And so we arrive, once again, at that hallowed time of the year when man bows his head to the Lord, trembling in fear, pounding his chest in regret and sorrow while tearfully begging absolution and mercy from the Creator of the Universe. This is a time for admission, for contrition. A time for swinging a chicken—or cock, as the English say—around your head. (No other hook-nosed creature, not even Jews, has suffered as much throughout history as have chickens.) It is a time for an honest taking stock of oneself—one’s failings, one’s sins, one’s mistakes, one’s errors. With one notable exception:
God murders, God kills, God takes revenge, God, by his own admission, is a jealous God. God turns his head. But God doesn’t apologize. Not for war, not for disease, not for Ashton Kutcher, not for anything. We’ve been apologizing to him for years, and—nothing. Not a peep. Not a whoops, not a sorry, not a “My Bad on the whole Hitler thing.” So, seriously: No more apologies. I’m not apologizing for anything (and I say this over a breakfast of a bacon-and-egg sandwich), not for one more goddamn thing until he does, and I think all Jews, all over the world, ought to unite at last and join me: No apologies. No sorrows. Not this year.
It’s God’s turn:
O Mankind, son of your fathers and your fathers’ fathers, let My prayers come before you, and do not hide yourself from My supplication. O Mankind, I am not so arrogant nor so hardened to say, “I am righteous and have not sinned.” For truly I have sinned. I have turned away from you, and I have done evil in your sight.
(God should bend forward at the waist here and upon reciting each sin pound his chest with his fist.)
For the sins I committed against you with diseases of the body, and for the sins I committed against you with diseases of the mind.
For the sins committed by murdering your parents, and for the sins I committed by murdering your children.
For cancer and for AIDS and for heart disease and for emphysema and for Alzheimer’s and for Parkinson’s. For regular leukemia, and for childhood leukemia.
For the commandments I gave you that I don’t even adhere to myself.
For erectile dysfunction.
For premenstrual syndrome.
For aging, for time, for mortality.
For Miley Cyrus.
For all the Cyruses.
For YA vampire novels.
For lynchings and gassings and mass graves and medical experiments and being burned alive.
For broken hearts. For loneliness. For divorce and for dysfunction.
For making it so damned hard.
For judging you, damning you, condemning you, without ever having been for even a brief moment in your soiled, mortal shoes.
For the whole circumcision thing.
For turning my head.
For calling homosexuality an abomination. (I’d just been dumped by my boyfriend.)
For the enduring lies and the broken promises.
For the unanswered prayers and the unanswered questions.
For all those notes in the wall I never read.
For Facebook and for MySpace.
And for Ashton fucking Kutcher.
For all these things, Mankind,
(Perfect. Now go swing a cock around your head.)
Shalom Auslander is the author of Foreskin’s Lament and the novel Hope: A Tragedy. He is also a frequent contributor to This American Life. His new novel, Mother for Dinner, will be published by Riverhead this September.