By the end of August 1992, I had packed my bags and left my hellhole, drug-den apartment. For a few days I was slumming it on my sisters couch until it was time to roll out for Briercrest. The adjustment to not seeing passed out strangers in the hall and blood in the bathtub was surprisingly easy.
After my treasonous protestant baptism, I had pretty much burned my bridges going back to the Catholic fold. But that didn’t stop Grandma from putting up one last attempt to storm the castle. And as far as attempts go, she went all in.
First, let me give you all an insight into the Catholic way of doing things. There are two types of Catholics: The Easter and Christmas kind who might annually confess their sins plus the ones they plan to commit the upcoming weekend. That was my family. The church was the New Delhi call center to the Almighty.
The second kind are far more committed to the faith…especially if it has been in the family for generations. Such was Grandma. That dame took it seriously.
So when my dear grandmother caught wind that I just got baptized and was doing an end-run around Pope John Paul II by soon going to a *gasp*…protestant college, that crap wasn’t going to stand on her watch without Papal approval. As such, she brought in the heavy artillery. Remember, my family had easy access to clergy and that meant I was about to spend a delightful afternoon with nun-on-a-mission, Sister Mary-Ann.
I was about to head out for the day when I notice from my sister’s balcony, Grandma walking over. She has company, and I’d been a Catholic long enough to know who was in tow. Still, I just thought they were hanging out. Nope. They were coming over for a social visit with me in particular; the family’s very own apostate. My sister going out for a few hours suddenly made sense.
Despite what Sister Act would imply, nuns are not really that fun to be around. Sure, they’re friendly, but how carefree can one be having never known the fiery passion of being deflowered? That knowledge can be distracting in a conversation. Here was a seventy-year-old woman who had never handled a rough-n’-tumble set of balls. I mean, I hadn’t managed to succeed in the sex department either, but I consoled myself that at least I had aspirations for marrying a hot babe and getting freaky.
Grandma spent some time in the kitchen “cleaning” while Sister Mary-Ann approached me very directly, as nuns do.
“Your grandma says you are going to a Protestant college.”
Protestant was said in the same way one might hesitate when saying penis.
“That’s the word, Sister.” I say. She correctly assumes that my obscure answer was in the affirmative.
“Why?” And then those cold, virgin eyes shot at me through coke-bottle thick glasses.
The ‘why’ wasn’t phrased as a question. Sister wasn’t asking out of polite curiosity. Rather, she wanted a bloody explanation and now as to why her friends grandson was flipping the Holy Roman Church the bird. So that “why” could be better translated as “explain yourself you treasonous bastard or I’ll gun you down and send you to Hell.”
It was an…interesting half hour. I said my piece rather calmly and demonstrated that I hadn’t joined the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Scientologists, a nudist colony or thought Jesus was king of the planet Zoltar.
She took it well enough, although I had a hard time gauging her expression. Reading nuns are like reading the face of a disinterested housecat. I’m certain a life of repressed sexual desire will do that. I maintained enough similar points to Catholicism and convinced her I wasn’t some kind of spiteful traitor waiting to nail my grievances to the church door. I was just skipping the middle-man.
Finally she turns to Grandma. “It’s ok. He’s just taking the Bible seriously.”
Even at the dull age of twenty, I felt that was an odd thing to hear. Especially from a nun. I mean, she didn’t? Speaking for myself, if I’m going to devote my life to denying the moist, rhythmic frictions of the flesh, it better be over something I take dang seriously. Even then, I would rather opt for an early death.
Satisfied that her grandson was not going to burn forever in the fires of Gehenna with the rest of those traitorous Protestants ( remember, I still had a family pass ), Grandma and Sister Mary-Ann wished me well on my endeavors. You know, I think I even saw the ol’ virgin smile at me. A few minutes later everyone was gone and I’m alone, convinced the world is far crazier than I ever could have guessed.