In case you missed it, the Virgin Mary is up to her old tricks again. Last week, workers at Martucci Angiano's Bodega Chocolates in Fountain Valley, Calif., discovered a two-inch lump of chocolate drippings under a vat, a lump that Angiano told the news media bears a striking resemblance to the Virgin Mary. According to an Aug. 17 Associated Press report, since discovering the iconic hunk of sugary goodness, "Angiano's employees have spent much of their time hovering over the tiny figure, praying and placing rose petals and candles around it."
It seems that my lack of superstition and my insistence upon applying logic to my vision of the world have rendered me incapable of appreciating the obvious holiness of a lump of chocolate, because I saw a picture of the thing, and it looks like a lump of chocolate.
It's about time Mary showed herself again. She's been keeping a low profile since last January when she appeared to Veronica Dennis in Mexico, Maine. Yes, there is a town in Maine named "Mexico," and yes, the Virgin Mary turned up there. You can't make this stuff up. Anyhow, Dennis was rummaging through the rubble of her burned-out home when she discovered an image of Mary on a scorched kitchen wall. I saw a picture. It looked like a scorched wall.
You might also recall that in April 2005, hundreds of Chicagoans claimed they saw Mary in a stain on a concrete wall at the Fullerton Underpass of the Kennedy Expressway. I saw a picture. It looked like a stain. But to the faithful, it was one of thousands of Mary visions dating back to at least 1531, when the pristine prankstress made her oeuvre as the Virgin of Guadalupe, appearing on a Mexican hillside to one Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. In the ensuing 475 years, she has picked some mighty peculiar ways to reveal herself to believers, mostly Catholics, mostly poor, mostly suffering some moment of angst. Every time she appears anywhere, she looks remarkably un-Jewish and she's always in a posture taken straight out of a Botticelli painting. She's a clever one, that Mary.
As for me, I never see Mary-ever. I have looked at all of the purported revelations of the Mother of Jesus that I have heard of and I haven't seen her yet-not in a grilled-cheese sandwich, not in an oil spill, not in a cup of latté, not in a potato chip, not in a bag of leaves. I can't see her no matter how hard I look. It's like looking at those pictures that are supposed to have other pictures in them. You remember those. They were huge in the early '90s. I have never seen anything in one of those pictures. I sat and stared at one for a half-hour one time. I did everything I was supposed to do until I got a headache and I still didn't see anything.
Until quite recently, I almost never saw anything in anything. I once bought a Russet potato that bore a striking resemblance to Gerald Ford (who I hear is doing much better), but that doesn't count. Last month I thought I saw a chinchilla in my closet. It was actually my girlfriend's angora sweater. I did once see an image of Che Guevara stenciled on a bathroom wall and as I stared at it, I could have sworn I saw Adam West's face appear, which was eerie insofar as Adam West never even met Che Guevara, as far as I know. I was pretty drunk that time.
But lately I have begun seeing things in things. Well, actually, I only see one thing, but I see it in lots of things. Lately I have begun seeing Mayor Jerry Sanders in all sorts of things. Like last Tuesday, for instance. I was sitting down to breakfast and I noticed that the burn marks on my toast were in the shape of Jerry's face. It freaked me out so badly, I gave the toast to my dog. One mustn't eat the mayor. The next night I was at Nunu's and as I was entering the men's room, a man passed me on his way out and, for a second, he looked exactly like Jerry. I even stopped and said, "Excuse me, Mr. Mayor." Imagine my embarrassment when the man turned out to be my friend Lars, who looks nothing like Jerry Sanders, although he does a really good impression of Roger Hedgecock.
The visions didn't end there, either. I was watching a football game this Saturday and as the camera panned over the audience, I could have sworn I saw Jerry in the stands wearing a New England Patriots jersey with red and blue paint on his face. I doubt it was him, but it sure looked a lot like him. I'll spare you the rest of the details, but believe me when I tell you that I have seen Jerry Sanders a good nine times in the past week and every time, he wasn't really there. It's spooky.
My girlfriend told me to talk to my therapist about it, so I did. He told me that my problem is lack of closure. He said that ever since I entreated the mayor to come meet me for happy hour and got rebuffed, my mind has been trying to make things right. He explained that the sense of rejection that can come from being overlooked by people more powerful than one's self often leads one to manufacture opportunities to resolve perceived inequities. In other words, I see Jerry because I feel as though I need to see Jerry. I asked my therapist how I could stop seeing Jerry and he said, "Easy-just tell him to come meet you for happy hour." I think I need a new therapist.
The Jerrymeter: Today is Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2006-Day 14 of Jerry Sanders being too good to come meet me for a beer at Nunu's.
Tony Phillips blogs at www.fifthavenuegazette.com. Write to fifthavenue firstname.lastname@example.org and editor@SDcitybeat.com.