Editor’s Note: Mike Vinson is currently enjoying a much-deserved vacation. Here is a column originally printed June 12, 2011. Vinson will return next week.
One day, St. Peter was sitting at the Pearly Gates working on his crossword puzzle.
He was stuck on a nine-letter word that described a “male hick from the South.” Suddenly it came to him: “hillbilly.”
So, St. Peter, who fancied himself somewhat of a meister of word knowledge, quickly penned in the nine letters.
Just as he’d finished filling in the spaces on the crossword, there was a loud knock at the Pearly Gates.
St. Peter arose from his recliner, walked to the Pearly Gates, opened them, and there stood one Jethro Bodine, dressed in a flannel shirt, too-short homespun jeans – with a twine string for a belt – and brogan boots, grinnin’ ear-to-ear.
“May I help you?” St. Peter asked.
“Yes-siree-buddy,” Jethro said, “I wanna get into Heaven.”
“Well,” St. Peter said, “your timing couldn’t be better, and the reason is this: For the past several decades, mankind has spiraled into such a deplorable state of wickedness, we haven’t been making our quotas. So, we’ve devised a new plan: To walk through these Pearly Gates and enter into Heaven, you only have to answer three questions.The first two are quite simple; however, the third one is considerably more difficult.”
“Let’s get ‘er did!” Jethro exclaimed.
“OK,” St. Peter commenced, “in a seven-day week, there are two days that begin with the letter ‘t.’ What are they?”
“Shucks, that’s easy as apple pie: today and tomorrow.”
“Ah … well, the actual answers are Tuesday and Thursday, but, technically speaking, you are correct, so I’m going to give you a pass here,” St. Peter said.
“Now, question No. 2: If you do happen to make it into Heaven, the ones who run things up here are called the Trinity, which consist of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost. Many centuries ago, The Son came to earth and lived and died as a man, so that other humans, such as you, would have a chance at everlasting life. What was The Son’s name during his time on earth?”
“Andy!” Jethro proudly announced.
Shaking his head, St. Peter asked, “How on earth – well, Heaven, in this case – did you come up with ‘Andy’?”
“‘Cause when Ise a little boy and went to church with my granny and Uncle Jed, we’d sing ‘bout ‘im.”
“And just what, precisely, was it you sang that made you say ‘Andy’?”
“We’d sing, ‘And He walks with me/and He talks with me/and He tell me I am his own’ …”
“Enough!” St. Peter said with a stern tone, his face turning red, cutting Jethro short.
“I don’t find your corn-fed logic the least bit funny, but given the need to increase our statistical rating, I’m going to let you slide on this one, too. Now, for the third and final question: Exactly, how many seconds are there in a 365-day year?”
“Wee-doggies, that’s the easiest-un yet!” Jethro howled with glee.
“There’s exactly 12 seconds in a 365-day year.”
“Oh, really? Would you care to explain your answer of 12 seconds – Mr. math genius?” St. Peter mockingly asked, convinced he’d tripped up Jethro with the last question.
“Well, you see, there’s the second of January, the second of February, the second of March …”
“Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!” St. Peter screamed, jumping up and down, fists clenched, gritting his teeth.
After a few moments, St. Peter regained his composure and announced, “Bad as I hate to, I have no choice other than to allow you to walk through the Pearly Gates into Heaven.”
With that, Jethro Bodine walked through the Pearly Gates and toward Heaven.
Before walking very far, though, Jethro turned around – still grinnin’ – and said, “You know, St. Peter, my Uncle Jed always told me my sixth-grade education would pay off someday.”
Mike Vinson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.