Friday, October 15, 2010
Searching for the skull ring and losing one's religion
You know the once ubiquitous REM song "losing my religion" isn't religiously based at all? "Losing My Religion" is southern slang for going crazy, or losing one's senses. I was raised Catholic, or at least there was a respectable attempt, albeit a failed one, at raising me to be Catholic. I can pinpoint when I decided that the Catholic religion was a Costco sized load of horse shit, and I was all of nine years old.
It was the summer of 1989 and I was spending my summer vacation in Flagstaff with my dad Charlie. Charlie, as wonderful a man as he may be, is also a staunch Catholic who abides by all its archaic, sprit depleting rituals and routines. One of the more preposterous routines Catholics entertain is the act of entering the confessional. This is where you go after you have committed an act deemed sinful by the church, or the throbbing sense of guilt the church has instilled in you, and you enter a small, low lit room to tell a Price Is Right Fan/AARP cardholder that you "done fucked up". Let's say you tell the person on the other side of the room that you really love Slayer (and lets be honest, who doesn't)? But Slayer promotes pure evil and the raining of blood (not necessarily bad things) and you know you shouldn't be allowing your soul to be sullied by the likes of Slayer. Gramps, not listening at all but instead contemplating Andy Griffith's career, knows nothing about Slayer and just tells you to go home and do an arbitrary number of prayers to cleanse your soul after listening to Slayer.
I suppose you could argue that some adults could use a moral compass and perhaps the church provides that, but in 1989 in was 9 years old. And there I was entering the confessional to tell Father Matlock Fan that I had....Well damn, I hadn't really done anything. I swore a lot when at least a miles distance from my mothers puritan ears. I had watched the Revenge Of The Nerds multiple times with my brother, but only because he insisted, dare I say demanded, multiple viewings as he seemed to really enjoy scenes with gratuitous shots of gratuitous 1980s pubic hair (i.e., big bushes) and the panty raids. These scenes instinctively led me to cover my eyes because unlike my brothers roaring hormones, mine were still lying dormant and naked women were still strictly filed under "gross". But I figured I should mention that movie and my dropping of copious amounts of F-Bombs to Father "Cocoon" Extra. He mumbled something about this many Hail Mary's and that many Our Fathers, I gave him the thumbs up and walked out of the confessional.
My father noted that my confessional time clocked in at less that 2 minutes. I explained to him that I didn't really have much to fess up to, so it was more of a drive thru f-bomb thing, and less of a murder/cannibalism sit down and fess up to a whole lot thing. He said he knew why I rushed through confessional, and it's because of that damned ring.....Ah yes, the ring. My sister was dating a guy that dressed like a biker, only like many guys that dress like bikers, didn't have a motorcycle, a job and was probably incarcerated at some point. Carey the Faux-Biker was no different. He was nice enough to me though. Nice enough to give me a ring that no 9 year old should have been walking around with on his or her hand. It had all the adornments a biker could ask for in their jewelry: spikes, kaiser helmet, skull. And I really loved the ring as I knew no biker gang would ever have me, not even to run their bake sale. Yes as much as I loved the ring, I had misplaced it somewhere in my Dad's enormous Station Wagon. So I had to locate my ring as it was as close as I would come to being a threatening, Hog riding, Motorhead listening biker, which is a phase substantially worse than your gothic or new wave haircut phase.
But yes, Charlie was right. My mind was not on my salvation, but fixated on that ring and how badly I wanted to wear it into my 4th grade class to lessen the amount of times I was referred to as "Lukey Dukey". So not being the type of Catholic to allow half-hearted confessionals, Charlie told me to "get my ass back in there". This is where my bull shit detector sailed into the red. I was cashed out as far as sins to divulge were concerned and I was being sent back into to tell Father Matlock Fan a fresh batch of indiscretions? To do this, I'd have to make things up as I really was a good kid and didn't do too many bad things. I could own up to the JFK assassination, expound at great length on how much I love all of those records Ozzy did with Black Sabbath and try in vain to convince a man of the cloth that if he gave War Pigs a chance, he might see its an anti-war song, which is something his man Jesus could get behind.
Instead, I just went into the confessional and remembered that my sisters had sent me to the store to get candy bars and soda, only to short change me. Lest I return home missing something my sisters had asked for, I decided to steal a candy bar. I mentioned that to the priest, who recognized my voice and asked "back so soon?" Seeing how I was repeat offender, he upped the number of Hail Mary's and Our Fathers and told me to "be good out there". I said "I will, uhm, Father". It was the last time I was in a confessional and one of the last times I was in a Catholic church. I could be wrong, but take your God of choice and ask them if they give a good God damn, no pun intended, whether or not I watched the Revenge of the Nerds, or dropped the F-Bomb? Ok, I know, the Baby Ruth. I shouldn't have done that. I'm sorry for that one., but not the others. But you factor in the irrelevance in what I had done, and then my having to fess up to said god's representative in a room slightly larger than a closet and it starts to seem utterly ridiculous.
After that I stopped buying into Catholicism and started to rethink spirituality along with organized religions. I know you're looking for a morale of this story, dear readers, so lets see....Uhm, well, first off, if you're going to get into a fight that could result in a nights stay in jail, wear a biker ring as whoever gets hit by one of those things is definitely calling into work the next day. Also, if you're going to sin, and tell a man of the cloth about it afterwards, sin big. I'm not saying rob a bank, just go hog wild without committing murder or federal offenses. And lastly, know that while it is a wonderful film, Revenge of The Nerds is not worth eternal damnation. Congregation, please rise.....