Herman Cain and I have something important in common. God speaks to us. Regarding Cain, I guess God wanted to comfort him after four women accused him of sexual harassment when he headed the National Restaurant Association. And what could make someone feel better than God urging him to be a candidate for the presidential nomination? Las Saturday, Cain told young Republicans in Atlanta that God said exactly that. Ever humble, Cain told God he was the wrong man—not another Moses. But think about it. If God wants you to be president, how can you lose?
As for me, I was walking on Clement Street when I saw something burning. Not a bush exactly. Well, not at all. Actually, a fire was burning in a trash container. Like Moses, I had to take a closer look.
That’s when the voice called to me. “David, David.” Or at least, I thought it called my name. I could have been talking to myself. I do that. A lot. The thing is, a name called twice in the Torah signifies a major breakthrough in the history of humankind. Bigger than Texas governor Rick Perry drawing a blank on the third federal agency he wants to axe (oops!) if he becomes president.
“Hey, man, go inside that store there, get me a six-pack and leave it right here,” the voice commanded. “Is that you, God?” I asked. “Whatever floats your boat,” the voice answered. Except that’s more the story of Noah and the Flood. “How do I know it’s really You?” I asked. The voice had a ready answer. “I spoke to Herman Cain. And to Rick Perry’s wife, Anita. Ask them. I get around during election season.”
“Not so fast,” I said. After all, Abraham took on God about destroying Sodom and Gomorrah. “You told Cain he should run for president, and you told Perry’s wife the same thing?” The voice came right back without missing a beat. “I talk to all Republicans. Have you ever heard of one who hasn’t spoken with me?” I shook my head. The voice went back to command mode. “Beer. Now.”
I stared at the fire and startled. It was getting smaller. Not like the burning bush. Then I noticed a tiny speaker on the light pole a few feet away. D’oh! God wasn’t speaking to me at all. No matter how self-important I may be—I’m the author of SLICK!, a helluva terrific novel full of geopolitical satire—I know I’m no Abraham, Moses or King David (although red hair runs in my mother’s side of the family). I walked away.
“Hold on!” cried the voice. “When God talks, everyone listens.” I flipped him off. “That’s a take-off on the old TV commercial for a brokerage that doesn’t exist anymore. ‘When E.F. Hutton talks, everyone listens.’ Crappy spots. Buy your own beer. I’m outta here.”
I felt somewhat bad about deserting whoever it was who’d rigged up the speaker. The ploy was clever. You’ve got to respect that. But when it comes down to it, some people will say anything for a drink. Or a vote.
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I’ll be reading from SLICK! this Monday night, November 21, 7:00 pm — Phoenix Books, 3957 24th Street between Sanchez & Noe, San Francisco.