Here we go again. Have you noticed how retailers are trying to pander to radical Muslims, communists, Scientologists, and armies of bare-knuckled Buddhist monks, by refusing to hang up signs today which clearly read “HAPPY ASH WEDNESDAY AND NOTHING ELSE?”
It’s war, I’m telling you. This country was founded by Native Americans who crossed the Iberian Straits or something, and never ever heard of anything Christian, and then Christians showed up and steamrolled over them fair and square. We even put up a bunch of signs and roped off really nice reservations in the wastelands, and then whenever we brought in slaves from other countries, we gave them Bibles.
Christian as all get out, yes sir. And we printed money – what’s it say on it again? In God We Trust?
That’s right, so that trumps the Constitution and the First Amendment – BOOM!
Sure, for appearances sake, we were all like, hey, all religions are “welcome,” and not everyone caught the air quotes, and the boat rides were pretty long, so fine. It was a big country, we weren’t going to be total jerks about it, and lots of the non-Christian crowd had cash or they were willing to work a lot.
But that didn’t mean it wasn’t Christian Land. So the whole month of December, nobody say anything except Merry Christmas. And on Ash Wednesday, that’s all you’re supposed to say as well.
Ash Wednesday. The beginning of Lent. That wonderful time of the year when magic is afoot, and America’s drive-thru windows dance and sparkle with the Golden Fruits of the Seven Seas, on bread.
The Fifth Season some folks call it. For others, it’s the Season of the Fish.
And for others still, it’s got some sort of religious significance.
But what exactly is Ash Wednesday?
I don’t know, man. I got a lot of browser windows open right now or I’d google it. It means lots of things to lots of people, and there’s no wrong way to think about it (as is my understanding).
Like to me, for instance, it has always commemorated the day Ash freed a group of medieval screwjobs (who were in North America for some reason, unless that time warp was a Continent Warp, too), from the horrible, oppressive Deadites. And so Lent begins, where we all give something up, the way Ash had to give up his hand and put a chainsaw on it instead.
Religious studies are REALLY complicated – I wouldn’t worry about it too much.
Unless you’re in a church. I’ll tell you what, last year at this time I went to pick my daughter up from some church group thing she was at with her friend. I had no idea it was Ash Wednesday, because the retailers, as I said, were acting like a bunch of commie bastards and they weren’t having Ash Wednesday sales.
All the signs said “Hump Day” or “Ladies Night” or “Ten Dollars Unlimited Bowling til 5pm!” There might have been Ash Wednesday signs at places which weren’t bars or bowling alleys, but how would I know? Nobody ever calls me up and tells me anything.
So I go walking into this church to get my daughter, and I’m afraid I don’t know much about churches. All I know is what my old man taught me, which was leave your wallet in the car. So I walked in and it was one of these huge churches, with a snack bar and offices and gymnasiums and all that.
And I started seeing people walking down hallways with smudges on their foreheads. The first guy, I just thought, heh – he’s got something on his face. Then a few more and I thought, huh. That’s weird.
Then I blarneyed into the Main Church Area, where they heal people and sing songs and rip people’s hearts out like in Temple of Doom, or whatever they do in there – all I know is I had to clap my hand to my face to keep myself from screaming.
There were about eight hundred people in the room with little black smudges on their foreheads, acting like that was perfectly normal. It was a lot like they were all carrying Body Snatcher pods, and I kept expecting one of them to point at my clean forehead, his jaws yawning open almost folding his whole head in half. Seeing. Judging. Pointing. Screeching.
I reached for my back-mounted shotgun, but I had never owned one of those. That was in Fallout 3. Damn it.
So instead I just cruised along, nodding at people, flashing the Vulcan Live Long And Prosper signal around, smiling, winking. And when I spotted my daughter I grabbed her and threw a chair through a window and ran out into the rain.
Then it turned out it was just Ash Wednesday, and that means everybody gets an ash smudge on their forehead. Oh, I said. Well, that’s not cult-like. Not even a little bit.
Anyway, I forget why I wanted to tell you all that. I guess it’s to let you know that the results of the Future Tom Fish Sandwich Roundup are in, and can you believe Arby’s won? Their fish sandwich is fantastic. Sure, you can go to Wendy’s and get a pretty decent one, too. Have fun spending fourteen bucks on it.
And what’s with their new “natural cut” fries? What did they use lasers before and now they’re back to knives?
Life’s full of mysteries, isn’t it? God Bless America.