During my sleep, the entire world had been taken over by full beards. I’m serious. When I woke, I found massive beards, waiting for a face, all over my house. There was a stone-grey beard on my pillow, with the hint of a smile beneath its bushy silver moustache. The shadings between pepper and salt—black, grey, silver, white—were amazingly intricate. I thought the world was contained in it. I went to get my morning clothes, and Santa beards were dangling from all the empty coat hangers in my closet. When I went to wash, there was a distinguished, full steel beard draped gently on the lower half of the mirror. I slid my reflection perfectly into its long silver. The moustache beamed so serenely, I knew I accepted it. I understood then the possibility of a destiny. I gazed at my now-greybearded face in the silvery mirror, and my father’s eyes shone out. When I went to the hallway telephone, I brushed off the platinum goatee resting on the dial pad and called my father who told me they first came to him the same way. My hand reached up to find my own grey-threaded beard had come to soften my face, to lend me the reflection of time. There was peace, the chance to look back humbly. I thanked my father and said, yes.
The Gospel According to Ian Fleming
When I was the spindly legs of eleven years old, in our Chicago parish, I listened to my father read from the Holy Gospel lesson, in which we are directed to go into our closets and pray, where our Father in Heaven will hear and answer our prayer in secret.
That golden summer, I consumed James Bond books, puppy-following my father’s encouragement that, for any book I read, I was allowed to watch the movie with him.
In the way of a child’s synchronicity, my mind synthesised the two concepts. I became a spiritual secret agent, praying covertly, praying in a secret identity, leaving God coded messages, and avoiding enemy agents.
My prayers became shy. I attended Church with my father, and looked at girls like secret knowledge. I was shaken, not stirred. I became Samaras. Nick Samaras. I left God chalked messages for meetings. I prayed in secret for the world to become a fast car, the confidence of a tuxedo, the ability to beat up all the bullies in my eleven-year-old life.
And, just as covertly, in my father’s voice, God responded with time and time and time.