I met Satan the other day. Funny I hadn’t noticed him before, it was immediately apparent he’d been hanging around all along and I just wasn’t paying attention.
One thing about Satan— he’s cool. That hyperbolic canard about fire and brimstone couldn’t have been less in evidence from the placid nodding glance he tossed me, inducing a brief ice cream migraine. Nothing odd, either, about the entrails he washed down with a sip of Chardonnay. Blink. You’d have blinked, too. I mean— Chardonnay? Then the flash of lizard tongue tidying up a lock of hair, all nonchalance. Two milliseconds of deniable visual data, nothing but my own crawling flesh as evidence. Then he coolly dismissed me, resuming a conspiratorial exchange with his entourage, hooting and guffawing.
“I just got Sataned,” I thought dumbly. An avalanche of doubt about my coolness crashed around me. I scanned the room for refuge. The place was swimming with predators, sycophants, parasites. Definitely uncool. Then the John Carpenter hallucination succumbed to a sudden epiphany: this is for my benefit! I’m the audience! I shed my sheepishness and reviewed the scene anew with serpent’s eyes.
Satan flicked an approving glance my way, which was intercepted by a hammerhead, who immediately attacked. He pulled up short when I grinned admiration at his teeth while the lamprey on my earlobe succumbed to giggles at my sanguine reception and a big cat sheathed his claws giving me leave to pluck a thorn. Over by the piano a gay calypso broke out among the bivalves. With the party animal mentality prevailing, I nearly forgot Satan, who’d switched to bourbon and was comparing incisors with a marmot from Detroit.
That’s the last actual Satan sighting I had, and things have pretty much resumed the routine evils of neglect and indifference. I miss him and I don’t—y’know what I mean?
Without a definite bad guy, your good vs. evil radar goes to hell and complicity with that undifferentiated pack loping toward Hades has the advantage. I’m only guessing, but I think size and money skew the equation; higher numbers bidding lower nature. Even Beelzebub’s quality control suffers— weren’t Darth Vadar and the Matrix both transcendently, luminously evil until their franchises became empires? Evil’s allegedly banal, but it’s discouraging to see it become outright boring.
As to my encounter with the Prince of Darkness, it’s nothing much to brag about. No inducements to soul barter, no offers of wealth, power, fame…I probably blew it. I am left wondering about the ambiguous admonishment: “Get thee behind me, Satan.”— I think the key is in the inflection.