Sunday, March 26, 2006


We were at the roller rink, smoking and playing a two-player
game on the double-sided tabletop Pac-man machine. She had
long straight hair, parted down the center and old-school
braces on her teeth. The perfect girl. Even her blue jeans
had that white stitching that I liked.

I came that day to skate, but Pac-man was my domain. I had
the high score, and third, fourth and fifth. My initials,
R.B.J., were etched into roller rink folklore. But she had
the number two spot -- N.V.K. -- and it really burned me up.

"That number two was a fluke," I said, only half joking.

"Not a fluke," she said, exhaling smoke across the screen. "A

Hardly a miracle I thought. Miracles are for lepers and blind
people, not some girl going for a high score at the roller
rink. "How do you figure?"

She laughed, and a piece of gum tumbled out of her mouth.
That was sexy to me back then, a girl who could chew and
smoke at the same time.

"Everything's Jesus," she said. "Think about it."

I thought about it. "Pac-man isn't Jesus. It's Pac-man."

"No, when I play I'm not just a random dot-chomper. I'm a
Christian missionary and the maze is some distant foreign
land loaded with uncivilized natives. Each dot is a soul and
I have to save them all before the devil gets me."

"What about the giant dots?"

"Those are prayers," she replied. "See, I just prayed on a
big dot and now Jesus has given me the power to expel the
devil monsters!"

She believed it; I could see it in her eyes.

We moved on from Pac-man, roller-skating, and innocent
teenage flirting. School, work, life. Love, marriage, kids.
Fights, infidelity, divorce. Hatred, violence, death.

If everything is Jesus, why do I still have the high score?


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