I was standing on the pulpit as the priest crossed his shoulders and spat out some unmemorable prayer about original sin. As he was finishing his harmonic and ironically frightening hum of a prayer I peered across the crowd of churchgoers and family members. There was my Mother, Father, Grandmother, Great Grandmother, Great Grandfather, Cousin, Uncle, and friend Jesus Christ himself-- artistically crafted into the church window. As the priest finished his prayer and touched upon the “holy water” I couldn’t stop looking at all of my family members. I couldn’t hide from the mass of friends that were there to pray for my soul. I couldn’t blanket Virgin Mary’s all knowing eyes. She looked at me like she knew something I didn’t. And then there was the Jesus window. That fucking Jesus window. I looked across the entire church as my soul was being forever washed clean and all I could think was “what the fuck did I just do?”
Everyone had his or her god but me. I was stuck. My siblings were baptized Christian but my parents left me unclaimed for any of evil idol to swarm in and lay a formal residence on my soul. I never fully understood religion but I understood I was left out. And I still understand that The Exorcist was a terrible movie to watch when you were ten.
In retrospect my parents were doing me a favor. They were letting me make my own decision about religion, and now I understand I decided to make that decision too early.
I became more curious around the age of twelve. I would hear stories of original sin and doomed souls being casted into the fiery gates of hell for doing, well, absolutely nothing. We were born with sin! How the fuck did I not know of this? My parents never told me that mankind fucked up so badly so early that our ancestors ancestors would spread their sins to us like an ongoing genetic virus we can only cure by dipping our heads into purified, prayed upon, holy water. I knew I didn’t understand. I knew it made no sense. I knew I couldn’t trust not having it done. So at the ripe old age of thirteen I asked my mom if I could be baptized into Catholicism.
My great grandmother always told my mom that I was going to become a priest. For a second, before she died, I wanted to make her dream come true. At least she died with a shred of hope that one of her very own had the slightest possibility of pursuing the chivalrous crown of “yeah the fuck right grandma” that is Pope hood. I can never do anything just barely. If I was going to pursue a life of god I was going to do it all the way-- Catholicism, priest hood, and sure why not, make me the fucking pope.
My parents were skeptical. As they rightfully should have been. This is same pyromaniac kid who set off fireworks, cursed like a sailor, and asked his dying grandmother why she was wearing “that awful wig”. What business did I have for wanting to be baptized? I guess it was the same as everyone’s. God most likely doesn’t exist. Heaven most likely is a fairy tale. But tell a nine year old about the existence of hell and he would do everything in his power not to go there. Except quitting masturbation and selling off his fireworks.
When I was old enough to think for myself I was going all in. Catholicism I’m all yours. Take me lord my savior, take me and never let me go.
I started taking catechism classes shortly after telling my parents about my purposed plans. I was always a good student. I never received straight A’s because I never wanted to. School was easy and so was catechism. My teachers loved me. Play the fiddle and pretend like I had to work for that B average. Teachers always loved the kid with a B average. It says, “hey I get it but I’m still a fucking kid.” I played it how I wanted. I studied the scripture, referred to the “Bread” as Jesus’s body, the “wine” as his blood. I referred to it as Jesus himself, because I knew that's what my teacher wanted. In my mind I couldn’t believe that all Catholics were closeted cannibals. Jesus died for our sins, came back, and eventually got churned into bite-sized edibles that really don’t taste all that great. Tasting the “body of Christ” is like leaving a Triscuit cracker out on the counter for a month.
But this all came after.
We would read dumbed down versions of bible stories. We weren’t ready for the real shit. The murder, the floods, the rape, the blackmail, the death. We weren’t ready for what our actual god is capable of doing. We were all about thirteen. Most of us were going for our first communion, but I was still trying to become baptized. My teacher asked me, why? Why now? I told her I wanted the Holy Ghost to free my soul from original sin and eternal damnation, but it was all a mask. I didn’t fucking know why. What thirteen year-old understands or really gives a shit about any of this?
“And you eventually want communion?”
“I would love nothing more than to accept the body of Christ.”
I was fucking good. This baptism would be happening in no time.
Whether I believed what I said or not, I sure was committed.
That Sunday my family and friends poured in. My mom threw a party. We’ll call it the Here’s to going to heaven party. People came pouring in and so did the cards and the presents. Holy-Shit-thank-Jesus. I never thought that my dedication to god would bring such lavish gifts, but it did. It brought check after check. I was rolling a thousand dollars deep by the end of the day. I would be setting off fireworks and jerking it to playboy in no time. It didn’t even bother me that I was probably doing this for all the wrong reasons. It did bother me that my great grandmother was so proud. Apparently she had been bragging about me for months. Well fuck Grandma, get your shit together, will ya’? I’m doing this-- just in case.
Just in case all the crazy bible thumpers were right.
Just in case
Who am I kidding? I can count the number of times I’ve been to church on one hand.
Whom am I kidding?
There will be no rapture for this kid—
I went into catechism to free my soul and I came out an Atheist. I was far too deep to turn around now. I didn’t believe anything. I was a thirteen-year-old atheist scheduled for baptism in three hours. Screw original sin I’m going to hell for sure. I read the lord’s message and laughed at it.
It was far too late. I’ll just have to bite the bullet and put on a show. If I can fool my catechism teacher, a woman of god, I can fool everyone.
And here I am
I’m standing on the pulpit and the priest just washed away my sins. He's so damn serious I can't help but laugh. He thinks it's a happy laugh and smiles back. My hair is wet with prayed upon water and my family is clapping proudly. My great grandmother even cries a little. Get it together Grandma; I did this just in case.
I smile and look at the Jesus window.
He looks back. Almost pissed.
“Fuck off Jesus”