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  LIFE AS A LOSER #132: "A Conversation Between My Mother and I About Catholicism (With My Side in Italics, So I Look Smarter)."  
   
   
 

(paraphrased, with occasional condensing and fictionalization when normal lags in conversation fail to lend themselves to compelling prose. also, when explanations of otherwise understood concepts are necessary, they are added into the conversation as if they actually happened, though, in actuality, they did not)

(phone rings)

Hey, whatís up, itís me?

Hello. Howís it going?

Good. Just finishing up my last day at work. Weíre all gonna go out to celebrate.

For as little as theyíve been paying you, they should buy all your drinks.

I donít think theyíll do that, Mom

Well, they should. Donít do anything stupid tonight.

Mom, I always do everything stupid. Surely you know this by now. Iím taking tomorrow (Friday) off so I can rest up. I donít want to show up for my first day at the new job smelling of gin.

Well, your father always shows up smelling of Natural Light, and heís had the same job for 30 years. Are you seeing (name of woman Will has gone on occasional dates with) this weekend?

I donít think so. Sheís out of town. You sure do ask about her a lot. I donít talk to you about girls anymore.

Yeah, I read your column last week. I gathered that. Well, I stopped reading about three-quarters of the way. I donít know why you write things like that.

I told you not to read them. Itís the best for both of us, trust me.

Iím gathering. Isnít she Catholic?

Who?

That girl.

(sigh) Yes. She is. Again, though, itís really not that big of a deal

Is she a good Catholic? Does she go to church every week?

Mom, I feel the need to ask you again why these matters are so important to you. You are a convert to the Catholic Church. You joined six years ago. But when I was a kid, you never went to church. I had to go on my own, with the neighbors coming to pick me up. Then you joined the Catholic Church after a "spiritual awakening," whatever that is. Iím happy for you. Itís certainly improved your life. But why would it make a difference to me whether anyone I hang out with is Catholic? You see, Ma ... Iím not Catholic.

Well, you should be. Weíll work on that. Is she a good Catholic?

Mom, she could be sacrificing goats to her lord Satan and drinking the blood of infidels while having sex with a horse and carving pentagrams into her forehead, and she would still be a better Catholic than me.

Well, I hope sheís not doing that.

I donít think she is. I can call and check if youíd like

Why donít you go to church anymore?

I watch football on Sundays.

Church is over with by the time football starts. Thatís just an excuse.

Of course it is, Mom. I donít have a problem with the church, Ma, or Catholicism. I just donít really care all that much. Iím young and indestructible. Iíll worry about such matters when Iím older and living in the suburbs and car pooling and having my special Friday night dinner at the Outback.

Whatís the Outback?

Itís a chain restaurant. They donít have them in Mattoon. Youíre missing my point. I donít really have time to go to church, and I donít have an overpowering desire to go anyway.

You used to go to church every Sunday. You went to all the youth group functions and even went to go see Christian concerts. There must have been something there. And donít give me that "I was just trying to meet girls" crap either.

Mom, I was 15. There were so many sins of the flesh I hadnít even heard of yet.

I wish you wouldnít say things like that.

Yeah, that was kind of gross. Youíre my mom. I think I just weirded myself out.

I mean, do you realize how hard it is for a mom not to know where her children would go if they were hit by a bus tomorrow?

Well, I appreciate your optimism. Whatís the odds on Hell for me?

Itís not odds, Will. I think church would be very good for you. Settle you down a little.

Mom, I spent last evening shopping for televisions and playing video football. Iím not Motley Crue. I live a rather sedate life. I just ... well, I see how much peace church has given you, and Iím always happy to go with you when Iím home, but I have enough about myself to figure out before I start worrying about church

Church will take away some of those worries.

Not if I have to tithe.

Iím just saying, a good Catholic girl would be wonderful for you. Youíre not getting any younger. When I was your age, you were three years old.

Mom ... no ... donít.

I mean, I was at the neighbors the other day, and I saw their kids, and I kept thinking how nice it would be to have grandchildren.

Here we go. Mom, I canít even take care of my cat.

Well, Iím glad you got that new job anyway. But donít you want a little balance in your life?

I like my imbalance. And, to be honest, all those statues of a nearly naked Jesus scare me.

Yeah, they scare me too.

Can we talk about this later? The work folks are ready to leave.

Oh, fine. You always cut off these conversations.

I know.

What are you writing about this week?

Oh, you probably. Iím gonna be really busy this weekend, so Iíll probably just dash something off when I have a spare half hour. I hate to do that, but sometimes, you have to.

What will you write about?

This conversation, maybe. I havenít covered much of the Catholicism stuff in there.

Donít give out my age.

Mom, honestly, please stop reading my columns. Theyíll only make you upset.

And donít make me sound like some old lady either.

I have to go. Have a nice night. Iíll call you sometime next week.

OK. Donít give out my age. And go to church. They have such beautiful churches in New York.

Church is on Sundays, right?

Yes. It is.

 

*BT*

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