Barry Smith: Irrelativity
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
When I was 5 I wanted to know how electricity worked, so I took one of my mother’s bobby pins and stuck it in an outlet.
A minute later my mother walked into the room and saw me dutifully probing an electrical outlet with a piece of metal. She screamed. I jumped. Experiment over. Results: inconclusive.
A smarter kid would have gone to the library and checked out an E-Z-Reader book on Ben Franklin, or asked an adult to explain (the adult, unable to explain, would have then taken me to the library to get an E-Z-Reader book on Ben Franklin). My father had a way of explaining things that went like this:
Me: Daddy, what does “turbocharged” mean?
Him: Turbocharged, son. Turbocharged.
Then he’d go back to reading the paper, as if my question had actually been “How do you pronounce ‘turbocharged?'” and he’d just answered it. Twice.
Anyway, no books or elder-consulting for me – I just shoved a bobby pin into a socket. This is not something I’m proud of, it’s just the way I roll.
Who knows how different my life would have turned out if my mother had given me one more minute in “the lab?” Maybe the inevitable jolt of electricity screaming through my still-developing brain and body would have given me ESP. Or telekinesis. Or X-ray vision. Or at the very least an ability to withstand the whipping with a section of Hot Wheel track that I got that day as punishment for my scientific curiosity.
Or maybe, just maybe, a surge of electricity would have taught me a serious lesson in good judgment, one that would have come in handy years later when someone told me that Jesus had returned and was living in Montana.
Perhaps an electrically enhanced me would have replied, “Jesus? In Montana? Awww, that’s cute. Good luck with that.”
Instead, the electrocution-deprived me said, “Jesus? In Montana? Of course! That makes SO much sense! I’m going to go there right now! Oh, wait, I don’t have a car … I’d better hitchhike! Gosh, what a GREAT idea!”
And so I did. I dropped everything and went to Montana, and I met The New Jesus. Even lived in his basement for much of that summer. Accepted him as my personal Lord and Savior. Really, REALLY thought that he was the return of Jesus, here to usher in the apocalypse. The whole package. I believed things that, when I think about them today, make me want to yell like my mother did on that day. I was living in the basement of a man I was convinced was Jesus! AIIIEEEEEEEEE!!
But that was almost 20 years ago. I no longer live in the basement of Jesus, or any offspring of any deity. I’m better. I’ve grown.
Many years after leaving Jesus’s basement and realizing that I’d wasted three precious years of my life preaching the forthcoming End Days, I vowed to keep this shameful secret under wraps. Nobody must ever know about this skeleton in my closet; that way I can get on with my life without being branded a freak. Oh, wait – better idea – I’ll turn the whole saga into a stage show so I can tell everyone, in detail, and in person, about my finely honed decision-making processes! I’ll even show pictures! ‘Cause I know how to keep a secret. Awesome!
And so I did, and thus was born “Jesus in Montana: Adventures in a Doomsday Cult.” I’ve performed this little show in the valley a number of times, but it’s been a while, and since then I’ve taken it on the road for a few years and honed it (now with extra Jesus!), and now I’m bringing it back.
I still have the VHS tape of The Who’s Farewell Concert that I recorded in 1983. The Who has since made a career out of farewell concerts, so I don’t dare claim that my performance of “Jesus in Montana” next Sunday, July 19, at 7:30 p.m. at the Theatre Aspen Tent in Rio Grande Park will be my last performance of this show in the valley ever. But … you just never know.
Maybe my story has left you with a few questions, like “What the hell were you thinking?” and “What did Jesus look like?” and “Did His basement have foosball?”
All of these questions will be answered in the show. But until then, here’s a hint:
Turbocharged … turbocharged …
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