The Lost Commandments

Every year, without fail, in an attempt to share our upbringing with our children, my family would spend the evening sitting in front of the television watching the annual airing of ‘The Ten Commandments’. Somewhere between Easter and Passover, this annual event had become a tradition in our house, carried over from my childhood in my parents’ home.

“Oh, look.”, my wife said. “The Ten Commandments is on tonight.”

“How many times have we seen it?”, I asked. “20 or 30 times?”

“I guess.”, she said.

“You know, they are the same commandments as the first time we watched it.”, I added. “Nothing’s changed.”

“I know.”, she said. “But its such a good movie.”

“I don’t know about that.”, I stated. “It would have been better if they had talked about the 1st set of commandments.”

“What are you talking about?”, she asked.

“Remember when Moses returned from Mt. Sinai with the tablets that he smashed upon seeing the people praying to the golden calf?”, I continued. “Well, apparently, there were a completely different set of commandments on those first tablets. When Moses returned to retrieve the commandments again, the contents of those second tablets were very different.”

“Really?”, she asked.

“That’s what biblical scholars are saying.”, I told her. “But that singular fact could have changed the direction of the film.”

“How do they know what was on the first tablets?”, she asked. “The ones that were destroyed.”

“They weren’t destroyed.”, I reminded her. “They were smashed. During an archaeological expedition, pieces of the tablets were excavated and placed together. Translated by experts in biblical writing, it revealed a very different set of ideals.”

“A long time ago.”, I said, “Maybe in the 1920s or so. It had been kept secret, hidden from the people by a council of leaders of all of the monotheistic religions, so as not to create upheaval in their respective faiths. About 30 years ago, someone going through documents in The Vatican Library uncovered documents that referenced this discovery, and the conspiracy to cover it up.”

“Wow.”, she said. “Did they reveal what was on the first tablets?”

“Not at first”. , I explained. “It wasn’t until about 2007, that the tablets were presented to the public, and their contents revealed.”

“Well?”, my wife asked, encouraging me to go on.

“Well, what?”, I answered.

“What was on the first tablets?”, she asked.

“Well”, I said. “While the current commandments are filled with what we should not do, so eloquently prefaced with ‘Thou Shalt Not’ , interestingly enough, the first set of tablets were more positive, giving man a list of things that he should do.”

“So,”, she asked, “what are they?”

“Give me a minute to try and remember.”, I said. After a short pause I continued. “Okay, now I don’t think these are in any particular order, and I am paraphrasing, but one was be kind to yourself and to each other. There was pay attention to those that seem dim, for their lights shine the brightest. There’s go west and see the Pacific Ocean at least once. Oh, and…

“Oh, crap!”, she shouted. “You just made all of that up, didn’t you? I don’t know why I even bother to listen to any of your stories.”

“Wait.”, I told her. “There’s more.”

“I don’t want to hear anymore.”, she said. “I’m turning on The Ten Commandments.”

“Oh, come on.”, I pleaded. “Not again.” And then she gave me those Spanish-Moroccan eyes, the look that needed no words to explain its meaning. “Alright.”, I said as I left the room.

“Wait.”, she called out to me. “Aren’t you going to watch it with me?”

“No.”, I answered. “It never goes well. You talk the whole way through the movie, and I simply groan with boredom.”

“Oh, come on.”, she requested. “This time it will be fun. You can do your running commentary, and you can even do your own version of the narration.”

“Are you sure?”, I asked.

“Yes.”, she said, beckoning me over to the seat beside her.

“How did I get so lucky to wind up with you?”, I asked as I sat down in my assigned seat.

“I have no idea.”, she said. “But you did, so don’t mess it up.”

“I do my best.”, I told her.

“I know.”, she answered. “And I love you. Now let’s watch the movie. Who is that guy?”

“Which guy?”, I asked.

“The old one.”, she said.

“He’s The King”, I replied. “The Pharaoh.”

“I thought the bald guy was the King.”, she advised.

“Well, he is.”, I told her, but not of Egypt. He is the king of Siam.”

“Are you sure?”, she inquired.”

“Pretty sure.”, I told her. “You’ll just have to watch and see.”






