Maybe it was a blob of mustard, an undigested bit of cheese. Maybe there was more of gravy than of grave with the Lord, but either way, He manifested Himself before me.
I will say this: He looked serene. He was dressed in a cotton oxford shirt, impeccably tailored, and a pair of blue jeans that were perfectly worn to the shape and contour of The Holy One, Blessed Be His legs without looking at all ratty. In His hand was might and power, and the keys to a BMW 7 series. On His brow was wisdom, and a pair of Ray-Bans that, it hardly need be said, fit him perfectly.
"Hello, my son," he said, and His very voice was musical, lyrical, and melodious. "We need to chat, you and I."
"Hey, can this wait?" I asked in my impertinence. "I have to, er, do a thing, see a guy about a thing about another thing..."
"Sorry, no," saith The Lord. "You're stuck with Me for the next little while."
"Well, ok," I said, agreeably enough. "What can I do for you?"
"You're a sinner, a horrible sinner, and I need to discuss your sins with you."
"That's a little harsh, isn't it? Sure, letter of the law and everything, I suppose I'm a sinner, but I'm not that bad. Like how many of the ten commandments have I broken?"
"Oh my...er...goodness," I sputtered. "Are you sure?"
"Shall we go down the list?"
"OK," I said. What are you gonna do, say no to God?
"All right," he said, winding up. "One. I am the Lord thy God."
"I'm an atheist."
"My son, I stand here before you."
"I'll deal with that later."
"Two," He said, moving forward. "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me, nor make any idol."
"OK, well, I do like money, I gotta give you that one too."
"Thou shalt not take the Lord's name in vain."
"Guilty," I said, not even bothering to try to protest.
"Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy."
"A-ha!" I said. "I keep the Sabbath holy!"
"Son," He said with infinite patience, "Sitting on your hinder and refusing to clean out the litter box does not constitute keeping the Sabbath."
I was left precious little time to reflect on the fact that God used the word "hinder" when He continued.
"Five," the Lord plunged forward. "Honor thy Mother and Father." Before I could utter any word of protest or defense He looked down His graceful, aquiline nose at me. "All the time."
"Six," He said. "Thou shalt not Murder. This one, you're clean."
"Thank G..." I started, before remembering Commandment Three. "Thanks."
"Seven," smirked The Lord. "Thou shalt not commit adultery."
"Listen, don't mean to contradict you here, but I haven't."
"Lust in your heart counts, My son," He intoned.
"Oh shit," I said. "Then I've broken that one tens of thousands of times, haven't I?"
"Two hundred forty three thousand, seven hundred nineteen," said God. "I compliment your imagination."
"Thanks - I mean, sorry," I said. I was starting to feel pretty miserable.
"Eight: Thou shalt not steal. Need I remind you of the Cinnamon Gum Incident of 1973?"
It was only too true. When I was four I took a pack of gum off the shelf, not realizing that my Mother would start to wonder where I was getting all this cinnamon gum. She hauled my ass back to the grocery store and made me apologize to the manager. Very humiliating.
The Lord took my silence as an invitation to continue.
"Nine - thou shalt not bear false witness."
"One time," I said. Sheesh. I was ready to testify that my very drunk buddy wasn't the one driving the car he got stopped in. That's what friends do, right? And anyway, I never actually had to do it; they threw the case out before it even came up.
"Ten," quoth the Lord. "This is a three parter. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house..."
"Clean," says I.
"...or thy neighbor's wife..."
"Wow," I said, stung. "So lust in your heart breaks TWO commandments and murder only breaks one??"
"...or thy neighbor's ass."
"Well, if you mean, thy neighbor's wife's ass, then sure."
He paused for a while, observing me with a slow yet deep look up and down.
"My Son," He said, "These are some serious transgressions. What have you got to say for yourself?"
Seemingly without anything else to say, I said the only thing I could say.
He smiled. Even for a non-believer like me that felt pretty good.
"Can't say fairer than that," He said. "My blessings go with you, even though you're an atheist."
"Well, you're probably just indigestion," I smiled. "But it was good talking to you."