The other day I took a break from sipping scotch and wrapping Christmas gifts to check my inbox for the usual onslaught of seasonal party invitations.
The glowing Hula Santa suction-cupped to the top of one my speakers jiggled merrily as I brushed bits of tinsel and paper trimmings from my keyboard and logged on. A veritable cornucopia of holiday cheer twinkled between subject lines for Nigerian banking scams, Viagra offers and MySpace messages, but one in particular caught my eye.
“Come All Ye Faithful, Darling!” it said.
Who could it be from? I opened the email and began to read:
Guess who, girl! It’s me, God. I bet you didn’t think you’d hear from me again. Well, you know how I am — always full of epiphanies.
Anyhoo, you simply won’t believe what I’ve been up to up here. I’ve gone corporate, darling. And I’m talking global on a massive scale. I am SO over all the knockoffs out there using my name without permission. I’ve decided to wrest control of my brand once and for all.
I’ve even got an entourage! I want to give you an exclusive so you absolutely must bring your lovely little buns to my launch, and don’t forget your press pass! Details below.
Divine Creator, etc.
ps: To RSVP please respond to this message with HAIL MARY in the subject line.
As some readers may recall, I first interviewed the Almighty several years ago over drinks in a cozy, unpretentious gay bar in the ‘hood. This time the watering hole in question was much more upscale. Limbo is a hip new club popular with celebrities and wannabes.
I arrived early to find that a small crowd of autograph seekers had already gathered outside. I brushed by them. The bouncer whisked me past the velvet rope onto the red carpet.
There was a collective sagging of shoulders amongst the paparazzi when they realized that I was a nobody. But they quickly perked up when they spotted a famous socialite fresh out of rehab hot on my tail, diamond-studded cell phone in hand.
Once inside, I was ushered to the VIP section where a bottle of Cristal sat chilling in a gold-plated ice bucket. There was an embossed tent card. “Help yourself, darling. Be there soon. Luv ya, God.”
I poured myself a flute and had a look around.
I’d never been to Limbo before. It was quite impressive. A wide corridor indented with sitting areas encircled an immense horseshoe-shaped bar staffed by bartenders who looked like International Male models.
A ramp at one end rose gently to a dance floor visible from everywhere in the club. The design was retro modernist with a nostalgic touch of deco, featuring cherry wood panelling and teak and chrome accents. Along the walls, opaque aqua Lucite alcoves displayed African carvings —Makonde sculptures and Yoruba fetish dolls.
There was a sudden commotion and all eyes swerved to the entrance where three mysterious figures appeared, silhouetted by a barrage of flashbulbs and TV lights.
They were covered in hooded cloaks and face veils, and wore Prada sunglasses, the kind that make everyone look like a mutant bug in a ’50s sci-fi movie. It was very Grace Jones.
The classic Clash song Rock the Casbah blared over the speakers as the swaddled triumvirate wafted in my direction, then stopped in front of me.
“Hello darling,” one of them said as they whisked off their shrouds. “We three queens of Orient are!”
To say that I was not prepared for what I saw would be an understatement.
The first time I encountered God, She appeared as a drag queen because, as She explained, She always assumes the culture and customs of the people She visits.
Back then, She was doing Catherine Deneuve, but this was even classier: Iman, or at least a roughish approximation of the ex-supermodel.
“Fabulous?” God asked.
“That’s one way of putting it,” I responded.
I’m a big Iman fan. One of the most beautiful women in the world, the multilingual business leader and humanitarian activist is the ambassador for Keep a Child Alive, which provides AIDS treatments to children and families in Africa, and spearheaded the I Am African AIDS awareness campaign. Girl knows how to work a room.
So does God.
She looked amazing. She wore a tight, metallic gold, sarong-style skirt, a matching sheath for a top, and Her towering head wrap channelled Erykah Badu. Bangles cascaded down Her forearms. The pendant on Her necklace was an ankh, the ancient Egyptian cross symbolizing life.
She sat down and Her entourage followed suit.
Her companions were equally miraculous, two incredibly buff young men wearing nothing but posing pouches. One of them carried a large plush teddy bear dressed in chaps, a motorcycle jacket and a black leather cap.
“Darling, meet my assistants,” said God. “They’re absolute angels.”
