October 23, 2006

A Good Laugh Does the Body Good


This from "A Girl Named Zippy", a wonderfully funny and touching memoir about growing up in Mooreland, Indiana. I've laughed right out loud at least 10 times reading this, causing my daughter to sigh over her homework, and then demand that I tell her what is soooo funny.

"I didn't believe in God, had not ever, as far as I could remember, believed in God, and yet I was reluctant to formulate the thought too clearly, not to mention speak it aloud, for fear that poor God would hear it and get His feelings hurt.

I believed that the baby Jesus had gotten born, and that was all lovely. Christmas was my favorite time of the year, in part because of the excellent speech, "Fear not: I bring you good tidings of great joy..." and because of the song "The Little Drummer Boy." Anything that involved such persistent percussion was undoubtedly both religious and true.


After he ceased to be a baby, Jesus held little interest for me, until he reached the age where he sat for the portrait that hung above the swinging doors in the vestibule of the Mooreland Friends Church. In the painting, which glowed from a fluorescent light bulb hung beneath it, the Big Jesus looks pensive and honey-eyed. His shoulder-length, light-brown hair is as clean and shiny as corn silk, and he has a beautiful tan. He is way better looking than either Glen Campbell or Engelbert Humperdinck.

I wanted him to be my boyfriend. My feelings about Jesus didn't alarm me at all, because it appeared that everyone around me was flat-out in love with him, and who wouldn't be? He was good with animals, he loved his mother, and he wasn't afraid of blind people. I didn't buy the bit about his terrible death and resurrection for a minute. I knew, beyond and room for doubt, that nothing in this world is both alive and dead. And this was the thing I most wanted to say in church: if you want him to be alive, you've got to stop hanging him on that cross. But it appeared that the cross was what the people of Mooreland valued above all else--more than his life, more than the sweet way he carried lambs on his shoulders in the pictures on the fans furnished by Main & Frame Funeral Homes--the cross, and the way he got sucked up into heaven to be with the Father who killed him. It was such and objectionable story that I decided to skip it. I decided that Jesus was alive, just as people claimed, and that he lived in the trees around my house. He had picked me out personally, and was following me around, watching my every move. Sometimes I lay out in the backyard with my blue tape recorder, just holding the microphone up to t the sky. I figured if Jesus was ever going to break his long silence, it would be on a warm, breezy day in Mooreland, with his best girl waiting patiently in the grass. The tapes I made were very peculiar and very boring. The only voice heard is that of my dad, telling me he's waiting inside with the Campho-Phenique and the Chig-a-Rid. No one ever tried to discourage me; it is written in our very bones, as a people, that true religion requires sacrifice."

7 comments:

ttractor said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
famjaztique said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

wow - following two deleted replies ... I best be on my good behavior!

I love this passage - the way it captures the passionate eenergy of youth

I abhor memoirs - I think it is the sewage of the written word. but my hat is off to this author!

famjaztique said...

I'm not particularly fond of memoirs either, I picked this up at a yard sale where they were offering books so cheap I couldn't resist. I didn't realize this was a memoir til I got it home, but then it turned out to be brilliant and funny.

Num-Num said...

Autobiography is my favorite literary form. Or documentary-with-a-twist. Blogs kinda creep me out though.

famjaztique said...

So....are you saying that this blog creeps you out? hehe

Num-Num said...

Of course not. But...well, you caught me making an unconsidered statement that I can't rationalize or justify or explain. But I stand by it. Even though obviously there are blogs I love and I very occasionally post to my own.