Tales From the World of Stone-Based Publishing

I probably missed a good chance to become famous when I turned down a request from God back in the day. I was sitting there minding my own business when I heard his voice boom down on me from above, which was always a bad sign. He said he had fashioned a set of commandments which the men and women of Earth would have to live by, and that it would be up to me to transcribe them to stone and present them to the masses. I was initially okay with this, and I asked him how many commandments there were. He said there were three hundred and fourteen of them. He'd broken them down into seventeen categories. And each of those categories had four sub-categories. I guess he noticed me rolling my eyes a little, because he instantly got a little defensive. I asked him to give me an example of what we were talking about. He read off Commandment #131. It was "Thou shalt inch forward into the intersection when waiting to make a left turn on a green light so as to keep traffic flowing." Which to me didn't sound like it was really necessary as, you know, a commandment. But I held my tongue. He gave me another one: "Thou shalt not throw four balls to any batter, lest he take first base."

I had to give it to God straight. I said he was going to have to whittle this list down a bit, because 1) etching letters into stone was not the easiest thing to do, and 2) people were busy, their attention spans weren't like they used to be before the invention of written language. My feeling was that he should focus on ten core commandments. Ten: easier to remember, metric-system friendly. He whined about this. He said he had ten commandments just about cleaning up after your dog. I asked him to lay out the most important ones. "Thou shalt not kill" sounded fine---four words and done, don't kill things, a concrete directive. But then the next one was something about not committing adultery. It sounded catchy, but obviously unfair. I suggested he allow people a little wiggle room on that one, like maybe "Thou shalt not commit adultery five times" or "with children in the next room." He wouldn't listen to reason, though. And he wanted to have one about remembering the Sabbath day, but again, I figured why get all up in people's faces about it with formal legislation when there were day planners for that kind of thing. Then there was "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain." I couldn't believe this was actually a problem for God. I mean, did he want to send everyone to hell? Did he want a planet totally emptied of human beings, with everyone burning down below, because my view was that if he included the name-in-vain thing, it was basically going to be him and sheep left up here. After that, we just went back and forth for a while and he finally yelled at me to pare the list down myself if I was so damn smart. I took it and I left it somewhere, who knows where, and Moses wound up getting credit for presenting that crap to the masses. Not to brag or anything, but if I had really applied myself, I could have cut that freaking list down to two commandments. Missed opportunities, story of my life.