Oh there's a story behind this...
LENT: In most Christian denominations is the forty-day liturgical season of fasting and prayer before Easter. The forty days represent the time Jesus spent in the desert, where, according to the Bible, he endured temptation by Satan. (according to Wikipedia)
Friday, February 15, 2008
I’m standing in line at the soda machine, looking over at a small child holding his cup underneath the Dr. Pepper spout.
Dr. Pepper is gushing out of the machine and into the child’s cup.
I look over at my cup as it slowly fills to the brim with unsweetened tea.
“Please, please, please let me smell your Dr. Pepper!” I say to the kid.
“Please let me smell you Dr. Pepper! Just a whiff. Please!”
“Mommy? Who is this strange man?”
“I’m sorry, who are you? What are you doing to my child?” The mother asks, looking concerned.
“Nothing! Nothing- I was just asking to smell his Dr. Pepper… I…”
“Smell his Dr. Pepper? What the hell kind of freak are you?”
“No, it’s not… it’s not, you know, sexual. I just want to smell his cup. I’ve given up soda for…”
“Oh my God. I’m calling the police! I can’t believe- get behind me Billy.”
“Mommy, what’s wrong with the man?”
“He’s a sick freak, that’s what’s wrong with him.”
“No, I’ve given up sodas for Lent, and I just wanted to…”
“I’m calling the police.”
“I’m sorry, I’ll just leave.”
I grabbed my iced tea and walked out. People glared at me for my entire journey back to my car.
“Dammit! I forgot my hamburger and fries!” I said looking at the tea in my cup holder.
The crowd of angry onlookers continued to glare at me. There was no going back in.
“Jesus Christ.” I said sighing driving off.
“Aw, what’s wrong buddy?”
“Oh hey Jesus.”
Jesus was riding in my passenger seat. Yeah, I know. I’ve read the bumper stickers- “If Jesus is your co-pilot, switch seats”, but it turns out Jesus likes riding shotgun. He likes having control of the radio.
“Having a bad day?” He asks.
“Yeah. Well… You know Lent?”
“I know something about it.”
“Well, I gave up drinking sodas this year.”
“Wait, you gave something up?”
“But you never give anything up!”
TWO WEEKS BEFORE LENT
“What are you giving up for Lent?” She asked.
My girlfriend and I were sitting at an IHOP eating pancakes, fries and drinking sodas. It was 3 in the morning. We were drunk, talking about life, love, and Lent.
“I don’t normally give anything up. I haven’t been to church in ten years. I’m not really religious. Do you give something up?”
“I do. Every year.”
“Well, not this last year. Or the year before that.”
“Are you going to give something up this year?”
“If you give something up… I’ll give something up too. I’ll support you.”
“Sure. What do you want to give up?”
“I don’t know.”
“I don’t normally eat chocolate anyway.”
“When people asked me what I was giving up I’d usually say I was giving up something I don’t do anyway. Like swimming in the ocean, or sex.”
“That’s cheating. And we’re not giving up sex.”
“Thank goodness. I mean, I wasn’t usually having sex before, during, or after Lent, so it was easy for me to give up, but now…”
“We’re not giving up sex.”
“So. Speaking of, you want to go back to my place and…”
I called her a couple of days later with an idea.
“I’ve been thinking. What if we give up drinking sodas?”
“And now you’re not drinking sodas?” Jesus asked. He had found an old fry that had fallen under the seat and turned that one fry into a supersized container of fries. I guess what works for fish and bread pretty much works across the board.
“MMM! These are good!” He said with a look of surprise.
“You’ve never had fries before?”
“Yeah, I gave up soda for 40 days and 40 nights.” I sighed.
“I lived in the desert for that long.”
“Yeah, but you didn’t give up soda. It’s not the same.”
“What are you talking about? I lived in the damn desert for 40 days and 40 nights!” Jesus said. He sounded bitter.
“Yeah, but were they’re sodas in the desert? I mean it’s not like you were coming across McDonalds, or Sonics or Wendy’s around every dune to remind you of what you’re missing out on. There was just sand. I could give up sodas easily if I were stranded in the Sahara too.”
“I had the devil tempt me.”
“Yeah. I know. He tempted you with rocks and death.” I said trying not to speed. Jesus doesn’t like it when I speed.
“Look, Jesus, I’m not knocking what you did. If I were to spend 40 days and nights in the desert I’d just end up dead after the seventh day. What you did was impressive. But if the devil shows up after day five and says, ‘Turn this rock into bread, here’s a castle, why don’t you jump off this building?’ I’m going to call it a heat stroke hallucination and go to sleep. It’s not like he was saying, ‘Take this umbrella for the sun! Here’s a glass of water! Have some Dr. Pepper!’ I mean, points taken away from the devil for lame temptations.”
“You know… well, I was going to argue, but that’s a fair point. When you’re in the desert, turning rocks into bread isn’t really all that appetizing. Too many carbs, you know. A fruit salad would have been nice.”
“See that’s what I’m talking about!”
“What’s Dr. Pepper?”
“Seriously. I’m a pretty busy dude. I don’t have time for your secular pleasures. I mean, how long has the fry been around, and I’m just now getting around to eating them. And they are mighty tastey.”
“Well, they’re McDonald’s fries. People tend to like them.”
“Here.” I said handing him the tea I had barely touched.
Jesus did his little thing. Again- if you can turn water into wine, I guess you can turn tea into Dr. Pepper- though I’m not sure how that really works out as Dr. Pepper is a bit more complex than wine and water. I mean it has 23 flavors in it!
Jesus took a sip.
“DAD ALMIGHTY THAT’S BRILLIANT!” he exclaimed.
“I know right!”
“Seriously. I didn’t know you guys could do this. I mean, we gave you brains, and you made the bomb. We weren’t happy about that.”
“I didn’t have anything to do with that.”
“But this! This drink is marvelous!”
“I didn’t have anything to do with that either. I just drink it. Except not for the past week.” I said. I was a bit gloom cause now I didn’t even have my tea to drink.
“Well, I can see why you’re having a hard time. I like it cause it fizzles. I can still taste it in my mustache! Yum.” Jesus said. He was happy. I guess after an eternity of eating loaves of bread and fish and drinking water, fries and Dr. Pepper would taste pretty damn good.
“I’m glad you like it.”
“So why did you do it?”
“Give up soda?”
“Yeah, but you’ve never given up anything before. You haven’t been to church in ten years. You were really mad at us for a long time. You still aren’t going to church… but you’re doing this? Why?”
“For my girlfriend.”
I wasn’t sure what he was asking. I looked over at him. He took a sip of Dr. Pepper. He held out the drink, as if asking me if I wanted some.
“People give up things for Lent as a form of penance, to simulate the things you gave up right? It’s a way of showing they’re faith in you, in God, in religion, right?” I asked.
“Well, I guess this is what I believe in. I believe in supporting my girlfriend.”
“Why is she doing it?”
“I don’t know. You’d have to ask her.”
“And you’re doing this for her.” He asked.
“It’s what I believe in right now.”
“That’s a sweet sentiment.”
“Yeah. If she heard that she’d gag over it’s saccharine-y goodness.”
“Yeah, probably. But at least you’re having sex right?”
“I’m not talking to you about my sex life.”
“Want some Dr. Pepper?”
“Talk to me in thirty-seven days.”