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The Non-Expert

Second Lust

Experts answer what they know. The Non-Expert answers anything. This week we offer moral guidance to a reader who just realized their Second Life avatar bears a striking resemblance to their best friend’s wife.

Have a question? Need some advice? Ignored by everyone else? Send us your questions via email. The Non-Expert handles all subjects and is updated on Fridays, and is written by a member of The Morning News staff.


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Question: Dear Non-Expert,

I clocked whole months in the “mature” areas of Second Life before I twigged that the avatar I created was a dead ringer for my best friend’s wife. Do you think I might burn in Second Hell for this?

Turpentine Zanetti

Answer: Dear Turpentine,

I’m not exactly a theologian, but judging by your name (of which I am supremely jealous) and apparent fondness for the word “twig,” I take it you or your parents are really into pine trees, and therefore are likely of the hippie ilk. From this I can only conjecture that you, Turpentine, are a Wiccan, or perhaps some weirdo Unitarian Universalist that worships various flora and life-energy-sharing beings. Do not question my erudition on this subject, Turpentine. I used to live in Berkeley, and you are a Wiccan.

So, how does this factor in to the situation? Behind all the hoodoo voodoo black magic and neo-pagan occultism, Wicca is just like most other religions: It may be stripped down to a battle between the forces of good and evil—a dualistic thingy. In Wicca, as I’m sure you’re aware, good is represented by the blind 14-legged jack rabbit, Jacobin (also known as the Kindred God of Ferris, Supreme Inventor of the Chicken), while evil manifests itself in the nefarious Chick-Fil-A Collective (self-proclaimed “Inventor of the Chicken Sandwich”).

In case you’ve forgotten, the linchpin of Wiccan philosophy is a simple argument about the origin of life, and how one perceives the nature of the universe. Which came first: the chicken, or the chicken sandwich? The wife, or the avatar resembling the wife? Obviously, you see where I’m going with this, Turpentine. Or, perhaps you don’t—I wouldn’t blame you for being unable to match philosophical wits with a guy who studied under Martin Heidegger for 15 years.

You are confusing fiction with reality, the sandwich for the bird. You are covetous, prone to tendencies of lust and pride—punishable behavior in pretty much all religions, as well as throughout the state of Utah (you didn’t say you were Mormon Wiccan, did you?). Unless you alter your spiritual tack immediately and begin praying thrice daily to the Kindred God of Ferris, and taking into account your flammable nature, I am certain you will burn in hell. Or Second Hell. Whatever. Point is, because all you Wiccans are vegan, Wiccan hell is a place where they only serve chicken sandwiches gobbed with mayonnaise, and unless you’re ready for an eternity of dairy-goo-soaked fowl, we’d better find a way out of this quick-like.

First, about the coveting: There exist tenets in most religions to discourage or outright forbid you, Turpentine, from yearning for your neighbor’s voluptuous wife-goods. Wicca, as I will address, is no exception. Fortunately, though, such seemingly hard-line rules are often written in figurative language, thus opening them up to blatant misinterpretation—a practice which, owing to my stint as an aide in the Bush Administration, I am expert in.

But this Commandment parallels the exact idea behind the Wiccan elemental edict Yorba 15 (although the Christian telling fails to reference Vork the Tree Master). Take for example Christianity’s Ten Commandments (having been a Sunday School teacher in Sri Lanka, I possess an understanding of Christianity that makes St. Thomas Aquinas look like Thomas Kinkade): Commandment V or XI reads: “Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife, or his goods, or especially his chickens.” I know what you’re thinking: If you were a Christian chauvinist who also romanticized women as chickens, you’d be wildly screwed here.

But this Commandment parallels the exact idea behind the Wiccan elemental edict Yorba 15 (although the Christian telling fails to reference Vork the Tree Master), which, as an orthodox Wiccan, you would have memorized and recited for your 16th-birthday pruning ceremony. So you see, Turpentine, there is no dodging sin, and whether you’re Wiccan, Christian, or Zoroastrian matters not. Most religions possess some saying or another that forbids your lascivious longings—until examining their language more closely, that is.

