My Pittsburgh Penguins are playing L'Ailee's beloved Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Finals! Now, I frequently joke that I support the Penguins because "penguins are so dang cute." It's fun to see the looks on serious hockey fans' faces. However, I really am excited. Either way, we get winning sports team sex! ;-) That and, well, I really admire how well Sidney Crosby's done at such a young age. Wouldn't it be something if he won the Stanley Cup before he could even legally drink a beer to celebrate? (Yeah, I’m sure bartenders all over Pittsburgh will look the other way, too. Still amazing.)
I loved watching Kasey Kahne win the All-Star Race, too. I mean, if my man Tony Stewart couldn't pull it off, it was great to watch the driver who was voted in by the fans get it. Kahne looked so gobsmacked! I have thought he's better than his equipment for the past couple years; this is just confirmation. The Speed Channel had a viewing party in NYC, and we considered going just to do something different. But the thing is, none of us really wanted to hassle with crowds, and we really wanted to talk with each other instead. So we did.
Actually, one of those conversations spilled over into the next day. A work friend, who is a liberal Christian, saw my Bibles and asked me about them. One was my late father's, I told her, and one was a prize I got for a "sword-sharpening drill" (Bible trivia challenge, basically) in Sunday School as a little girl, and one was a gift from my aunt. I like to have them around for reference as well as sentimental reasons. My friend then asked me why I left the church. I boiled the story down to the absolute essence, because frankly, it can be a bit of a downer and most people there had heard at least the medium-length version already.
"I don't think I was all that great a fit in the Assemblies of God anyway," I told her. "I loved my hip-hop, I asked questions all the time, and I hated trying to pressure people into becoming Christian. But I left because I came up here to visit colleges before my senior year, and I met this one"--pointing to L'Ailee--"and I really couldn't listen to the pastor talk about how awful gay people were anymore." I kissed L'Ailee's cheek, and she gave a shy little half-smile, and my friend seemed satisfied with that account.
On Sunday morning, I learned something about how that account made L’Ailee feel. She decided to get a question answered, finally, after fifteen years. Amidst the scattered pages of the Sunday Times and the sleeping cats and the syrup-covered plates I needed to pick up, she asked me, “Did you really leave your church just because of me?”
“Say what?” I brilliantly riposted.
“When you tell people why you left your old church, was it really just because of me?”
I didn’t know what to say to that. “Why do you ask? Do you want me to stop saying that?”
“Not if it’s true, darling. But it feels strange.”
“Because there is almost a fence between you and the rest of your family, most of the older ones, because you left that church. You were very confused. You studied religion so much, you thought so hard about it. You still enjoy talking about religion and reading about religion. Then you say, it’s all because of me that you left!”
“Well, do you want me to go back or something?” I didn’t quite get what she was driving at.
“No, of course not. But I…I feel bad. I didn’t want to make you leave it.”
“I wanted to leave it. It was my choice. I’m glad I did. I like being Pagan.” I couldn’t believe I had to *say* those things to her.
She gave me this laser-intense stare. “If you had never met me, do you think you would have left that church?”
“Oh, come on. I hate hypotheticals.”
“So do I. Please? Can you answer?”
I thought about it. “Yeah, I would’ve. Other things were driving me crazy about the church, you know. I really hated how they told me any music I wanted to listen to was wrong and how any interesting book or movie or magazine had something wrong with it. I was upset when the youth pastor wanted us to *burn* our stuff. I hated being told how to vote. I hated how they made God’s mind look so small. I hated being told I was tempting boys to sin by wearing patterned tights, but not a word about their tight jeans, you know? I’ve told you this!”
“I know. So you really would have left without me?”
“Eventually. I might have stuck it out until high school was completely over, maybe a couple years after that. Maybe I’d have met a guy they didn’t agree with, or another girl.” She scowled at that. “Though I can’t imagine a girl I’d have liked any better than you,” I added quickly, and she relaxed. “You know, I’d like to think that even if I hadn’t met any girls I liked, I’d have eventually figured out how fucked up their priorities were. I know I couldn’t have lived with that pressure to be perfectly perfect and try to convert all the non-Christians around me much longer. You know how I am with pressure.”
“You don’t like it.”
“I *hate* it. So yeah, it wasn’t just you. You did make me leave quicker than I might have. When they talked about gay people, I knew they meant me and not just some of my friends, and they were getting really hateful. You were, like, a catalyst. But I’m glad for that. I’m so glad I left. Every time my cousins talk about the crap they get, how they should feel guilty for even kissing a girl at the movies [I was speaking of the *boys*, dear readers] or listening to a Brad Paisley CD, I’m happy I’m not there. Besides, you didn’t tell me to be Pagan, and I’d probably have left for that if I’d seen it earlier. I’m really glad I had a few years’ break from religion, so I could see things a bit more clearly. You gave that to me, and you didn’t even try.” She nestled close to me. “Like a lot of things, you gave me and didn’t set out to.”
It finally hit me, why she asked me these things. “Did you feel, like, *guilty* or something?”
“I guess you could call it that.” L’Ailee doesn’t often speak in terms of “guilt.”
“I’m sorry to make you feel that way. I wish you’d tell me these things.”
“I didn’t know how to say it.”
“Do you want me to tell the story different next time?”
“If it is the way the story happened, then that is how you should tell it. But I don’t want people to think I, um, *seduced* you out of the church.”
I busted out laughing at that! My girl is enticing in many ways, but she’s far too reserved to be a seductress. “If anything, *I* seduced *you,* babydoll!” She didn’t argue with me on that one. “Besides, when have you ever, ever, *ever* made me do anything I don’t want to do?”
“A few times,” she said. “But you make me pay for it.”
“You’re damn right I do.” We both laughed at that. Then I hugged her, and then the words sort of stopped after that.
So now I hope things are perfectly clear. :-)
The ACLU’s new Blog of Rights
Same-sex couple households keep increasing all over America, including in places they’re supposedly not welcome.
An awesome little source for debates: Massachussetts, first state to legalize same-sex marriage, has very low STD and teen pregnancy rates compared to more conservative states.
Pledge virginity, get a chicken sandwich! And L’Ailee got a case of the guilts ‘cause I left…
Why don’t those hillbillies like Obama?
Dealing with the school bully epidemic
Sometimes I like to read obituaries because they tell a story of a life in a compact way. Adelaide "Su-Lin" Young died at 96. Her name was given to the first panda brought to America, as well as San Diego's lovely almost-three-year-old cub. Beyond that, she lived a rich and amazing life that will make you smile to read about...until you realize it's over.
Finally, fans of sweet Su Lin, precious Zhen Zhen, and their parents at the San Diego Zoo will be relieved to learn that this is just a joke!