A voice in the night called my name.
“Greg…. Greeeeg…” it wailed..
It sounded troublingly familiar, like something or someone that I once loved and lost – but the voice was so soft and muffled that it barely made it through the bedroom wall from the garage.
I realized who it was.
It was the pail of chocolate chip ice cream that I had banished to the freezer in the garage.
During my annual physical, my doctor warned me that my blood pressure was too high, my cholesterol level was stratospheric and my blood sugar level had entered low earth orbit.
He gave me a choice. Either he could fix it with drugs or I could fix it with diet and exercise. That was three weeks ago and now a pail of chocolate chip ice cream was calling my name.
I have only so much will-power and ice cream has so much more. I know it was stronger than I – but I didn’t get my ears boxed by nuns for 12 years for nothing. I knew just what to do.
I prayed to my guardian angel.
“Please, please, please, help me avoid temptation…”
And he answered my prayers.
It was quite a shock– since we had not spoken in years.
It is not that I had been particularly good for all that time – rather it is that I had not been particularly bad and when I was bad it was in all the usual ways – doing things he had given up on long ago.
“I suppose I could do you one last favor,” he said.
“Last?” I asked.
“I am retiring,” he announced.
“Really? And just when I was getting easy.”
“You were never easy,” he said.
I knew he was right but I couldn’t avoid the temptation to fish for a compliment – but that is just it, I could never avoid temptation.
“So what was the worst thing I did?”
“Worse for you or worse for me?” he asked.
We both knew the answer to the first, so he filled me in on the second. “Remember when you and your buddies skipped church to go hop trains?”
That was Stan’s idea.
“Well, it was supposed to turn out badly for you. I had to pull strings.”
“Sorry about that.”
“When an angel petitions for an event to be altered, he has to cover all the things that depend on that event. The paperwork is horrendous and the meetings are endless. You have to go through a process like that to truly understand eternity.”
“I said I was sorry.”
“Yeah, but now you are really in for it and I don’t have the energy to get you over the next hump.”
“Is it that bad?”
“So what’s the temptation?”
“I think you know….”
“Chocolate chip ice cream?”
“No,” he said, “but that might be a clue.”
As he spoke, he began to fade, first like a melting fog then like twilight in a forest. Just before he vanished, he whispered good-by in a voice as ancient and forlorn as the moan of a dying star.
His voice was quickly replaced by another, more eager, voice.
“Who are you?”
“It’s your old friend temptation.”
The voice sounded too much like my buddy Stan.
“Go ahead,” I told him, “take your best shot.”
The room instantly filled with the scent of pipe tobacco and warm brown ale. It reminded me of the country pub in Kent England where I had my first real beer. If I had not run out of money, I would still be there.
“That’s not going to work,” I told him, “These days, I get indigestion by my second beer. I just don’t have the stomach for alcohol anymore.”
Another fragrance wafted in on the breeze. It was perfume – belonging to Darcy, the sexist woman I have ever known…. and the craziest. I flinched…. it was the natural defense that all males use whenever Darcy gets too close.
“So what else do you got?” I asked.
“The greatest temptation of them all,” he said.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“Nothing,” he said.
“Nothing,” he said, “just put your feet up, turn on the big screen TV and do nothing….. absolutely nothing.”