Issue #191 – “Bye God” – July 25th, 2011

-Recently someone told me that they had gone back and reread every single issue of this column – dating back nearly fourteen years – and realized I had not made one single mention of my religious beliefs. I was more shocked that someone had so much free time than about the revelation that I’ve never ruminated on religion. The explanation for that is simple: I have no religious beliefs. I’ve never mentioned it before because, quite frankly, it’s not something I think about much. That’s actually part of the beauty of being an atheist – you get to spend a lot less time judging, praying, and picturing heaven, and a lot more time drinking, fucking, and raising hell.

-In 2003, I was taking acting classes in New York. Every chick was gorgeous and smoked obsessively. I’ll never forget the day one of the girls told me she had finally given up cigarettes. When I asked her how she did it, she absent-mindedly fingered the cross dangling between her massive breasts and said matter-of-factly, “By the grace of God.” And that in a nutshell sums up what I don’t get about religious people. They don’t even give themselves credit when they deserve it! God didn’t help her kick Camel Lights, she did it herself. Just like God didn’t give her those tits, a plastic surgeon did.

-I was a nonbeliever even at a young age. I remember when I first heard the story of Passover and the ten plagues. I was like, this makes no fucking sense. Why is God murdering cattle and baby Egyptians? Why doesn’t God just kill Pharaoh and eliminate the middleman? To this day I still have not been given a reasonable explanation, which is just as well because I no longer give a shit.

-As an adult, I’ve discovered that being an atheist often means just having to grin and bear it. In April, Time magazine – one our nation’s most respected publications – ran a blaring cover story that read: “What if There’s No Hell?” I mean, seriously? The article could have been one sentence long: “There’s not and we’ll be totally fine.”

-I will never understand people who refuse to date outside their faith. You know what’s more important than your significant other sharing your beliefs? That he or she has the same cell phone. You ever date someone who had an iPhone when you had a BlackBerry or vice versa? The apps are different, you can’t BBM, it’s a nightmare. It’s 2011, people. Stop worrying if your religions are compatible and start worrying if your software is.

-My buddy Tony is a devout, church-going Catholic and when I told him I don’t believe in God he thumbed his nose at me and said, “I bet there’s a lot of atheists in Los Angeles; it’s such a hedonistic culture.” Really? I mean you gotta hand it to believers: one moment they’re just dismissing an entire city out of hand and the next moment they’re eating God’s body and drinking his blood.

-I bet that if you cornered every educated, urban thirtysomething, most would concede that there is not in fact a man (or woman) in the sky who created the planet and listens to billions of people’s prayers at once. Some will say that they’re not religious, they’re “spiritual.” To which I say: that’s fucking worse. At least take a stand one way or the other. And please don’t add, “I just think there has to be something more.” Why? Why does there have to be something more? Why can’t you just be happy with what you have? Our time here is precious, so smoke if you got ‘em. But don’t blame God if you don’t.

-As always, here are some random things I’ve been ruminating about lately…

-Watching other people run for president is exhausting.

-I just got the blood work back from my annual physical exam. Everything is fine except for my triglyceride levels, which are a little high. The doctor recommends I cut down on alcohol and sugar, and start taking fish oil supplements. So what I’m gonna do is absolutely nothing and hope for the best.

-The other day my buddy said to me, “Hit me up on plus” – referring to Google+. I was then forced to join in order to post to his profile that he should never ever use that fucking phrase again.

-I don’t get why people love the boarding process on Southwest. I much prefer to know where I’m sitting ahead of time instead of being forced to march down the aisle past a bunch of shabbily dressed strangers who refuse to make eye contact. It’s like a communal flying walk of shame.

-The concept of “Summer Fridays” still boggles my mind. So you just get to take off half of every Friday from work? How is that good for business? Is there magically less work to do in July? People who work in offices are strange. And that’s coming from a man who hasn’t worn pants during the day in nine years.

-Since I was born in 1979 I feel like I often get the shaft when generations are determined. I don’t like being included in Generation X. Those people are creepy and old. I wanna be in Generation Y with all the cool kids.

-Nothing is more emasculating – for either party – than a dude asking another dude what one of his tattoos means.

-My creaky knee has started to flare up on the treadmill again. On one hand, I feel like I should stop running so I don’t injure it further. On the other hand, I’m worried that if I don’t work out I’ll turn into one giant triglyceride.

-And, finally, two of my most popular columns ever are The Legend of Zelda and The Legend Continues, in which I interviewed my Grandma Zelda about dating, prohibition, and other issues of her day. I’m saddened to report that Zelda passed away peacefully in April, a few months shy of her 100th birthday. While her death was not entirely unexpected, she was the matriarch of my family and my last living grandparent, and she will be deeply missed. Since I interviewed her earlier in the year, I was fortunate to have had one final conversation with her while she was still alert. She always enjoyed when I wrote about her and she was buried with a copy of the column. Of course, as an atheist, I don’t believe in the afterlife or that Grandma is somehow watching down upon us (if she was she’d probably ask for some better reading material). But that doesn’t mean it’s not important to honor her memory. Zelda led a remarkably long life and had an incredible sense of humor. If I’ve inherited even one of those two things, I’d consider myself lucky. Fuck me.