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A wonderful time up there

Bob Morrissey

Last night I had the strangest dream: I had died and gone to heaven, and instead of being welcomed at the Pearly Gates by Saint Peter, I was greeted by Pat Boone — and he wasn’t even dead yet.

I immediately asked for God. ​

“Sorry,” said Boone. “You can’t see him. Nobody can.”​

I said, “You mean he’s like Greta Garbo?”​

“No, more like Howard Hughes.”​

Noticing my confusion, Boone added, “Picture yourself in a hospital emergency room. It takes an eternity to be seen, right? That’s what it’s like here.”

“Look,” I said, “all my life I’ve prayed to God; even confessed my sins to one of his representatives before the guy got excommunicated. Now that I need him, you say I haven’t got a prayer. Well, I’m not moving till hell freezes over. You should be moving heaven and earth for me.”​

Just then, I awoke with a start. My REM sleep stage had buckled under all those idioms and my bladder was overflowing with Sprite. Maybe a trip to the loo was all I needed to purge Boone from my dream. Or at least replace him with Carly Simon.

No such luck. As I was dozing off again, I heard a cheerful, “I’m back!”


“Leave!” I yelled. No reaction. Maybe an insult would help.

​“By the way,” I said, “I couldn’t stand April Love and I hated Love Letters in the Sand.

“Well, ain’t that a shame,” he fired back.​

“Actually, THAT one I liked … but Fats Domino did it better.”​

Yikes! My dream was getting weirder by the second. Here I am at the Pearly Gates talking to an 88-year-old rocker-crooner who isn’t even dead yet. Wasn’t Boone a health nut? For all I know he could still be singing … or at least humming.​

Little did I know the best was yet to come once I shushed Boone on his way. No, I never got to see God, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t converse with me. ​Come to think of it, he sounded a little like Lloyd Robertson.​

Here’s the thing: I knew God wasn’t going to give me much time, so I got straight to the point.

First question: Was he pleased with how society has evolved: how people today are so politically correct; how reputations and jobs can be lost over accusations not tested in court? I asked him about poverty; about child abuse, about the Canadiens’ rebuild.

It was the child-abuse question that struck a raw nerve.​ “You know,” he said, “if I came back today in human form, I’d probably get arrested for child abuse.”​

Really? How so?

“For letting my son, Jesus, die on the cross.”

“Do you regret it now?”

“How could I? You’re here, aren’t you?”​

I said to myself, under my breath, “Ya, but so are Donald Trump and Céline Dion.”​

“I heard that,” God admonished.​

When I detected a little laugh in his voice, I couldn’t resist asking if most gods had a sense of humour. ​His reply surprised me.

“Does the Pope poop in the woods? Didn’t I create Don Rickles?”​


“Actually,” God added, “you’ve got quite the sense of humour yourself. Remember when you were thinking about reincarnation?”​


“Do you remember praying that you wanted to come back as Warren Beatty’s fingertips?”​

“Yes, but I was serious!”​

Sensing God was in a jocular mood, I told him I had the perfect joke for him. Yes, I realized he already knew the punchline because God knows everything. But remember, this is a dream.​

“Let’s hear it,” he says.

“This young man arrives at the Pearly Gates …”​

God quickly interrupts.

“Was Boone there?”​

“Irrelevant,” I snap. “Please just listen. So Saint Peter asks the man why he thinks he deserves to go to heaven. The man answers that he’s lived a good life; he attended church regularly, he visited priests while they rehabilitated, played bingo during his wife’s six pregnancies and obeyed all God’s Commandments.”

​“That’s all well and good,” said Saint Peter. “But have you ever done anything really COURAGEOUS?”

“Yes,” the young man said. “I saved a woman who was being attacked by two gang members. I jumped out of my car and scrambled down a steep embankment. Then I pulled both guys off her. One was scared and ran away. The other guy wasn’t afraid because he had a knife. It was a bloodbath.”​

All Saint Peter could do was shake his head in awe.​“When did this happen?” he asked.​

“Oh, about 20 minutes ago,” came the reply.​​

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