Monday, November 15, 2004
Bob Jones stands by the coffee pot, drinking cup after cup--to calm his jittery nerves, or to pretend that he doesn't need to calm his jittery nerves, that he isn't weirded out of his tiny mind by the gods here in the studio with him, working on his speech to President Bush. Hermes is writing the text and giggling madly. Sun Myung Moon is fiddling with Satan's Yahweh suit, adjusting the wig and the beard, twiddling the voice-box dial till it sounds exactly like Jesus. The scarab beetles swarm over everything, not just Sun Myung Moon and his wife with the unpronounceable hacky-whacky jaw-breaker name. The engineers ignore them, or flick them off a switch they have to flip.
"How about this?" Hermes says, holding up the paper with a wicked gleam in his eye. "'In your re-election, God has graciously granted America--though she doesn't deserve it--a reprieve from the agenda of paganism.' You gotta love that one, huh? Like he doesn't really know what paganism means, thinks it's the same thing as atheism--and it's written by the greatest pagan god of all!"
"Yes, yes," Sun Myung Moon says irritably, "we know you're clever. Get on with it."
"Okay," Hermes says. "It goes on: 'You have been given a mandate. We the people expect your voice to be like the clear and certain sound of a trumpet. Because you seek the Lord daily, we who know the Lord will follow that kind of voice eagerly.'"
"What the fuck?" Satan says. "The Lord will follow some mere mortal's voice?"
"Pay attention, Satan," Sun Myung Moon says. "Not the Lord will follow the voice. We who know the Lord will follow the voice."
"Oh," Satan says. "So is that when I come in?"
"I still think it's better for him to be next to the Bobster from the beginning," Hermes says. "Walking in right in the middle of the speech makes it look like Jesus just happened to be passing by."
"But why would Jesus just sit there quiet next to Joe Blow listening to him talk?" Sun Myung says.
"Bob Jones," Satan says.
"Sitting there beneficently," Hermes says. "Or what's the word, beatifically. And at the end, he says 'Hi, my name is Jesus Christ, and I approve this message.'"
"I don't like it," Sun Myung says.
"So what does the Bobster say?" Hermes says, looking up at the college president comically.
Bob Jones spills his coffee all down his shirt. "Fuck!" he yells. An intern dabs at the shirt. Bob Jones holds the fabric away from his skin, starts unbuttoning buttons. Clearly, he's going to have to change. This is TV.
But Hermes can't stop. He's fascinated by the dumb ordinariness of the name Bob Jones. "Bob Jones. Bob Jones. Bob. George. Dick. Why do all these people sound like characters in a children's book? Do you have a dog named Spot, Bob? Do you have a pair of square pants?"
"Enough," Sun Myung Moon says testily. "Was that the end of the speech?"
"Uh, no," Hermes says. "Here's the end: 'Don't equivocate. Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ. Honor the Lord, and He will honor you ... If you have weaklings around you who do not share your biblical values, shed yourself of them.'"
"Yeah," Sun Myung Moon says, "that'll do."
"I like the sneer at weaklings," Satan says. "That's in line with the new Jesus we're creating. The fascist leader, not the faggot liberal."
"You don't think the cooking image makes Bobolink sound womanish?" Hermes says. "I mean, what does a real man like Bob Jones know about cooking, right?"
"No," Sun Myung Moon says, "Bob Jones isn't doing the cooking. It's like something a guy might say to his wife when he comes in from hunting, or fixing the car, or beating the kids. 'Move that pot up to the front burner, I'm fucking hungry.'"
"Okay," Hermes says, "so then George Bush is the wife?"
"Whatever," Sun Myung Moon says.
Somewhere the intern has found Bob Jones a new shirt. He's tying his own tie, like a real man. His eyes scan the room: the scarab beetles clicking and clacking over everything, Satan practicing sincere facial expressions in a mirror, Hermes putting the moves on some thirtyish associate producer ... and his heart sinks. What has he gotten himself into? But no, he tells himself: buck up. This is for God. This is for moral values. This is for America.
And that last is the magic word. It puts new iron in his backbone, new bounce in his stride. He takes his place with confidence.
And then, what the hell--he gets an erection. It's under the table where no one can see it, but still--how can he concentrate on what he has to say with Little Bobby throbbing? He glances around furtively. Nobody's looking at him, except Satan, and his gaze is, well--beneficent. Even beatific. He's got the look down, now; has put the mirror away. But why does that look creep him, Bob Jones III of Bob Jones University, out?