Paging Miss Manners
Have I mentioned my raging crush on Olivia Hussey? Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet) who first made my heart race. How, how could she speak words of love to that pasty-faced, mealy-mouthed Leonard Whiting? Let's just say I've gotten very good at squeezing my eyes shut during Whiting's stage time. Also, I've developed a preternaturally good sense of timing during the balcony scene, allowing me to unstop my ears for Juliet's, "Swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon." Juliet was a sweetie, but it was Olivia's Mary who won my eternal love.
(Thank Crystal's cool piece on cinema Jesuses for reminding me of Olivia.)Here, I was going to run off at the mouth about how Romeo and Juliet is Juliet's tragedy, and Jesus of Nazareth is Mary's tragedy; but then I realized I don't know crap about Romeo and Juliet, nor do I know much about Christianity. Sure, I read the Gospels in college, just to prove a point to Weyton Tam (a high school friend who was certain I'd convert if I read the New Testament), but when you get right down to it the story doesn't stick to me. I'm sure I'll get the details wrong -- on R&J as well as Testament II -- and I'll have to fall back on that WEAK excuse, "It's my blog and these are my opinions, even if they are based on my imperfect memory of the facts." Well, I don't need anyone's help to make me look like a fool, least of all my own. So instead of drawing ill-advised parallels between Mary and Juliet, I'm going to change the subject and ask your advice on a tangentially related matter.
***A patient called in a few days ago, asking for medication for a recurring problem. I phoned in a prescription for the same medications I've used in the past -- the same ones which have helped her repeatedly -- and I had my receptionist squeeze her into the schedule ASAP. Today. "Hi!" I said. "How are you feeling?" Her boyfriend, she said, took her to his pastor, who "laid on hands and healed me". (Mind you, she'd started the medications the day I phoned them in.) As I proceeded to examine her and pronounce her well, she said, "Oh, thank you, Jesus. Praise Jesus. Thank you Jesus." I kept a civil tongue. "Whatever works," I said. "Have you been saved?" Not even a I hope you don't mind my asking but. There it was, in my lap; and you know, I'm tired of saying, "I'm Jewish," only to be told condescendingly, "Oh, you people are very close to God," or, "The people of the Book! How fortunate for you!" How good for me, even if I am going to hell. Instead, I stupidly went for the funny line. (And it wasn't even all that funny.) "Trust me, I'm beyond salvation." I might as well have bent over. "Oh, Dr. Hoffman, no one's too late for salvation. Never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever." You get the point. But, honestly, what am I supposed to say? I'm a Jew (even if I am agnostic, which my rabbi says is perfectly okay -- I have a Jewish ethos, and that's all that matters. Hey, he's Reformed). I don't believe in salvation, the divinity of Christ, the resurrection, heaven, or hell. I'm unconvinced as to the historicity of Christ. I appreciate the Christian philosophy as embodied in the Sermon on the Mount, but that's as far as it goes. If I were forced to convert, like one of my conversos ancestors, I'd become a Jeffersonian Christian. I'm sure there's a correct answer to my question. Much of Miss Manners' book is devoted to polite responses to rude questions. I've even read an earlier edition of her book, but -- and I know I mentioned this recently -- I have a memory like a sieve. Maybe next time someone asks if I've been saved, I should say, "Yes, thank you very much; the Archfiend Himself has drawn my blood, and I have signed my name upon his parchment; yea, I walk with Belial, with Beelzebub, Lord of the Flies; I cavort with the Prince of Light and Darkness, the Foul Redeemer, the Monarch of Hell; and he has cleft me with his member, cold as winter's ice, and left his mark upon me. How about you?" I mean, if I'm going to be funny, I might as well be funny. D.