Monday, May 3, 2010

Inherit the Earth

Mona Brown was a God-fearin’ woman. A good student in school. She married a minister. Raised five kids on a pittance. Everyone who knew her loved her.

But Mona always envied Tiffany. Tiffany was the Homecoming Queen. Mona used to tutor Tiffany in algebra, geometry, and biology while Tiffany was glossing her toenails.

Mona knew it was a sin to envy Tiffany, but Mona was tired of feeling invisible when all the boys passed her by for Tiffany.

And after Mona married, had kids, and hit middle age, it became a challenge to fit into that size 8 dress.

At her deathbed, surrounded by her children and grandchildren, the bedroom began to fade as she felt her soul pass through a tunnel. When she came out on the other side, everything was misty and white.

Nothing was there, and no one was there except James Mason in a white suit.

She looked down at herself. She still had her nightgown on. She still had the shriveled body of a 90-year-old woman.

Mona: Is this heaven or hell?
Mason: It’s the antechamber to heaven.
Mona: I can’t go to heaven like this. Aren’t I supposed to be glorified or something?
Mason: That’s why you’re in the antechamber of heaven. It’s time for you go to body-shopping.
Mona: Body-shopping? Don’t I just get a newer version of my old body back?
Mason: If you like. But some of the saints were never all that happy with the body they had back on earth. So they swap bodies with the damned. That’s why I offered to take you on a body-hopping, body-shopping, body-swapping tour.
Mona: How does it work?
Mason: If you like, you can browse through our photo gallery, where all the best bodies are numbered, barcoded, and catalogued.

[Mason reaches into his pocket and pulls out a remote]

Or, if you already have someone particular in mind, we can skip ahead.
One decision you need to make is whether you want a full-body swap or just a mini-swap.
Mona: And how does that work?
Mason: Some saints are satisfied with some of their old body parts, but not others. Take legs. You might not want to do a total body swap with Betty Grable. Just below the belt.
Same thing with heads. Right now, Garbo is batting around hell with the head of a church widow from Texarkana.
You can customize your glorified body. Joan Crawford eyebrows. Maureen O’Hara mane. Dolly Parton...well, you get the picture. Why have a tummy tuck when you can have Barbara Eden’s tummy?
Mona: What if two saints want the same body?
Mason: That’s where the Cloning Dept. comes in handy. We have duplicate bodies for popular models. Spare parts.
Mona: Isn’t it unethical for heaven to be running an organ farm?
Mason: The clones are just zombies. They have no soul. Only the damned, who supply the template, have a soul.
Mona: What about the guys?
Mason: We offer the same makeover service for men. For example, ever since Bruce Metzger saw Errol Flynn in Captain Blood, he always wanted to be a movie star. Yet he never had the he-man physique to pull it off, so he became a textual critic instead. But when you bump into a dashing fellow in paradise who looks like Errol Flynn, that’s Bruce Metzger in his glorified body.
Mona: And what does Metzger’s wife look like these days?
Mason: Norma Shearer.
And it’s not all about appearances. Recently we had a shy, soft-spoken curate who always wanted to sing like Franco Corelli. Now he does. Truly the meek shall inherit the earth!
Mona: Where should I start?
Mason: Wherever you like.
Mona: You said something about legs.
Mason: Did you have anyone particular in mind?
Mona: Could I try on some samples?
Mason: [pulling out his cellphone]: Send me up a pair of Cher, Marlene Dietrich, and Betty Grable gams.
Dolores will show you to your fitting room.