I find myself in a bathroom. Walls white and sterile looking with that chemical smell from the pink urinal pucks. Bad lighting and the air is as still as a tomb. I blink because I don’t know why I’m here; I’m probably dreaming. There’s another person in here with me but he just got here and the door swings heavy on its double hinges. He nods to me as he approaches the urinal and I stand awkwardly, wondering why I came here.
“Some weather,” he says and I realize that his overcoat is stained with rain.
“I guess so.” I don’t really know what to say since I don’t know exactly where I am or what the weather is like. I take a second and look at this stranger and realize that he’s dressed very well. His suit is tailored; I can tell by the buttons on the sleeves and its quality is obvious in its dark navy with a faint chalk line pattern. His tie is a dirty gold with royal blue diamonds scattered about. Instinctively, I glance at his shoes and notice that their brogue tips are polished to a respectable shine and his trousers are slightly wet from the puddles outside. As my eyes move higher up his body I realize who it is.
“Jesus, yes.” He says it in a way that makes me realize that I should have capitalized all the previous pronouns.
I feel like I should say something but He starts to “go” and I feel suddenly uncomfortable in a bathroom with Jesus peeing. My hands fumble around nervously looking for a place to go but Jesus is calm.
“Don’t be afraid.” He says it with such a New Testament tone I can’t help but smile. Jesus told me not to be afraid while he took a wiz. Shouldn't He have said, "fear not?"
“You can smoke in here.”
My hand had been fingering the corner of my cigarettes but modern day politeness had kept me from lighting one. Jesus must have noticed this and, like any good omniscient being, He let me smoke. So I did.
With a Parliament lit, I feel more in my element so I ask a question.
“So…” I begin.
“You want to know what you’re doing here.” Jesus zips up and flushes and starts washing His hands. I'm glad to see that the Son of God has good personal hygiene
“A little bit.”
“I’m here to give you a piece of advice.”
There’s silence for a few seconds while I think this over. Jesus meets me in a public bathroom to give me advice. For a public restroom, there’s no one else here. I look around and try and place the bathroom; if I’m dreaming, it should be a place that I’ve seen before but I can’t seem to recognize it.
“Shine your shoes.” He says the words slowly as He finishes washing His hands and begins to dry them with the hand blower. There are paper towels above the garbage but Jesus chose the hand blower. I wonder for a moment if this is the advice - - hand blowers.
“Shine your shoes.” He says again as if to remind me that He’d already said this and that maybe I should be listening to Him.
“Shine my shoes?”
“Yes.” He looks hard at me. I can tell that this is what the point of this whole meeting is about but I can’t help but feel a bit shorted. Maybe it's one of those parables.
“That’s your advice?”
“Yes.” His nod is a little dismissive but I have to press it.
“I’m meeting Jesus and He tells me to shine my shoes?” I'm glad that I remembered to capitalize my pronouns out loud.
“Yes.” He doesn’t look annoyed even though I know I’m being difficult.
“But my shoes are shined.”
“Well that’s my advice to you.” The hand blower is done and Jesus wipes His hands on his trousers. He offers His hand to me and I shake it but feel very unfulfilled.
“Shine your shoes!” He declares one last time before leaving through the double-hinged door. I look down at my boots. I shined them last night and can’t help but feel a little defensive about the whole encounter.
But that doesn’t mean that it was bad advice.