Dear Dirty America


Bangladesh Birthday Special: Jesus’ Toenail in a Jar

November 12
01:07 2011

My birthday happened to be yesterday, and the world was going to celebrate me, and my life so far, except everybody was so gripped in fear over the looming 11/11/11 date they forgot to put on their party hats and aim well-wishing prayers toward Mecca. I walked to a tiny market in Little Bangladesh and asked if they had any birthday specials.

“No,” the short fat man said. He was dark and hairy and smelled like deep fried food. I picked up a pear. Fresh fruit and vegetables cluttered the front of the hole-in-the-wall market, and in the back there was a cafe where Bangladeshi people ate. Smells of curry and frying fat blew into the street.

But it’s my birthday, I told him, so if you can give me a pear or plum for free, I’ll be on my way. The fat man shook his head. I insisted that here in America every business has a birthday special, and the business that neglects its customers’ special days dries up within a year. God hates a business that’s insensitive to birthdays, I said.

“Baloney,” he said in a thick accent. He straightened a rack of bananas. “You aren’t a customer here, anyway. Birthday special!” He spit a thick wad of saliva onto the sidewalk.
I’m special, I said, and I deserve at least a good, strongly crafted cup of coffee. The very least, I said, but you should really offer me a free meal. Denny’s does. Make me feel special.

“You aren’t special,” he said. I’m very special! I said. I created a sensational blog called Dear Dirty America. It only offers condemnations, and no solutions. “How many people read it?” he asked. Anywhere between two hundred thousand and a million, I said, on a good day. Fifteen to one hundred on a bad day. “God save this country,” he said, rubbing his forehead.

We went back and forth for a few minutes before he turned to look inside the store. Six people stared at us. I didn’t know we had an audience. My friend lifted his arm, snapped his fingers, and a taller, fatter man waddled over. They spoke in their native tongue for a few minutes, and both periodically looked at me.

“I got a birthday special for you,” the fatter, taller man said. He was bald on top, but the ring of hair around the lower half of his cranium hung over his ears and neck. His hair had good body, and it curled nicely at its ends. I thought about complimenting him, since we both had long hair, but he didn’t seem the type to appreciate the comment. I kept my mouth shut.

Both men left, and then the fatter man came back with a small, lidded jar. He gave it to me, and I eyeballed it closely. The jar was filled with clear liquid. I turned it upside down and let a big bubble change its position. I re-righted it and looked at the man.
“There’s a very famous toenail in that jar,” the man said, “and someone like you might wish to have it.”
Gee whiz, I said, whose toenail? Bimal Roy? Clint Eastwood? Michael Jackson?
“Jesus Christ,” he said. “My name is Bimal!” I thought he was cursing, so I gave him a dirty look. I spotted the chunk of clipped toenail in the water. A magical clipping. Jesus Christ, I said back to him, that’s a hell of a story. But whose nail?
“Jesus’ toenail,” he said. “You’re a very special person, and it’s your birthday today, so you should have something special enough to celebrate you.”
I nodded.
“My great uncle traveled to Israel in 1968 and got in with some mystical Jews. They had two pieces of Jesus’ toenail. My uncle didn’t believe it, but they gave him one and told him to soak it in water and drink it after praying. The toenails grow again and again. Forever. So you have one toenail, every few months it grows, you have to trim it. You give the other nails away. It’s charitable.”
I was intrigued. I couldn’t stop looking at the peacefully sunk chunk of immortal toenail.
“You drink the water after you pray. It’s blessed. It’ll heal you and get you in greater standing with God. You must be cleansed and come to your prayers in a proper, believing mindset.”
I waved a hand at him. I know all about it, I said. I’ve got a Bible app on my iPhone and I give it a read when I’m on the train.
He seemed pleased. I asked him if I could take a pear also, for dessert. He shook his head. “Jesus’ toenail water is enough.”
This jar, I said, reminds me of the jar Obama put Osama bin Laden’s heart into when they killed him. The jar is bigger than this one, but the concept is the same. Obama gave the heart to George W Bush, and that was enough to seal a lasting friendship.
Bimal shooed me away.
I held my ground. I said, Bush Jr gets on his knees every night before Osama’s heart and prays to God for protection and guidance. He understands he has so much hatred for that heart that it turns back into love and admiration. Bush can’t figure it out, but he knows he has to do something in front of that heart, so he prays. He feels natural praying, just like he feels comfortable bombing marketplaces in the Middle East.
He’s a natural, I said.
Bimal shoved me away from the fruit stand, so I left. Thank you! I called. For the precious present. I’ve never received a greater one. I ran off to find Marlin and let him drink the water first. If anything miraculous happened to him, then I would take a sip. If he grew warts or his toenails fell off after drinking the Jesus water, I would fly it to my friends in NYC and have them try to get the NYPD to drink it. Those assholes could use a little divine smackdown.

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