They were. I admired the soft white feathers on their folded wings.
“This is Gabe, my publicist. He’s always trumpeting my praises.”
“Hey,” said Gabe, grinning broadly.
“Nice to meet you,” I replied, sensing some sparks.
“And this is Mike, my bodyguard,” said God. “As you can see, he’s into bears.”
“Hi,” said Mike.
“Does the bear have a name?” I asked jokingly.
“My friends call me Mo,” the bear answered, giving me a high-five. Anything is possible in the presence of God.
Mike leaned over and stage-whispered, “It’s short for Mohammed, but you might not want to put that in your story because know how some people can get.”
“Point taken,” I said.
“Mo is my financial advisor and business manager,” God chimed in. “He’s a miracle worker when it comes to wealth management. In fact, he’s known as The Profit in stock market circles.”
God was distracted by a server who came by to take drink orders, and I was distracted by Gabe, who was playing footsie with me and staring with those heavenly bedroom eyes.
God ordered another bottle of Cristal “for the boys.”
“And I’ll have a Virgin Mary,” She added. “But hold the virgin, girl. I mean, as if.”
“An Evian for me,” said Mo. He looked at me and shrugged. “Twelve step,” he explained.
When our drinks had arrived I took out my recorder and began the official interview. I started off by asking God to explain Her new branding campaign.
“A little background first, darling,” said God. “Everyone from moviemakers to warmongers to pop singers claims that I am in some way involved in their ventures, which just isn’t true. I haven’t received so much as a phone call. So I’m rebranding myself. I want to put some fun back into faith. It started when H&M asked me to create a collection for them. They were impressed by my intelligent design sense. Why do it for them, I thought, when I can form my own enterprise. And now we’re rolling out a worldwide campaign that includes fashion, television, internet and a motivational speaking tour.”
“Do you have a name for your brand?”
“Yes,” God replied. “It’s called Olduvai Gorgeous. As you know, Africa is the cradle of humankind. Chile, it’s time fo’ mama to rock the cradle!”
“Is that why you chose to appear as Iman tonight?”
“Yes,” God answered. “Iman is Arabic for ‘to have faith.’ Plus it’s a girl’s name in the Arab world and a boy’s name in Persian. As the world’s top model, I have to set an example for all genders —and sexual orientations. It’s high time everyone learned to appreciate the fruits of my labour.”
“Is what you’re wearing tonight from your new collection?”
“Yes. We’re premiering the entire collection at New York Fashion Week. Watch your back, Heatherette!”
“You mentioned television. Can you elaborate?”
“Yes, yes, yes! It’s going to be SO fabulous. We’re producing a reality show called The Apostle. We selected 12 disciples from thousands who applied, who compete each week until one is left. The prize is a board position with Olduvai Gorgeous, and eternal bliss.”
“You must have a signature line.”
“Of course I do, darling. You’re excommunicated!”
“Anything else about the brand you’d like to mention?”
“I have to talk about my online store, The Fashion of the Christ. I’m sure you’re aware that Mel Gibson has made a killing selling tacky spinoff merchandise from that snuff film he made —please don’t get me started. Mine is much more upmarket, with limited edition jewellery collections and high design household items.”
“Speaking of Christ, can you finally put the rumours to rest and either confirm or deny that you were his father.”
“I never kiss and tell, darling,” God said moodily. “And please, no more personal questions.”
“Okay. Let’s talk about atheists. Any thoughts?”
“Everyone’s a critic, darling,” She said, throwing Her hands in the air. “That’s what free will is all about.”
“Pope Benedict XVI has been on the anti-gay bandwagon big time. Care to comment?”
“I wouldn’t worry about it. That girl’s really got to get with the program. I mean, it doesn’t get more Catholic than Latin America and this year Sao Paulo had the biggest Pride in the world ever, with over three million people. Then there’s Spain, one of the first countries in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. They don’t say I work in mysterious ways for nothing.”
“I have to wrap this up, so do you have a Christmas message for readers?”
“Of course I do, darling. Eat, drink and, most of all, be Mary.”
We polished off several more bottles of Cristal, then Gabe and I staggered out into the crisp night air and headed to my apartment. The evening couldn’t have ended more perfectly. I was touched by an angel — and in all the right places.