How I broke all the Ten CommandmentsPublished 1:18pm Saturday, July 16, 2011
Column: Pass the Hot Dish, by Alexandra Kloster
“Grab a Bible,” he said.
“We’re fresh out,” I lied.
This joint was lousy with Bibles, and we both knew it.
Friends, when last we met I had declared the Ten Commandments the most important document ever written striking down all my husband Graham’s suggestions as second rate pretenders. I thought I’d won the day, but he pulled a Columbo on me with, “There’s just one more thing. Do you follow those commandments?”
Now here I was, caught between a husband and a stone tablet. I couldn’t back down.
“I don’t need a Bible,” he said. “I remember them.”
“You do?” I was shocked.
“What do you take me for?” he asked looking wounded.
“A benevolent heathen.”
“One,” he started, ignoring me, “I am the Lord thy God. You shall have no other gods before me.”
“I can explain,” I began. “It was 1982. I’d just watched ‘Clash of the Titans’ on free HBO and Harry Hamlin was so convincing as Perseus I thought for sure he must be a god. Plus, there was that mechanical owl. That sealed it.”
“Two,” Graham continued. “Thou shall not take the name of the Lord in vain.”
“Listen. I don’t know where I got my mouth. All I know is I woke up one morning knowing all the swear words, and I wasn’t afraid to use them. It was spontaneous gutter mouth. I remember when it happened because I’d just watched ‘The Godfather Part Two’ on free HBO.”
“Three. Thou shall keep holy the Sabbath day.”
“Can I get partial credit? I developed a bad habit when I was little of coming home from church and watching movies on free HBO. They weren’t always the holiest of movies.”
“Four. Honor thy father and mother.”
“I’m pretty good here, except for that one time I told my mom I was crossing the Mackinac Bridge to become a professional disco dancer whether she liked it or not. It was right after I saw ‘Saturday Night Fever’ on free HBO.”
“Five. Thou shall not kill.”
“Look, bugs need to be sent a message. It’s not personal. It’s business. I realized that right after I saw ‘The Godfather’ on free HBO.”
“Six. Thou shall not commit adultery.”
“It was the long winter of 1981. First I married Ken and Barbie, then Stretch Armstrong and Mrs. Beasley, and then I got crazy and married everybody over and over, but I never divorced anyone. Am I an accessory to adultery or bigamy? I made Superman race around my globe counterclockwise to undo it like in the movie I’d seen on free HBO, but I’m not sure how effective that was.”
“Seven. Thou shall not steal.”
“Finally! I’m solid there. I’m no crook!”
“Eight. Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”
“Does blaming my nephew, Jesse, for everything fall into that category? Yes? But it’s not my fault! Jesse did it! Sorry. Old habits.”
“Nine. Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife.”
“What about boyfriends? I knew my friend next door liked the boy across the street, but after I saw ‘Gone With the Wind’ on free HBO I thought, Fiddle dee dee, why shouldn’t I like him, too?”
“Ten. Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s goods.”
“My friend, Jennifer, had TV in her bedroom and a clicker! She could watch ‘Dallas’ in bed and not have to get up to turn it off. The only kids I knew with such luxuries were in movies on free HBO. Of course I coveted! I coveted hugely.”
I’d gotten one out of 10. Until …
“How did you get so much free HBO?” Graham asked.
“The neighbors ordered it and then we started getting it, too. Magic, I guess,” I answered.
“That’s called stealing not magic,” he said.
Zero out of 10.
“I broke them all before I was 12! I was a sinful child. A bad seed,” I cried.
“No, just an equivocating child. A prevaricating seed,” said Graham consoling me.
“I appreciate you pulling out your GRE vocabulary words to defend me even if you did get me into this mess,” I said.
Then I realized something no movie on free, I mean stolen, HBO could teach me. Graham is always on my side, always, even when he has to leave his own side to get there.
This is our wedding anniversary. I believe it was the great American poet, Madonna, who said, “I made it through the wilderness. Somehow I made it through. Didn’t know how lost I was until I found you.” For me, for today, that’s the most important document ever written because that’s how I feel about Paul Graham. And for this thieving, covetous, murderous, lying, blasphemous child, that’s everything.
Woodbury resident Alexandra Kloster appears each Sunday. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and her blog is Radishes at Dawn at alexandrakloster.com.