73. Regions

The name on the door was Buddha’s Boss. I waited at the door. Nothing happened. I waited some more before finally reaching for the knob.

The Almighty swung the door wide. I jumped a little. “Jesus Christ, Jeff! You know that’s just creepy how you always do that, right?”

He looked even more pleased with himself. “Come on in, Paul. I thought I’d steer our conversation a little today with my door joke.”

I sat on the couch. “So that’s a joke?”

“Aha! We’ll get to that. First things first: I hear somebody has a gig coming up. Details please.”

I told him all about my upcoming gig with my trio (while feeling a little pride; I hope that isn’t really a sin!). Then it occurred to me. “Wait a minute! How did you know about this?”

The Lord smiled. “The Department of Unrevealed Big News From Friends and Chocolate Cigars. They keep me updated.”

“But … they don’t give you the details?”

“Dude, come on! You think you’re the only person in the universe with a secret? Susurrus and his staff are kept pretty busy just with engagements, pregnancies and underage piercings. Of course I’ll come to see you play. I’ve never heard your folkie stuff.”

Should I be nervous about The Nifty Ruler of the Universe coming to see my show? Pah! It’ll be nice to have a friend there. “Thanks, Jeff. That’d be great if you can make it. So you wanted to discuss Buddha?”

“Buddha, Ra, Shiva, Vishnu, Odin, Allah, Shakti, Mithra, Bunjil, Zeus, Huitzilopochtli, all those guys. As you might expect, as the world became more populated, things just got more and more complicated to manage. I found I just wasn’t able to keep on top of all the things my management team was working on. So then I came up with the perfect solution.”

“No.”

The Lord of All beamed. “Yes: Middle management. Along with all the things that were happening with my departments, there were a lot of issues that were very specific to certain areas of the globe. I couldn’t even keep track of all the frigging time zones, so I spoke, and Lo …” He waved his hands around like a bad street magician “… there were Regional Managers!”

Fuck. “So how’d that work out?”

“In the beginning (I love saying that!), not so bad. But then people started to worship their regional managers like they were gods! I mean, I didn’t mind so much – contrary to what you may have heard, I am not a jealous god – but then, as zealots tend to do, y’all started fighting about who was right! It was crazy! I mean, you’re all a little right. Well, except for the Scientologists. They’re fucking batshit!”

Couldn’t argue with that. “So how did it fuck with your system when globalization happened, and people with different regional managers started moving to different parts of the world?”

God pointed at me. “Smartypants! That caused a real clusterfuck for a while. People would move to another part of the world, but keep praying to their old regional guy. Suddenly all my regional managers were listening to prayers from all over the world. Finally, I decided that all the ‘gods’ should just stick to their territory, and not worry about it if some of their people moved. So you may think you’re praying to the god you grew up praying to, but really the prayers just go to the guy who has that region.”

“So really, what you’re saying is that when you emigrate to a new country, you should have to convert to their religion, because it is the right religion to have if you’re going to live there?”

“Yes.” Then a look of realization. “NO! Wait! No. That’s not what I’m saying. Nobody HAS to change their religion! They should just pray how they want. What I’m saying is that it has no effect.”

I smiled and pretended to write in my notebook. “God says, ‘Prayer has no effect.’”

The Supreme Being finally figured out that I was messing with him. “Fuck you.”