Originally published in Sidewalk Surfer magazine, around 1998.
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[DDET Uncle Someone’s World of Something: Does God Exist?]
“Uncle Someone,” one of my skate nephews might say, “does God exist?”
Well I’ve been asked this enough times now, it’s time I found out the truth. God is an old mate of mine, so I thought I’d ask the man himself.
“Do you exist?” I said rather precariously to him one lazy afternoon.
“Good question.” He replied, “Ever since the Seventies I haven’t quite known myself.”
I was confused. “What happened in the Seventies then?” I asked, wondering if drugs were involved.
God picked up my thoughts and barked his reply, “Drugs were not involved.” after a short pause, He said “It was TV.”
I was even more confused then. “So you watched TV and decided that you didn’t know if you existed anymore?” This couldn’t be true.
“No, I watched TV and decided that it wasn’t worth me existing anymore.” He looked me straight in the eye and continued, “It was two programmes that did it actually. A cartoon series called Mr Ben and a skateboard film, I think it was called Hot Wheels.”
I began to think that maybe drugs had been involved, but I did my best not to let the thought materialise – I didn’t want to make the Big Man angry…
He carried on, “As usual, I was watching all the TV stations in the World at once, when an episode of Mr Ben came on. It was fantastic. Watching this guy go into a clothes shop wearing a suit, and then he would put on some different clothes from the racks each week. By putting on these clothes he would be magically transported to the time and place where the clothes came from. One week he was an Roman soldier, next week an astronaut, the week after he would be an intrepid jungle explorer. Bloody marvellous!”
I dimly remembered this program myself, but it hadn’t had this profound effect on me. On telling Him this he replied, “Aha! But you didn’t see it the way I did. With this Mr Ben character, for the first time in my life I saw someone who had a better job than me! Each week something amazing would happen, a fantastic adventure, but by the end of the program he would be able to put his suit back on and go home a happy man – what freedom!”
“But Mr Ben was only a cartoon, and-”
He interrupted me abruptly, “ONLY A CARTOON! How dare you say that you non-believer. What’s this then – ONLY a conversation we’re having, ONLY a sentence you’re writing, ONLY a column in Sidewalk? They all exist don’t they?”
I had to admit He was right, so I decided to move on “Well okay. So you liked Mr Ben the cartoon, but it doesn’t explain why you don’t think that it’s worth you even existing anymore. I just don’t know what you mean.”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to shout. Anyway, I’d just made the decision that I was going to give up my job and become Mr Ben. I had everything set up. Mary was going to take all the houses and cars, Jesus didn’t want anything so I said he could have my job, Moses was going to look after the garden – I had it all sorted.”
Rather impatiently I asked “Yes, well, what happened?”
“Then I just saw this film, a skateboard film called Hot Wheels. It changed my life forever. I hadn’t paid much attention to skateboarding since its’ invention 20 or so years before, but then, right before my eyes, mankind had transformed it into something magical, something incredible, limitless. You see, I’d just decided that being Mr Ben was the best job I could have, when this skateboarding came along. It was even better. And it wasn’t even a job, it was a … it was … it …”
Gods eyes glazed over and he looked at the Heavens. It’s not often I’ve seen him speechless. After all he invented speech. Yet I could tell that this was truly important. A defining moment.
Snapping out of it, he continued, “When I invented mankind, I programmed a simple and well-meaning destiny for them. They were to find a partner, build a family and a career, and if they worked hard enough, they would discover me at the end of it. But this skateboarding thing was something else. I didn’t plan it. It was out of my control. Skateboarding was way superior to the simple destiny that I had planned for humans. It was more fulfilling, more real and alive. The skateboard had become the ultimate urban device, I had accidentally created the key to mankind’s’ escape. I just couldn’t believe it. What’s more, I had undermined myself, I had lost control. Mankind was now my rival, my equal. Can you see my problem? For me to exist was a joke. I had invented mankind, and they had created something that was even better than me.
I just had to stand down.”
Which brings us back to today. Nowadays I just potter about on my mini-ramp and check out new skate videos. I can see now that mankind can look after itself, so I suppose I did a good job after all.”
I waited a few moments. It’s quite breathtaking to hear a man of Gods’ stature describe his own downfall. Sheepishly I asked, “So, do you exist then, or don’t you? Sorry but I still don’t get it.”
His reply came slowly, “Well, if I had to say yes or no, I guess I’d have to say no I don’t exist. At least not in the sense that I used to. I’ve gone from being the Ultimate Being, to just, well, an interesting concept I suppose. Quite a step down really.”
How can someone tell you they don’t exist?
I’d had enough of this talk, I was beginning to wonder about my own existence. His answer would have to do, I’d describe it to my nephews somehow…
God and I had a tall drink, and then chilled out with an old-school session on his mini-ramp until the sun dipped below the hills.