miracles (in the dark).

I know sleep experts say: turn off all electronics one hour before bedtime so your circadian rhythms don't go wacky (this COULD be my sleep issue--too much electricity prior to bedtime effing up my circadian rhythms). But I'm desperate to take my mind off of extraneous, stressful things, and so I needed something flippant and fun to do; I decided to write tonight before going to bed and I landed here for some reason. I'm writing in the dark; I'm sure my circadian rhythms aren't confused. At. All. 

One of the things I occasionally do with my class, whenever we need a brain break or have time to kill (we never have time to kill; are you kidding me? This is 21st century public school) is we play a quick round of WOULD YOU RATHER? It's a game of moral dilemmas and gives you great insight into what you and people around you value (when dealing with 7-8 year olds, it can also be a great predictor of who's going to have a well-stocked pantry and bank account and who's going to be living hand to mouth and filing their taxes at the stroke of midnight). 

So I googled "Would You Rather for adults." And I got a Nigerian BuzzFeed link with (supposedly) 100+ funny Would You Rather? questions. (This is what I do late at night, sometimes, by the way: google randomly bizarre things.)

Can I tell you a quick story about a Nigerian I once knew? 

Right after graduating university, I had a temp job in a bank for the summer. There was a team of 5 of us, and our job was to enter data and file car titles. One of my team members was a man from Nigeria. I don't remember his name now, but we're going to call him Joe. He always feels like a Joe to me, in my memory.

So Joe had a crush on me. The problem with Joe was (a) he was 45 and I was 23 and (b) he smelled like garlic. I'm sorry, I know that's superficial and garlic is supposed to be very healthy for you but I don't hang out with people too long who constantly smell of garlic. Take a bath. With lots and lots of soap.

But I'm (generally) a very nice person, and I didn't want to hurt Joe's feelings, so often he'd invite me to eat lunch with him and I would go. And man, the things I learned about Joe and his land. A few things I remember:

1-Joe was a Nigerian prince. (Years later I learned that, apparently, Nigeria has exactly 10.5 billion of them running around and they all either emigrate to America or they email random people promising them 75% of their father's wealth if the people will send them all their financial account numbers. I am certain Joe was just a data entry clerk, not a scam artist. I simply refuse to believe MY Joe would scam anyone. He may try to lure them into a sexual tryst laced with strange chemicals in tea, but he wouldn't even THINK of touching your money. God would smite him.)

2-Garlic IS a very healthy food. And Joe ate whole bulbs of it like six times every day. He also drank this mysterious tea that was inky black (blacker than black, none more black) and tasted like what I'd imagine goat saliva must taste like. Joe promised me it would do miracles on my body and so I drank four sips of it and then just couldn't go on with it. Now, at 42-almost-43, I look back on that idiot 23 year old girl trustingly, so trustingly, sipping at that tea and I just shake my damn head. Shaking it right now, as I type this. (I'm just thankful I was able to finish that one box of car titles and made it home lucid.) (And it gave my body this many miracles: 0.)

3-Joe couldn't pronounce Amy. He called me Emmy. He believed in God, and he taught me how to pray to the Lord properly, especially whenever you need something. This is how you should make requests of the Infinite, should you find yourself desperate (via Joe, the Nigerian Prince temping in the bank):

One day at lunch, I told Joe I was getting really nervous about finding a job now that school was done. I was also desperate to move away, and live in the Sonoran Desert for some ungodly reason, and wanted a job there. Joe asked if I was very, very, very serious about this. I said yes I was. 

And then Joe said, "Emmy. If you really wont someting, you must beg Gott. Beg him, Emmy. It is the only way."

"How do I beg God?" I asked.

"You must do it like this," said Joe, "First, you must wait until it is dark. Wait until it is very, very dark. Then, you must take off all of your clothes, Emmy. Take them off! All of them! Then you must turn off all of the lights. Turn them off, Emmy! All of them! Then? You must get on your knees. Get on your knees, Emmy. Get on them! And you must lift both of your hands to the air, and then you must beg. You must beg Gott. And Gott will hear your cries." 

Joe took a sip of his tea and looked at me with a lot of intensity for a few seconds. Then he announced, "This is the only way to get Gott's attention. Nekked. In the dark. Kneeling."

I looked at Joe with amused uncertainty. There were two chairs separating us that day because he'd felt a cold coming on that morning and had eaten an extra bulb of garlic just in case.

"But why do I have to be naked?" I asked.

"Because nekked is your godliness, Emmy! This is how Gott knows you are you. It is your Truth. We are never truer than when we are nekked on our knees before Gott."

I was naive, but not naive enough to not wait for the punch line, for Joe to let me know Gott also would need photographic proof of my naked pleas. But he didn't. Joe just quietly sipped his inky black tea, thoughtfully chewed up the rest of his stinky white garlic, and 20 minutes later we went back to filing car titles and typing in data.

And you know what? Dagnabit if Joe wasn't right! I went home that night and did it. About three weeks later, I was on a plane headed for Yuma, Arizona and my first teaching job.

And you know what else? Sometimes? When it gets really bad? I don't have a problem waiting until it's very dark and the house has gone quiet. I'm not ashamed to admit I've taken off some clothes now and then, gotten on my knees, and...begged. Begged Gott. 

But I will not drink inky black tea from Nigeria and I refuse to eat raw garlic. (The End.)

Now. I told you THAT story so you'd appreciate what I'm about to share below--I'm hoping you may have a good sense of Joe from Nigeria now, so you'll be able to really grasp why at least 3 of these Would You Rather? questions made me chuckle my ridiculous butt off when I found them:

(Nigerian) Would you rather...

....be invisible or able to read minds? I think I'd rather be invisible. You get to see an awful lot of interesting things, and no one's the wiser. I'd rather stay the heck out of some people's minds. 

....end hunger or hatred? Hatred. Because I think once hatred ends, so will hunger.

.....be stranded on an island alone or with someone you hate? It depends on who it is that I hate. Rush Limbaugh? I'll take Solitary Existence. Ted Nugent? I don't know--he's pretty reprehensible, but he's outdoorsy. No! No. I'll just channel my inner Tom Hanks and deal with the learning curve. 

....kiss a horse or lick a cow? Kiss a horse. I'm a Kentucky girl, so I've kissed many a horse in my lifetime, as a matter of fact. It's not bad. They have soft, velvet noses that are perfect landing spots for a kiss. (I wish I could find a far wittier response to this ridiculous question, but the truth of it is: horses are sweet, and deserve our kisses.)

....be trapped in an elevator with a fat lady and her 3 wet dogs or 3 fat men with bad breath? Fat lady and dogs. I suspect these 3 fat men and their breath will all smell of garlic and may attempt to get me to drink some inky black tea.

....make out with the lights on or lights off? (I feel certain Joe himself may have written this question.) Off. I'd make out with the lights off. 

'Cause that's when Gott works the miracles.

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