Mrs. God looked somehow ageless in her sequined pink taffeta evening gown, posing for paparazzi and kissing babies. Her husband was sitting on the sidelines, a wallflower at his own party. I sidled over to the bar to cheer him up.
"You'd think she was running for president of the United States," God sniffed as he nursed a Shirley Temple. Clearly it was not all marital bliss for the Author of the Universe and his ravishing mate.
"By the way, don't call me 'the Author of the Universe,'" the Lord commanded, having apparently read my thoughts. "It is sooooo King James version. I mean give me a break, I'm not some has-been hack like that Shakespeare geek who they say didn't even write his own plays."
"Who wrote them?" I shot back, pouncing at the opportunity to solve one of literature's most enduring enigmas. "Beats me," God said. "Either it was Shakespeare, or some other dead English playwright. You know what he said -- a rose by any other name..."
Evidently this question had touched a raw nerve. "I get the same crap from the atheists," the Maker complained. "God doesn't exist. God didn't create the universe, blah, blah, blah... You know what I tell them? I say -- either it was me or Ben Jonson, take your pick. That usually shuts them up."
That sounded like a joke, but I dared not laugh at God. As president emeritus of the Agnostic League of Greater Secaucus, I had been chosen by lottery to represent America's religiously undecided at Mrs. God's annual pre-Christmas birthday bash and benefit. "If we believe the theories of the cosmologists," I ventured apprehensively, "the universe didn't need a Creator -- it created itself."
"It's a chicken and egg sort of question," God mused. "Atheists believes in the egg but not the chicken. The religious believes in the chicken, but scramble the egg. You agnostics can't tell the chicken from the egg. It's all bozos on this bus! You've been talking to my better half?" the Deity queried.
"No, why do you ask?" I replied.
"It's just that I get the same questions at home."
"Your spouse is a skeptic?"
"No actually, she is a theologian -- keeps demanding that I prove my own existence. I tell her, that's your job honey. At which point she stomps out of the apartment and takes a cab to Saks."
"That must be rough," I said.
"Not until I get the bill," was God's deadpan reply.
To be frank, the whole situation felt surreal. Could this unassuming male caucasian graybeard sitting on the barstool next to mine actually be the creator and sustainer of the universe? If so, this was the chance of a lifetime. If not, it was still a passably entertaining way to spend a half an hour on a Sunday afternoon. My mind was reeling with questions... What is your favorite color? Is time eternal? Will the Mets ever win the World Series?
"Why don't you ask me about the Big Bang," God prompted helpfully.
"Ok, what about the Big Bang?" I blurted out.
"Who do you think banged the bang in the first place?" the Almighty bellowed, sounding like a cross between Rodney Dangerfield and Steven Hawkings with a megaphone. "Not to toot my own horn, but you are talking to the so-called First Principle himself, the guy who was there before there was a there to be."
"That must have been lonely," I murmured sympathetically.
"Why do you think I got married?" was God's rueful reply.
"Still, there is the whole question of evil in the world," I pressed. "The holocaust for example -- people think that you should have prevented that."
"The wife says the same thing," God said, wincing from the TV lights which were trained on his eye-candy mate. "She tells me, you need to get out and intervene in history more, show them that you care, mix with your own creatures. I tell her, go out and mix with the creatures yourself, dear. That is your strong suit, not mine."
"Are you suggesting that, having created the cosmos, you have now withdrawn from it?" I asked.
"I wouldn't go that far. But it's true that the little lady takes care of all the small domestic details," the Supreme Spirit confided. "While she is out there creating and destroying galactic clusters, I'm more of the big picture guy plugging black holes and keeping time and space from collapsing in upon themselves."
"How do you do that?" I asked.
"Mostly I stay at home and think a lot... Could you pass the tortilla chips?"
"Are you suggesting that everything that exists is merely a thought in your cosmic mind?" I stammered.
"A whim would be more like it," God revealed, with a conspiratorial wink and nod.
"That's scary," I replied.
"Moses said the same thing," God noted with a shrug.
I sensed that the Deity wanted to change the subject. "It is not widely known that you are married," I said. "Could you talk a little about your wife."
"She doesn't listen to me," God replied.
"But why did you choose her in the first place? I mean, what was it that made you choose this woman out of all the gazillion others that must have been available to an eligible bachelor of your high station?"
"I've been asking myself that for the past 13.7 billion years."
"You've been together that long?" I asked incredulously.
"Are you kidding, that was just the honeymoon."
"It must be hard to live with the same woman for all eternity."
"It would have been if she and I didn't take aeons off now and again to dwell in different universes. We give each other plenty of space."
My mind was spinning. Did the Deity have carnal desires like ordinary mortals? Or was this marriage perhaps a symbolic merging of two vast metaphysical principles?
"Does she look like a metaphysical principle?" the Most High shot back having again read my mind. "Boy did she ever knock my socks off way back when!" God reflected wistfully, as his helpmate blew kisses toward a school group bused in from Ann Arbor, Michigan.
It wasn't difficult to see what had attracted him. Mrs. God -- even at her advanced age -- was still a piece of work, and a commanding presence to boot. Yet I wondered what power in the universe had kept the two of them bonded throughout time.
"You know what Ben Jonson said," God offered without waiting for me to actually voice my question. "'Woman begins by resisting a man's advances and ends by blocking his retreat,'"
"That wasn't Ben Jonson, it was Oscar Wilde," I corrected him.
"Six of one, half a dozen of the other," God replied.