Auntie Barba

 

Dear Auntie Barba,

What kinds of questions does Saint Peter ask at the Pearly Gates?

Gertrude

 

Dear Gertrude,

What a charming question! To find out the answer, I sent an undercover associate to pose as a recently deceased person. Bob’s report is as follows:

“I was met by an angel with a double-edged sword who asked, Natural causes or accident? I said natural, and the angel gestured to a door on the right. I went into an anteroom decorated with posters that looked like the Periodic Table of Elements.

“When my name was called, I went through another door and saw a geometric structure made out of neon. A resonant tenor voice from out of nowhere asked a series of questions: In your previous life, did your parents treat you well? Was your wife faithful to you, and did she make you happy in bed? Did your children love and respect you? Did your boss pay you a fair salary? Did you have the admiration of your peers? Did you live in a nice house? Did your friends bring you a lot of happiness? I started to answer, but was interrupted by chuckling, then peels of laughter. Fooled you! the voice said. Did you actually believe we give a flying fig for how others treated you? What we care about is how you treated others! Any self-pity will be held strictly against you. You are entitled to explain yourself in terms of character defects, but not victimhood. You may request a preparation period before seeing Saint Peter, or you may approach him now. What do you choose?

“This was the point at which I yelled, I’m not really dead! and turned and fled.”

That’s Bob’s report. Sobering, isn’t it? At least you won’t fall for the ruse when you get to the other side, dear Gertrude.

 

Everything goes better with Auntie Barba