It’s probably no surprise that I’ve been getting emails about the First Church of the Intergalactic Fruitbat Steve, given how much joking, joshing, and general tomfoolery has taken place both online and in public on this spiritual subject. So a little bit of context is due.
Picture it: The Paranormal Bender Tour, Day One. March 10, let the record reflect. After a late start to our travels, Mark, Mario, Caitlin and I found ourselves approaching California. There upon the border, we spied a fruit checkpoint. Yes, a fruit checkpoint. Looks like a toll booth. Makes everybody stop before crossing that blessed state line, and be subjected to an interrogation on the subject of fruit.
I had never heard of such a thing.
At first I thought this was some kind of weird pop quiz, like before you’re allowed to come into California you must demonstrate that you know the difference between an orange and a clementine, with bonus points for correctly identifying a nectarine, or something like that. Since I am from Florida where we also grow a great deal of fruity-type substances, I was pretty confident of my ability to pass such a quiz, and therefore suspected that I’d be an excellent spokesperson in the event of tollbooth citrus Jeopardy.
In fact, the point of this checkpoint is to make sure that we, as ostensibly law-abiding citizens, were not bringing unauthorized fruit into the state of California. I had no idea there was any such thing as “unauthorized” fruit, much less that California would be so vigorously on guard against it.*
But you learn something new every day, I suppose, and when we finally drew up to the booth, Mark rolled down the window. Inside the booth was a woman with a ponytail and a fondness for pink sparkly lipgloss. She had a wad of gum in her mouth. She leaned very slightly towards the Impala**.
- Fruit checkpoint lady: [:: snaps her gum ::] You got any fruit?
Mark: Um… no?
Mario: [:: quietly, from the backseat ::] We got a fruitbat.
Fruit checkpoint lady: Okay. Have a nice day.
We cackled to ourselves for the next few miles, imagining what it would be like if we actually had a fruitbat stashed on board. And somehow, out in the craggy hills of northern California, what began as a whispered giggle took on a life of its own. It blossomed. It snowballed.
Caitlin named the imaginary fruitbat “Steve.” Someone came up with a baseline theology: “Thou shalt not be a douchebag.” And lo, Steve did enter our hearts and we were blessed with divine understanding!
Before long, we had a full set of “battitudes” — including (but not limited to) such inspired declarations as, “Blessed are the fabulous, for they shall have doors opened for them everywhere.” “Blessed are the groovy, for they shall get down forever.” “Blessed are the goths, for they come pre-accessorized for this faith.”
Steve’s communion wafers are Doritos, for they are shaped like his mighty wings. And also, for they were what I’d picked up from the last gas station.
Steve accepts no tithes nor donations. Steve ain’t in it for the cash.
Steve urges us to love the douchebag, but hate the douchebaggery.
He requires no house of worship; anyplace where a polite, considerate person is mindful of others … there you will find him.
And we spoke of the things which Steve would endorse, and revile:
Steve greatly loveth all things sweet and squishy, and he sheds his mercy upon those who correctly use their blinkers; likewise, he smiles upon drivers who know how to merge, and who can correctly form a fucking zipper for God’s sake;*** and his heart is warmed by salespeople who leave you alone while you’re trying on clothes. He is gladdened to see bartenders who don’t skimp the sauce. He is pleased by those who share their Doritos.
But Steve abhors a faux-hawk. He is much offended by posers who roll up one pants leg even though they haven’t ridden a bicycle since third grade; and he loathes a man in a neckerchief. Steve does not ever want to hear you shout, “WOOOOO!” in a crowded elevator just because you’re drunk and it’s Vegas and you’re with your girlfriends. High-heeled flip-flops are an abomination — doubly so if you’re three sheets to the wind and counting.
It took on a life of its own.
Before long, we were speculating sadly about how Steve needs to shine his goodness and light down upon that asshole taxi-driver who rode our bumper in San Francisco and honked wildly all the while; we considered how badly Steve’s influence was needed among the bitchy, liquored-up grandmas at the slot machines in the Bellagio; and we marveled at how his kindness could have improved the service at that Starbucks.
So, What Would Steve Do? Well, Steve would probably walk forward on his wee little elbows and nom a bit of fruit. But he wouldn’t be a dick about it, that’s for damn sure.
Now all we need are some chick tracts and an outreach program, and baby, we are golden.
* Though we concluded that “Clandestine Banana” would make an awesome band name.
** Which is to say, the Kia Rondo we named “Impala.”
*** We spent a lot of time driving in southern California, okay?
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