Ed Bedford 4 p.m., Dec. 9
When I watch the Twilight Zone, or old horror movies from the forties and fifties, I miss the fact that almost everything terrifying that happened in them was left up to your imagination. Yes, most of the movie monsters of old, when they were finally revealed, left a lot to be desired. But that was part of the fun. Was your date imagining the same thing you were or was everything that was unfolding on the screen entirely subjective? Now only producers', directors', and computer engineers’ imaginations are needed to experience a movie. Audiences can check their own imaginations at the door, which, sometimes, seems rather lazy. Don’t get me wrong, though, at times I appreciate the free ride, not having to think or delve into the seemingly limitless boundaries of my imagination, other times, however, I want to rely on it … but I guess that’s what books are for.
The realities of our fears have escalated dramatically over the years. In the fifties our country’s citizens were almost universally convinced that soon, very soon, the U.S.S.R. would systematically drop nuclear weapons on us, wait for the radiation to subside, and then seize our land as well as our very freedom from the handful of hapless shambling survivors still left alive. The survivors would then, certainly, be rounded up by the red army and herded onto freighter ships bound for Siberia to unwillingly participate in God knows what.
In retrospect, envisioning that dramatic scenario must have been no different than believing that a science fiction movie would eventually come true.
Today, we’re worried that Middle Eastern terrorists are going to activate a dirty bomb in one of our beautiful cities or perhaps blow up our reservoirs.
Terrorists have no interest in occupying our land, only in destroying it, and themselves. This conviction, however, is reserved only for obedient flunkeys that lead such miserable lives in ugly, desolate lands that they have absolutely nothing to lose in killing themselves (Muslim extremists leaders never put their own lives on the line, they’re comfortable convincing their unsophisticated followers to kill themselves, which then elevates the extremist leaders to an even higher level in the eyes of the rest of the dimwitted losers standing in line to commit suicide in the name of religion). They believe, in their skewed vision of religious justice, that for committing murder, God will reward them in the afterlife with 70 virgins. After each virgin has been deflowered, does she instantly, and forever after, return to her ignorant state, or does she reap knowledge with every carnal encounter?
Maybe it’s just me, but I wouldn’t want one virgin for eternity, let alone 70. Give me a woman with experience any day.
And what about the women suicide bombers? Does God give them 70 virgins too? It really doesn’t seem as if a woman, any woman, even a homicidal zealot, would want to grapple with the responsibility of tutoring a virgin: “Okay, kiss me here … and here. Good, good. All right, caress these … yes, that’s good. Now, slowly, put that in here.”
In reality, she probably wouldn’t even bother to teach him anything about sex at all. She’d just make him butcher and then prepare the goat for dinner, wash all the clay dishes and tree branch eating utensils afterward, and then she’d have him use a hot flat rock to iron her burka.
If God wanted to give woman Muslim suicide bombers the ultimate reward, He could just grant them freedom and equality instead.
And really, is God so superficial and uninspired that He equates immortal spiritual reward with nothing but the primitive physical act of sex? I do love sex, but in death, after we leave our physical bodies, don’t we leave all of its limitations and urges behind as well, thereby leaving us free to pursue more philosophical, enlightening, and profound goals? And if we are ever fortunate enough to experience heaven, isn’t it still our responsibility to learn, expand intellectually, and nurture our souls indefinitely until we reach the highest peak of spiritual growth and encompassing love? (I won’t bother with semantics, our God versus their God—God is God, only the interpretations differ.)
And what about the virgins themselves? Do they have a say in the matter? Is being the virginal sex slave to someone for eternity a reward or a punishment? For him, heaven; for her, hell. Perhaps in life, she didn’t conceal herself in head to toe black cloth well enough to suit God, or maybe she had the audacity to allow herself to be raped. Whatever the case, God has made her a submissive seminal ashtray for the good and sainted man who blew 13 innocent people up and severely maimed half a dozen more when he detonated the bomb strapped around his waist. God works in mysterious ways.
I suppose, in the fifties, it may have seemed as if the Soviets actually were going to, at any moment, rain atom bombs down on our heads, but now, especially after our dear Twin Towers were destroyed, the idea that something terrible could happen to our country is all too real.
It seems almost quaint to me that fifties' motorcycle and streets gangs used to settle scores with their rivals armed with nothing more than fists, chains, and switchblades.