A JEWISH GIRL’S GUIDE TO ABSOLUTION IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY

Published in Santa Monica Review – Fall 2019

 

Westwood Jesus can help with your everyday sins.  He’s patient, super nice, and looks exactly like the pictures on those devotional candles you buy on Olvera Street.  A real mensch, my Bobe would say.  When you’re ready to confess, you’ll find him on Westwood Boulevard between the Irish pub and that all-you-can-eat sushi place.  Okay, so sometimes he sounds a little whack.  Like when he says life doesn’t begin until the second trimester so early term D&C’s not murder.  I mean, if that was true, would a former Wilshire Temple Teen Leader break into hives every time she sees a baby?  Would she pull her hair out strand by strand until she looks like one of those monks with the big bald spots?  But he means well, and sometimes that’s enough to quiet the voices screaming “assasino” in your head during your Italian Lit mid-term.  BTW, I’ve totally got that under control now, so please don’t call my mom again.

Bonus tip: Wear gloves to keep from scratching the hives, and hats to cover your bald spot.  Plus, they make a fun fashion statement!

Don’t waste your time with Hollywood Walk of Fame Jesus.  He lets tourists tuck dollar bills under his rope belt like some kind of biblical stripper.  I get that those stigmata tattoos don’t come cheap, but still.  He’d grant absolution for murdering a thousand babies if you paid him enough.  And limited edition Air Jordans, seriously?  I haven’t actually read the New Testament myself, but I doubt the Lamb of God wore expensive kicks when he cast demons out of Mary Magdalen.  Anyway, my mom totally freaked when she saw my IG post at Robin Williams’ star.  Why can’t you be more like your sister Rachel, marry a nice podiatrist and give me grandchildren instead of horsing around with razor blades and ketchup at all hours yada yada.  Um, because I’m a different person, Mom!  Stop judging my art.

Bonus tip:  Minor in Art.  Nothing stops awkward questions faster than saying your performance art professor told you to curl in the fetal position in the closet and cry for three days straight.

Heard that Venice Beach Jesus is cool?  Save yourself the traffic headache.  Burnt out hippie surfer in a ratty bathrobe, all he is.  Can’t even grow a decent beard.  He does this whole thing where he pretends to turn water into wine when really he’s just guzzling cheap chardonnay from an Evian bottle he found on the beach.  Says ridiculous stuff like “Chillax.  The Big Dude is down with that pro-choice shit.”  Not very Christ-y.  And the way he leers, like he knows you’re a fallen woman so what the hell, let’s smoke a blunt and make the beast with two backs.  He actually said that to me once, the blunt and beast part, like I’m some kind of whore of Babylon open for business and damn the consequences because I’m too wicked to save.  So, yeah.  I don’t recommend him.

Maybe you think that cute YouTube preacher is a good bet, the one with all the likes from former Disney stars fresh out of rehab.  Don’t believe his Yelp reviews.  He accepts Venmo, so that’s super convenient and all, but he never actually lifts the stain of eternal damnation from your soul.  Besides, it’s hard to use the keyboard when you’re wearing gloves.  You might end up on a mailing list for zooicide prevention, and trust me, you don’t want those newsletters.

Bonus tip: Bedazzle your gloves and hat with fun designs.  Uber cute, plus they go with the whole Art degree thing.  Example: Why would you wear a wool hat and mittens on an eighty degree day, Dinah?  It’s a neo-Dadaist exploration of the connection between global warming and our consumer culture, Mom!  See what I did there?

If you need hard core saving, Skid Row Jesus is the real deal.  No schtik.  He listens to your confession, really truly listens, start to finish, every time.  Good listening skills are a must in a savior; I mean, you can’t exactly talk to family or your Rabbi about the horrible secret that damns you to eternal hellfire.  Am I right?  And get this: He doesn’t always grant absolution.  That’s what makes him so authentic.  Because when he does, when he peers into the black place Christians call a soul and still says the magic words?  Your heart actually feels light, free, unbound by the horribly selfish act you committed as a Freshman and spent the past five months and eight days wishing with all your being you could take back.  It, they kept saying.  Not it.  Him.  You didn’t see, but you knew.  You felt.  You could have grabbed your clothes and run to your car, locked the doors and slid down in the seat until they stopped looking for you.  But you didn’t.  You stayed and told yourself this is the right thing, the smart thing, you’ll be fine, just fine, totally fine.  But it wasn’t and you’re not and you never will be again.  Then to feel the sun on your cheek and not pray for the earth’s crust to swallow you whole is just, well . . .  Heaven.

As least, you feel free for a week or two.  You might even make it through your nephew’s bris without hyperventilating into a paper bag and your mom looking at you all funny and saying maybe you should start seeing Dr. Grossman again.  I mean, God forbid I should embarrass you in front of your precious friends by showing real emotion instead of fake-smiling in every picture like Rachel.

Anyway.  Yeah.  Skid Row Jesus.  He’s your best bet.

Today I only have twenty minutes between classes.  No time to schlep all the way downtown.  Westwood Jesus to the rescue!  I crouch behind the post box while a couple of drunk Kappa Phi’s dry hump his leg.  He smiles for their selfies, makes the sign of the cross on their foreheads.  Like I said: A mensch.  Takes every bit of strength I have to wait for the guys to stumble into the pub before I fall to my knees at the Messiah’s feet.  I mean, what if they heard my confession and told Josh Cohen?  His mom plays mahjongg with my mom.  I know, right?  I’d die if she found out.

Seriously.  I’d die.