Dining with the Devil
I don’t think I’ve actually been in a coffee shop in a really long time. I don’t know why that is. What this means is that I don’t actually know if coffee shops still sell gum and Life Savers.
But in olden times (the 1970s), they did. It was always in the glass counter beneath the cash register. I guess the logic was that you’ll probably want to buy something minty to cover up that putrid breath you’ll have after eating their miserable food.
When we went out to eat when I was a little kid, I would always beg for gum or Life Savers as we were paying the bill. I didn’t actually want the gum or Life Savers; it was just a Pavlovian response to stimuli. My mother would always refuse (I think that was her Pavlovian response to my stimuli.). She’d say “You just ate! You can’t possibly want any more.” Her track record on this was impeccable. She never bought the gum. At least she stuck to her principles.
Through the technology of blogging, we will now jump the story forward 8 or 10 years. I was now in my mid-teens, and I was out with my mother one day. I don’t know where the rest of the family was; it was just us. Maybe she had taken me out to buy clothes or something. Somehow we wound up at Denny’s. Those were the days before they sexualized their menu. It was just regular food.
The waitress brought the bill and departed. My mother picked it up and said “Oh! It comes to $6.66!”
I think I was only vaguely aware of the number of the beast at that age, so I wasn’t fazed. My mother said “Some people think that if your bill comes to $6.66, your money goes straight to the devil!”
I thought that was quite humorous. I wasn’t even sure why the devil would want our money. Maybe once he collects enough of it, then he can buy somebody’s soul with it.
She then told me the story of one of her friends, who was highly religious. It seems this friend was driving a little too fast on the freeway one day, and she got herself pulled over by the CHP.
(I don’t know if they all carried their nightsticks in this manner.)
The cop gave this woman a speeding ticket. Then she looked at her odometer. The last three digits were 666! Satan made her speed!
I thought this was also quite humorous. My mother seemed to think it was funny, too. She certainly didn’t give me the impression that she took any of it seriously.
My mother considers herself Christian. She’s just not one of those church-going Christians. She’s not even a “Christmas & Easter” Christian. She’s probably a “too-much hassle” Christian.
That wasn’t always the case. She is, after all, the one who dragged me to frickin’ church every frakkin’ Sunday morning between the ages of 5 and 10. Then she suddenly lost interest in my moral development, and I never had to go to church again! In the absence of God’s guidance, I’ve been killing puppies and shoving old ladies in front of buses ever since. Don’t be like me. Stay in church, kids!
Anyway, we had finished our lunch at Denny’s, so we went to the front register to pay the bill. I thought it would be slightly amusing to watch my mother pay her “soul tax” to the devil. But what does she do?
She said “I’d also like to buy a pack of gum!”