This morning I celebrated this holiest of holy days of my so-called people by making a lovely bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich. On a croissant. A sugary, buttered croissant. This act was not my irreligious act of choice, but it would have to do. What I really like to do on national or religious holidays is take hallucinogens in a city, state or national park, but I had to perform a different form of sacrilege to the religion I don’t practice today; in addition to eating–and non-kosher foods at that–I worked, and therefore my perversions were confined to the realm of food and drink only. Luckily, being that Yom Kippur is a holiday based on fasting as an act of repentance, eating a giant bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich on a buttered croissant was enough of a sacrilegious act to satisfy me.

Holiness is a real problem in my life. The things I find holy, the rest of the world finds depraved and threatening and the things the rest of the world finds holy, I find at turns numbing and perverse. Life thus consists of a series of unintelligible fuck-yous to all the people, places, things and ideas I perceive to be offending me. Sometimes these fuck-yous take the form of giant signs that say, “Fuck You.” Other times they take the form of bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwiches consumed on holy days of fasting.

But before you judge me too quickly, let me say this: Despite my remarks to the contrary, I already observed Yom Kippur this year, and a week in advance at that. I am so pious and repentant that I fasted last weekend, and for 36 hours instead of the usual 25. Yes, I did stay up all night on Sunday debauching myself and found a lack of appetite for the next day and a half to be a serious but not entirely surprising after-effect. Still, I didn’t eat for a long time and that has to count for something. Now I do realize that spirituality and purification have to do with some sort of conscious intention, but as I understand it, a lot of religion rests on going through the motions–otherwise why would those Chabad guys be so excited to get someone else to light the menorah? So while I may not have been consciously thinking about starting the new year off with a pure and clean soul and in fact was doing my best to start it with a spectacularly toxic liver, I did–however inadvertently–do exactly what Torah tells me to. Let’s just say I did the right thing for the wrong reasons. And believe you me, by midday on Monday, I was definitely well into some process of repentance and being punished for some sins I must have committed. Atonement need not be an annual thing if you live your life in a certain way. Sinning and atoning is a continual process that at some point just becomes daily life.

It’s hard to say whether I’ve taken special pains to profane the holiest of holy days in the past, or whether it’s just worked out that way. All I know is that the past few Yom Kippurs have consisted of such wholesome pursuits as eating pepperoni pizza, driving upstate and taking cactus mescaline in a state park (Yom Kippur 2004) or eating a salad (with bacon in it) and some macaroni and cheese (with bacon in it) and going to a show (Yom Kippur 2005). I often wonder if in those acts I came just as close to God as everyone praying in an overcrowded synagogue.

Maybe it’s a holdover from my secular childhood, in which my parents would use our day off from school to take us apple picking or, if Indian Summer was in effect, to the beach. They never missed an opportunity to tell us that all religion is bullshit and there is no God and no reason to feel guilty. Some might say a little religion would have done me some good. Perhaps if I had ever come to believe that one very old book was holy, I wouldn’t be so easily influenced by so many others. Perhaps if I truly believed that those songs and chants were holy, I wouldn’t be so susceptible to the songs and chants of people still thankfully alive and not marked by desert wandering or misogyny, or if they are marked by desert wandering, it quickly ends in their arrival at a liquor store, and if they are marked by misogyny, it’s only a reaction to an unfortunate turn of events in the realm of romantic love.

Last night, the eve of the holiest of holy days started out wholesomely enough. My personal physicians invited me uptown for a nutritious Sunday meal of roast chicken and vegetables. Just as night was falling, I was getting soundly stoned as the smell of perfectly basted fowl filled the house. Somewhere very nearby other people to whom I’m probably distantly related were praying on emptying stomachs, but I was working up an appetite from within a pleasant reverie. I was remembering the last time I had gotten soundly stoned and eaten a roast chicken–it was actually the moment that ended a decade of vegetarianism. It was my sophomore year of college and some nice boy had invited me to his house for dinner. But when I arrived, the nice boy was nowhere to be found, and instead I encountered his pothead roommates and shortly after that, a beautifully roasted chicken. I think I may have even taken a turn at basting it, and it may have been that moment when I looked upon the bird in a stereotypically munchy haze and said, “I have been wrong for the last decade. That chicken may once have lived and breathed, but now it is for eating and eat it I shall.” I ate that roast chicken and never looked back, and that is how I eventually came to have new and porcine methods at my disposal for quietly flipping the proverbial bird to all things guilty and ancient.

“I think it is very important to eat meat,” I said as we dug into last night’s somewhat illicit roast chicken. “Not only for the protein, but for the violence.” My hosts graciously nodded and agreed, but they were busy debating the firmness of their parsnips. I sipped my wine and in addition to being soundly stoned, got quietly drunk and pleasantly full. I contemplated no sins and prayed for no purity. I took a $20 cab ride back to Brooklyn and enjoyed every expensive moment of it.

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