Saturday, September 11, 2004


The Boogey-Man

"So this is heaven," Grisha Perelman says, looking around at the golden streets and sapphire buildings.

"What?" the born-again liberal woman says.

"This is it," Grisha says. "What we wondered about all our lives."

"Oh. Did we really?"

"Of course."

"And you're sure it's--that place? That same place you--we--wondered about?"

"Pretty sure, yeah."

"How were you supposed to get to heaven?"

"You were supposed to be a good person. Obey the Ten Commandments. Not lie. Not take the Lord's name in vain. Not commit adultery."

"Did you do those things? I mean, avoid doing those things?"

"Well, no."


"So ... well, there's divine forgiveness for sins. If God forgave you, then you went to heaven when you died."

"So did you die?"

"Not exactly. I got sucked up through a hole that appeared in the space-time continuum."

"And did the stories about heaven talk about holes appearing in the space-time continuum?"



"I know," Grisha says. "Let's check it."


"Ask somebody."


"Excuse me," Grisha says to the first man they pass in the street, "but could you tell me--hey, you're Adolf Hitler!"

"That's right," says Hitler.

"Well damn, then," Grisha says, looking troubled. "This can't be heaven."

"Why not?" the woman says.

"Sure, it's heaven," Hitler says.

"But--" Grisha starts.

"But I killed six million Jews, and was the signature madman of the twentieth century, so if I'm here, it's got to be hell?" Hitler smiles.

"Uh, yeah," Grisha says.

"Forget all that stuff you learned in shul," Hitler says. "It's just heaven. It ain't paradise."

"Uh, okay," Grisha says.

"Be seeing you around," Hitler says.

"Sure," Grisha says.

"So," the woman says as they watch him walk away. "He killed six million Jews?"

"Yeah," Grisha says. "Your hero."

"What's a Jew?" the woman says.

"I am," Grisha says. "That was the boogey-man. That was the guy I spent most of my life secretly afraid of."

"But I thought he was great?" the woman says.

"Yeah," Grisha says. "Secretly."

"Oh," the woman says.

"What is your name?" Grisha says, waving his arms a little impotently.

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