Saint Peter: Heaven’s Maître D’

Bonsoir, Monsieur, bonsoir!  Welcome to Heaven—a fine dying establishment.  Have you died with us before?  Kidding.  I’m Peter, the maître du paradis.  To many I am known as patron saint of VIPs.  I’m quite taken with your pocket square.  Exquisite.  Phineas Cole?  When it comes to pocket squares, cufflinks, and trilbies, I’m an expert.  You see, Monsieur, I am also patron saint of boulevardiers.  Although, according to Yelp, I’m no saint.  One amateur reviewer asserted: “For a canonized former fisherman, Peter was terribly pompous.  He insisted that all the clouds were reserved for recently deceased mensches and I was ‘more than welcome to wait at the bar for a last-minute resuscitation,’ then he waved me away.”  Under what name is your reservation?  …  Is that with one or two Ls?  …  Yes, of course, one L.  Two would be superfluous, heavy-handed, obvious.  Ah, here we are, I’ve located the booking: O’Sulivan, party of one, pescatarian.  I’ve always regarded pescatarians as the dietary equivalent of bisexuals.  Are they real?  Are they afraid of commitment?  Are they ever truly satisfied?  I see here that you perished choking on a fishbone, while enjoying the improperly filleted Sole Meunière at Café Trop Cher.  Upscale tragic.According to Modern Luxury’s Manhattan magazine, Café Trop Cher’s Holland Dover Sole Meunière is “unparalleled with respect to quality, presentation, and proximity to facelifts.”  I read that their executive chef, the acclaimed and soon-to-be indicted Jacques Koplowitz, prepares the dish using Wondra flour, Italian flat-leaf parsley, grass-fed cultured butter, Pantelleria capers, and only the very finest flounder.  By the way, Monsieur, I’m sorry for your loss, by which I mean—dessert.  According to Florence Fabricant, the lavender-infused crème brûlée at Café Trop Cher is “to die for.”  Oh, I apologize.  Too soon?  But here you are, beyond the common cosmos, the Upper East Side of transcendence, where only the well connected souls mingle, where you’ll rub nonphysical elbows with the impeccable, famous, and weightless.  You, Monsieur, are considered “PPX,” a Personne Particulièrement Extraordinaire, so here’s my business card.  Treasure it.  You, Monsieur, as a righteous person, one who lived his life morally, consistently tipping waiters thirty percent, always handing the coat check attendant nothing less than a ten-dollar bill, you will receive access to the Almighty if you have any questions, concerns, or comments, regarding your hairline.  You’ll also receive a complimentary artisanal cheese course.  …  Yes, naturally, Monsieur, your cloud has a spectacular view—of Mother Teresa bathing a leper.  I realize, that particular sight may be somewhat unappetizing, but it’s the best we could do on such short notice.  You see, Monsieur, you weren’t supposed to choke on a fishbone, you were supposed to draw your last breath peacefully in your sleep, on the sixth of June, twenty thirty-five.  There’s the rub: you’re considered a “walk-in.”  …  No, Monsieur, there’s nothing available with a view of Marilyn Monroe bathing a lawyer.  Naturally, for those clouds offering the spectacle of Ms. Monroe, all of which were reserved years in advance, Heaven requires a credit card deposit and you’re obliged to participate in a never-ending tasting menu, which includes over eighty trillion palate cleansers.  …  I’m sorry, Monsieur, absolutely no one is permitted a view of Greta Garbo.  Our Lord and Creator forbids it.  How do you feel about glancing upon Elena Aiello washing Venetian blinds for all of eternity?  Elena was a selfless nun, one of the Minim Sisters of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who helped refugees and encountered visions of the Virgin Mary, one of which involved the Blessed Mother holding forth about her Son, while sipping a Virgin Mary, ranting that she “did all the work, while His Father takes all the credit.”  Bitter much?  …  Yes, Monsieur, obviously we serve alcohol.  This is gentile Heaven.  Here in the celestial city we offer a wide range of wines and spirits, no pun intended.  We’re particularly proud of our extensive selection of digestifs.  Our Head Sommelier, Saint Vincent of Saragossa, is more than happy to assist with pairings, guiding you through our anthology of off-dry Rieslings.  I so admire Vincent, not because he was burned alive after refusing to decry his faith, but because he boldly rolled his eyes when the Roman Emperor Diocletian expressed his inclination for oaky, buttery Chardonnays.  Vincent was a martyr—and a snob.  He is the patron saint of winemakers, fiercely protecting those who harvest in Burgundy and Bordeaux, largely ignoring the crops of the North Fork of Long Island.  …  Yes, Monsieur, you will meet Jesus, as He is Heaven’s managing partner and visits each and every cloud to confirm that you’re enjoying your ethereal experience and to recommend the rack of Lamb of God, the Good Shepherd’s pie, and the King of Kings crab legs.  You see, Monsieur, the Savior, the Redeemer, the Messiah, is a connoisseur, a gourmand, a foodie.  During the Last Supper, He foretold that one of us, His twelve Apostles, would betray Him, “probably,” He said, “whoever ordered the jalapeño poppers,” which, needless to say, was Judas, whom I’d always considered olive-toned trash.  …  Yes, Monsieur, you will be reunited with your mother and father, both of whom I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting.  Your mother, I must tell you, was quite complimentary regarding our decor, instantly noticing that the newly revamped clouds weren’t merely white, but a more nuanced, au courant, custom shade: “Woke White.”  …  Oh, I agree, Monsieur, Heaven is extremely beautiful, entirely exquisite, breathtaking: the lighting, the rainbows, the gardens, no sorrow, no pain, no T-shirts, no shorts, no baseball caps, no flip-flops.  Beyond these pearly gates, we enforce a rigid dress code.  You’ll notice Gandhi is wearing loafers.  Now, come, come, Monsieur, right this way.  Chez Holiness awaits.  My assistant, Joan of Arc, will escort you in.  Enjoy your afterlife.  And, remember, no vaping—ironically.

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