D. and I started talking about Hell last night while we were driving from Asian Cuisine to Mozart's Pastry Shop in search of dessert to cool the fiery, oniony Mongolian goodness we'd just consumed.

We'd segued into discussing Hell after talking about the Tommy Lee/Pamela Anderson sex tape. D. was speculating at the level of torture that would be involved in having to see that tape, and nothing but, over and over again for eternity. He offered that it might be a suitable afterworldly punishment for Corrupt Politician X.

"What do you think?" he asked.

I pondered Hell and all its meanings. "I think Corrupt Politician X should be reborn as a crack baby in a ghetto," I replied.

"Ow, you're vicious," he replied. "But what about Corrupt, Falsely-Pious Politician Y?" he asked.

"Crack baby. Ghetto," I replied.

"Now, wait a minute," he said. "They can't all be crack babies. And we're talking about Hell, not reincarnation."

I shrugged. "Well, first, I think reincarnation is a better way of handling things than sending people to Hell for all eternity. Make 'em do it over 'til they get it right. But if we're talking about Hell, I think that the only reason someone should go there is if they've hurt other people in a bad way. And the only logical punishment is to have to experience the damage and pain they've caused firsthand. If you're a rich politician born to a family of power and you cut funding for social programs so your country club buddies can get a nice tax break ... into the ghetto you go."

"Take Kenneth Lay and the other responsible Enron execs," I continued. "Clearly, what they need most is to live the lives of the employees they've ruined."

D. nodded gravely. "Well, that might actually generate some genuine repentance and understanding."

"Exactly," I said. "What's Hell good for if it doesn't forge a better soul?"

We reached Mozart's and found dozens of yummy desserts in glistening their display case. After much deliberation, we selected a tiramisu, a petit four, and a fruit-covered cheesecake slice to go. The manager handed me a single long-stemmed red rose along with our boxed goodies.

"But what about the Pamela Anderson tape?" D. persisted when we got back to his truck. "Who deserves that punishment?"

"That's easy," I replied. "Whoever marketed the damn thing in the first place."

We got back to my apartment and found midnighter and /jen sitting in the living room. midnighter had brought me and /jen single roses, cards, and big boxes of chocolate. We all got glasses of milk and shared around the Mozart's goodies and the chocolate while we laughed over silly jokes. Then, D. and I curled up on the loveseat and we all watched a video /jen had rented. She'd apparently expected to sulk alone at home that night, and was pleased that we successfully foiled her plan.

"What about Heaven?" D. whispered after the movie was going and the lights were out.

"Maybe it's nights like this," I whispered back. "If that's what we get, I wouldn't mind a bit."