My good buddy Mike was hunched over his drink at a downtown bar, looking as if he'd just gotten bad news from an X-ray. It was actually even worse than that.
His first marriage had flat-lined and his second marriage was in extremely critical condition, so he was softening the edges with a little Jack Daniels. I was his wingman that night.
A baseball game was playing on the overhead TV, and before stepping into the batter's box a wiry little player paused, closed his eyes, murmured a quick prayer and made the sign of the cross.
Mike watched it happen, and for a moment his own problems vanished. He mashed out his Marlboro, took a slug of whiskey and wondered out loud:
"Why would God help anyone hit a baseball?"
That question still echoes in my ears, thirty years after Mike asked it.
And the echo intensified this past week, when Gisele Bundchen sent out an e-mail asking her friends to pray for her husband's success in the Super Bowl.
That would be Tom Brady, quarterback for the New England Patriots.
What went wrong? Pay attention, Gisele.
I'm eminently qualified to analyze this situation, having been -- in this order -- a devout Catholic, a regular Catholic, a doubting Catholic, a former Catholic and (currently) an agnostic.
Here's the deal: If there is a God, He's got some pretty big problems going on these days, such as poverty, plagues and starvation.
The rich tend to treat God like a waiter at a five-star restaurant -- someone to be summoned to handle the slightest little problems, such as insufficiently chilled sparkling water.
So when a wealthy supermodel has the audacity to pray for help for her ridiculously well-paid superstar athlete husband... well, you can't blame the waiter for spitting in their food back in the kitchen.
To paraphrase my old buddy Mike:
"Why would God help anyone throw a touchdown pass?"
By the way, the baseball player who said that quick prayer before stepping into the batter's box thirty years ago popped up to end the game. My friend Mike got divorced for a second time. He died six years ago.
Sorry about all this dreary stuff. You want a happy ending? Rent a movie. I'd suggest The Greatest Story Ever Told.
Charlie Carillo's latest novel, Found Money, is available on Amazon Kindle for 99 cents. His website is www.charliecarillo.com. He's a producer for the TV show Inside Edition.