy and gave the perfect response.
“You have to be saved,” she told them. “You have to welcome His love and accept Jesus Christ as the one true Lord and Savior.”
“That’s right,” he said with an enthusiastic smile. “Do you?”
“I do,” she said, returning his smile with one of her own that was not unlike the smile you give when your aunt asks how you like her awful cooking and you don’t have the heart to tell her the truth.
She’s good. So good, in fact, that I’m not entirely sure whether she was being truthful with him or not. Unfortunately her answer didn’t sate them enough, and they continued. They continued to ask us about our convictions, on whether or not we’ll be accepted into the Kingdom of Heaven, and at one point told us of his friend; a lifetime smoker whose “sin” of smoking resulted in his contraction and eventual death from colon cancer. My friend and I laughed it off at the time, but son of a bitch. You learn something every day.
Once he had finished chiding her for her smoking habit, he turned his attention back to me. It was at this point that his friend, the frail old woman in the fur coat (how they managed to sneak her past the Greenpeace asshole protesting outside Barnes & Noble is beyond me), reached into her pocket with one hand and pulled forth a stack of rectangular papers. While she did this, her other hand came to rest on my shoulder. At this point I wasn’t really paying attention because I was lost in the fountain at the far end of the plaza, and it was all I could do to keep from snapping her frail arm in half (ProTip: I don’t like being touched by people I don’t know or like). He took a bill from her stack and handed it to me, giving us one final word of wisdom before he and his associate departed.
My friend and I exchanged glances, then I looked down at the piece of paper that was in my hand. As it turned out, it was a $1,000,000 bill with a very, very interesting message.