I used to travel. I remember once buying a ticket thinking I was going to Mexico, but ended up in Israel.
I thought “El Al” was just a very popular Hispanic surname.
On the plane, the flight Attendant asked me if I needed anything. Of course, I said yes. “How about the keys to my handcuffs? I have to go to the bathroom.”
When I got to the bathroom, someone was already in it, of course. But it didn’t say “Occupied” on the door. Instead, it read, “Disputed Toiletry Area.”
On my way back to my seat, I discovered the Israelis gave my seat away, to a settler.
Before Sept. 11, no one bothered with me. Most people just walked right past, except for one kind of person.
Jesus freaks. These are the bald, religious fanatics dressed in long white and pink robes who hang around airports and beg for money.
“Hey, man. Can you spare a dollar for Jesus?”
The question always makes me angry and I scream back, “A dollar for Jesus? What the Hell does Jesus need a dollar for? He’s in Heaven sitting on the right hand side of the Man, man!”
But I wouldn’t stop there because I despise these religious fanatics.
“As a matter of fact,” I continue, “Jesus owes me money!”
I proceeded to tell him my story, for free.
No respect for Jesus
My mother is from Bethlehem. She lived right next door to Jesus’ family, long before the family changed their name from the Chris’s to Christ. The wildest kid in the family was Jesus Chris.
He was an outgoing, wild party guy. He was a real hell-raiser who you never wanted to cross, always wearing sandals, long robes and shoulder-length hair.
Jesus and his gang, The Disciples, would hold all-night toga parties that started on Monday and they’d last six days. They’d drink wine and do weird things like jump from mountaintops and walk on water. Of course, by Sunday, he’d sleep in all day, saying, “This is a day of rest, man.”
But even walking on water never got Jesus any respect from the neighbors, just a lot of jealousy and criticism. When they would see him walk on water, the neighbors would observe cynically, “Look, he can’t even swim.”
Jesus also had a dog. All day long, he’d yell at the dog until it would run away from home. And then every night, Jesus would be out in his robes calling out into the wilderness, “Satan. Satan. Come home Satan. I forgive you.”
My mom always said it was because he came from a broken home. She always felt sorry for him.
Jesus would also come by and ask to borrow my dad’s carpentry tools. And he borrowed our lawn mower. He still has them all. Never returned them.
They don’t have lawns in Bethlehem. It’s all sand!
‘I’m Tony Soprano, ma’am’
Then one day, Jesus got famous. Something about feeding a thousand people with one loaf of bread. Where we come from, that’s called being stingy.
That’s when they changed their name.
My mom used to tell me how Jesus’ brother James would come by and complain about all the attention his brother was getting. “It’s Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Always about Jesus. No one ever cares about me.” James later changed his name to Brady, James Brady.
“So if you see Jesus,” I tell the Jesus freak at the airport who is in shock by now, “remind him that my mom wants those carpentry tools and lawnmower back.”
A dollar for Jesus? I’ll give you a dollar for Jesus.
Well, those were the days when I could travel. Since Sept. 11, I haven’t traveled that much at all. But I still like to go to the airport. Dressed in black. Just to hang around and scare the heck out of people.
The Jesus freaks don’t bother me any more, and I’m smart enough now to stay away from El Al.
But occasionally, Americans come up to me and always ask me the same question.
“Are you on my flight?”
I try to be polite and explain, “I’m Tony Soprano, ma’am, the TV Mafia boss.”
They sigh with relief and reply, “Thank Heavens you’re a mobster. I thought you were one of those Ay-rabs.”