Monsters, & Other Scary Things


My family is weirdly phobic. I myself suffer from a fear of flying,  the kind that occurs in airplanes, and death. Seems pretty reasonable to me. My family, on the other hand, suffers from such intense fears, that they often huddle together, like penguins trying to stay warm, protecting themselves from the impending doom that is certain to consume their very souls.

One of my daughters is frightened to death of costumes, you know, people dressed up as team mascots, and cartoon characters. It matters not that she is looking at Batman, or Spiderman, heroes that will keep her from harm’s way, it is still a costume. She has never been able to sit through a professional sporting event. She has never attended the Ice Capades, and our family trip to Disneyland was, to say the least, a significantly traumatic experience for her.

Along with this masklophobia, she, one of her sisters, and my wife also suffer from the dreaded fear of clowns. Not just the evil, scary clowns that have been portrayed in ‘It’ as Pennywise, but the happy, funny clowns that fall out of small cars, and squirt water out of a flower on their lapel. It seems that all clowns all scary, including Bozo, Krusty, and Clarabell. It is not surprising that none of them have ever been to the circus. Our one trip to a rodeo proved disastrous once the rodeo clowns came out. Their coulrophobia induced screams, and shrieks, tears, and gasping for air. And then their was a hasty retreat, which included jogging through the aisles, to the car

There is a widespread fear of monsters, which I have tried to point out on numerous occasions, are not real. My wife cannot watch a sci-fi film, such as Alien, or The Thing, or even Frankenstein. She is however fine with Frank ‘n’ Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which as a film, has an inordinate number of people in costume. She says that she likes Tim Curry. I remind her that Tim Curry was also Pennywise the clown. She refuses to discuss it, stating only that she doesn’t like clowns. As a general rule, if she is home, I cannot watch horror or Science Fiction films unless I am in a room she is not. I don’t mind really, I mean, she generally talks through every film or television show we watch, repeatedly asking, ‘Who is that?”, or “Where did he come from?” I regularly point out that it would be easy for her to follow, if she would just stop talking.

Musophobia, the fear of mice is another exasperating phobia shared by my wife and a daughter. The would sit paralyzed, watching a mouse dance across the living room, with walking stick and top hat, and scream that “There’s a mouse!” And when help arrives, they insist that the rodent is not harmed in any way. I consistently offer to merely capture and rehabilitate these disease ridden varmints, but the mice refuse to comply. I am forced therefore to exact more permanent consequences for invading my home, which creates even more screaming from the troubled duo.

My family also suffers from germophobia, and hydrophobia. In order to keep themselves germ free, there is a chronic, if not compulsive hand washing routine, which surprises me. How can people who are afraid of water, immerse their hands in water so often. My wife says that I am being ridiculous. She is only afraid of putting her face in water, not her hands. Now, it makes me wonder if, during the lifetime we have been married, she has ever washed her face? I have kissed that face! Hell, I hope she has.

My eldest daughter suffers from spectrophobia, the fear of ghosts, while my wife encourages these same spirits to come for a visit, and stay for some coffee and dessert. I myself am afraid of my wife seeing ghosts. After her father passed away, she asked him for a sign that he was watching over her. The next day I had a heart attack. I asked her not to participate in these spirit shenanigans any more. She replied that the sign was that I survived the heart attack. I am not particularly fond of the presence of those who have departed, but I am terrified of my wife’s ability to conjour up near fatal maladies.

Two of my daughters, one of my sons, and my wife are all terrified of being sick, or becoming ill. Nosemaphobics, all of them. They are petrified of vomiting, not being able to breathe when their noses are stuffed up, and even being in hospitals, lest they catch some viral concoction from patient zero.

It is a tough road to travel, one which I am forced to mostly travel on my own, due to the array of complex fears living deep within the psyches of my family members. I often wonder if the old adage ‘There is nothing to fear, but fear itself’ was ever raised at a general meeting of Phobics Anonymous. Not that it would have made any difference. My family embraces their fear, holds on to it, and runs away screaming and shrieking whenever possible, while I fend off the mice, and ghosts, and monsters, and clowns, and a myriad of viral entities.