What is a “neighbor?” A neighbor may be defined roughly as “one who lives in close proximity.” If your neighbors are anything like my neighbors, you hate them, so we should be able to rule out your best buddy as one of them for purposes of this argument. On the off chance he does live near you, remember: As long as he does not live directly next door to you, you’re not really breaking any of these “neighborly” rules, regardless of what your Mormon-Wiccan masters may tell you. So throw off all your reservations and covet away, Turpentine, but only after you marvel at my inscrutable logic capabilities. (I led my high school debate team to the state championship 36 times.)

But you’re not off the fast track to Hell quite yet, T. What deep-seated yearnings were you subconsciously attempting to manifest when you created a smokin’ hot avatar to reflect so closely the drool-worthy bodily proportions of your road dog’s main thang? (I am assuming she is amply packing trunk. If not, why am I wasting my time with this question?) Was it simple affection, or something deeper and more sinister lurking in the dark recesses of your Frankensteinian soul?

We’ve established that you are harboring amorous feelings for this mamacita caliente (bred llamas in Argentina during my late teens, thanks), even going so far in your query as to put the word mature in “quotes.” You want the world to know that your “feelings” are “sexual,” and that “you” are a “horn dog.” But you didn’t think you could fool the Non-Expert, did you? The real issue here is your desire to play God.

In your religion of Hinduism (a Hindu Mormon Wiccan? Have you called Guinness about this?), an avatar is the bodily incarnation of a higher being. (In case you were wondering, I practiced Hindu in 18 previous lives. Om shanti shanti shanti.) Deifying a mortal being by placing your homeboy’s wife on a pedestal is not healthy, and will only unjustifiably perpetuate your illusive hopes of bedding this disturbingly beautiful vixen. Plus it’s blasphemous as fuck.

By creating, eating, and enjoying the sandwich, you only inflate the ire of Lord Ganesha, Elephantine Destroyer of Pride. Does this sound like someone you want to piss off? But let’s be fair and consider the possibility that this lady is in fact a god. I’m pretty sure most religions forbid something about creating false idols in God’s likeness. (What am I saying? I’m positive, of course.) If you’re talking about a beer-can castle or some wicked Dutch-oven action, then created is an acceptable verb. If, however, you are arrogantly suggesting that you created the bodily incarnation of a deity, Turpentine, then you’re heading into treacherous territory. This is God’s work. With the exception of Jerry Falwell, humans cannot act as God, and in no manner should defy God.

On somewhat of a side note: It strikes me as odd, sir, that you’ve created a female avatar for yourself. (Forgive me if the presumption that you are male is an incorrect one, but how many women are best friends with married straight males?) Is this a cry for help? People generally express gender dysphoria in more subtle ways, but here you have announced it through a megaphone donning clown regalia in the middle of Times Square. If what you desire is to turn your rocket into a pocket—and by all means, do what makes you happy—then I think a trip to Thailand may be in order. (I’ll even go with, if you want; I’m fluent in Thailandish.)

We’ve now come full circle back to that chicken sandwich, Turpentine. From Moses and the Golden Calf to Yungbar and the Platinum Alpaca, religious history has taught us that no god comes before the one God, whatever god that may be, or whatever—unless there are lots of gods, and then they go in a certain order. Anyway, by creating, eating, and enjoying the sandwich, you only inflate the ire of Lord Ganesha, Elephantine Destroyer of Pride. Does this sound like someone you want to piss off?

While heading up the Classic Literature Department at Princeton, I often relayed the following tale to students: The Titan Prometheus stole fire from the gods and provided it to man. This act was called hubris—a term whose origin comes from Hubra, Greek goddess of chickens—and it enraged Zeus, who then ordered the guy’s liver picked out every single day by a mean-ass half-dolphin half-bird. This sucked very badly for Prometheus, who should never have had the audacity to transgress divine law and order the chicken sandwich.

If you do not make spiritual amends, Turpentine, your hubris, like that of Prometheus, will be punished mercilessly by Zeus, who is fond of hurling lightning, and who you wouldn’t have had to worry about if you’d just stick to one religion. Get right with God, you capricious nympho.

One final note, as pointed out by my editor: It recently dawned on me that you could be referring to a video game. If that is the case, my advice is still sound and 100-percent applicable. Having beaten Arkanoid over 50 times, I am an authority on such things. Asalam Alaikum.