Bear with me —

So an old man is wandering down a deserted, unpaved country lane, on a Sunday, in the middle of nowhere. As he strolls, he stubs his toe hard on a stone protruding from the road. The old man proceeds to let out a stream of curses, calling the rock “Beelzebub,” “damn devil rock,” “Mephisto” and all those other words for the evil spirit that the Directed Studies kids know by heart. Anyway, the angel Michael overhears the old man cursing. Now, although he understands that the old man is in a lot of pain, Michael absolutely detests cursing of any kind — especially on the Lord’s Day. No creation of God, not even a measly, interfering stone, deserves to be referred to as the Devil. It is a word one should not use lightly. And besides, any mention of the Devil makes Michael really mad. So Michael floats down invisibly from heaven to teach the old man a lesson.

The angel, unseen, cries: “Name not Satan at a stone, man!”

The plot thickens. The old man, realizing at once that he is hearing a voice from heaven, begins apologizing profusely for the error of his ways. But the old man, being religious and somewhat acquainted with angels, also begins to wonder why the heavenly voice does not sound like the angel Michael should. Instead of the usual “author of evil, unknown till thy revolt, unnamed in heav’n, now plenteous –” drivel, Michael’s voice sounds instead like those stupid turtles from “Finding Nemo.” And what kind of angel says “man,” anyway? What the old man does not realize is that the archangel Michael has been doing bong rips for hours. He is more stoned than St. Steven after an evening with the council. In fact, Michael has become almost as bad as Satan himself. Over the course of his most recent pot binge, he has begun to idolize his marijuana — to worship it, to pour out his whole heart to it, and to make declarations in its name. He suffers from nasty cases of the munchies, eating until he makes himself vomit.

One day, Michael, after satisfying a craving for chips and salsa super nausea, cries in a disembodied heavenly voice to his pothead friends: “Dogs! I ban nachos, Oh Cannabis God!”

Michael’s angelic friends quickly realize that he has a problem. The Archangel cannot be permitted to continue worshipping the cannabis. So Jesus, Gabriel, and Uriel decide that what Michael needs is to relax, stay away from the drugs, and study some Daoism. They figure: Daoists are really relaxed and cool. Maybe this can help Michael calm down. So they give Michael a challenge: go down to Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and help spread the teachings of Daoism any way you can. So in case you didn’t know, as of Monday, Nov. 3, the Archangel Michael has been at Yale University. Sent down from Heaven, he is among us at this very moment. He is single-mindedly pursuing his task of spreading Daoism to all Yalies and his first event is this Saturday.

Yale Road Races: A Base-car, Dao relay.

The rules are simple. Teams of students, competing for a prize of guaranteed salvation, must take turns racing around campus in cars, spreading the Dao. Whichever team manages to spread the most Dao in its car wins. Michael relaxes, the Dao gets spread, and students get saved. Everybody wins.

I confess, some of what I have just written isn’t true. Some of it is my hallucinations after too many sleepless nights, the rest speaks to my insatiable passion for palindromes. See, I told you to bear with me. Why can’t I get enough of these crazy flip-floppers? They make a great distraction in class — no teacher can ever tell that you aren’t taking notes. They make wonderful, witty away messages. They make great birthday presents. People are usually very impressed by palindromes for some reason. Finishing a palindrome gives me a powerful feeling of accomplishment. A feeling more satisfying than anything else in the world — ever. I never get tired of reading a palindrome backward and seeing that it actually works. I would recommend that everyone start trying it.

If anyone else is hooked like I am, I recommend Michael Donner’s book of palindromes, “I Love Me, Vol. I.” Next week, I move on to anagrams and Stefan Fatsis’ “Word Freak.” Also, my copy of “Paradise Loft. A Poem in Twelve Books” by John Milton. It is the second edition, revifed and augmented by the fame author and printed by S. Simmons, London, 1674.

As the ditzy girl in my French class says: Juste kidding! It’s Norton.

Andrew Smeall tried to make a palindrome with his name. It’s the Smeall that kills it.