“A member of St. Nicholas Catholic Church portrays Jesus while riding a lawn mower during the parade.”
The picture above and its caption appeared in the local weekly, the Mystery Island Slack Tide, a newspaper that at times rises to sublime heights of comedy proofreading, so insane and so often that I haven’t saved the mistakes over the years. This is typical of me, a person who cannot even remember simple jokes. Sometimes humor is best served by avoiding the obvious, however, and the Slack Tide’s Hilarious Headlines would be best served up in, say, Proctor’s Planet. But, proofreading isn’t the entire point here, there are deeper matters afoot.
Point being, as the Big Blonde Babe often says, point being the picture. You just can’t get something funnier than this picture on any number of levels. And look at the look on his face. When I first peered at him, I thought he might be slightly smiling behind the Insane Fake Beard, but now I think he’s uncomfortable, unsure of himself, perhaps hovering between a peremptory wave to his wife and daughter and a horrible sense that time is passing at an incredibly slow rate. And this Jesus has on a gold bracelet or watch and, best of all, sunglasses. The fact that he’s dragging a cart full of depressing Spring flowers makes it unseasonal for Christmas, but what the hell. It’s Jesus and the holiday is, if nothing else, named for him.
In other words, for most of us, of course, The Holiday has nothing to do with Him at all. It’s a cheerful Native Festival based around a yearly potlach-modeled gift/blackmail wealth distribution system, featuring a kind of display of ancient music forms with incomprehensible lyrics and legendary figures with or without red noses and features best of all, the worship of the real hero, the reason the whole thing should be called Santamas anyway.
Why it’s Christ’s mass, we’re not sure, most of us. But if you ask us about Santa, we’re with you. We know why it’s Santa’s mass. Every credit card in our depleted wallets knows why. I think that’s one reason that the picture is so disconcerting. If Santa were riding a lawn mower, we would immediately understand. They got the wrong guy on the mower and our Member is understandably confused, perhaps, as are we.
As well, we are assured that the person pictured is not Jesus Himself, but a Member portraying Him WHILE RIDING A LAWN MOWER. That’s the key point, the proofreading point, the editing point. A point worthy of capitalization.
Is The Member portraying Jesus while he, himself, is riding the lawn mower, or is he portraying a Jesus who is Himself riding the lawn mower? It’s not a minor point. This opens up a world beyond proofreading. Followers of Jesus will be quick to point out that He can do many more miraculous things than simply riding a lawn mower, in other words it’s perfectly plausible that Jesus might have ridden one, nothwithstanding the tremendous disparity in Time between the supposed death of Jesus and the commercial availability of the lawn mower. Think of the few things your santa-pagan brain knows about Jesus: water to wine, loaves to fishes or vice versa – whatever – and that whacky coming back from the Dead and not even mentioning the virgin birth thing. He might have created a lawn mower from a frog, he might have transported himself into a Future where a Time Traveler a little too large for the lawn mower still rode one. You can’t win this argument, and don’t bother.
On the other hand there’s the perfectly plausible argument from the even-handed Absent Proofreader that we’re merely looking at a guy dressed up as Jesus who is PORTRAYING Him while at the same time trying to drive a lawnmower downhill in front of townspeople while dragging a cart behind, blinded by the sun and wearing essentially a dress and a false beard and a wig. This in itself would be a considerable accomplishment, and the Slack Tide’s photographer has understandably not caught the intense pressure that would be felt by the innocent Member who is – at the same time – portraying someone who essentially commits suicide for the pleasure of a Guy who theoretically fathered him without actually penetrating Mom.
It’s all fraught with problems, it’s all deeper than it looks. In defense, over the years, I’ve come up with an antidote to the problem of Jesusers feeling slighted by Kwanzites, or Hebrites, or Pagites or Musites horning in on a holiday they consider theirs by virtue of an accident of nomenclature. My Holiday Peacemaker is called; “Let’s Put Jesus Back in Christmas.” And my plan involves simple lyric changes: When you peruse the following list, you’ll probably want to come up with some of your own.
“It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Jesus”
“I Saw Mommy Kissing Jesus”
“O Come All Ye Jesus””
“O Little Town of Jesus”
“Walking in a Winter JesusLand”
“Here Comes Jesus, Here Comes Jesus,
Right Down Jesus Lane”
“Jesus We Have Heard on High”
“Deck the Halls with Boughs of Jesus”
“God Rest You, Merry Jesus”
Gather the kids, round up the neighbors, write in the changes on the sheet music and set out for some caroling.
Got a lawn mower? Ride it. ’tis the season.