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Note: The Life as a Loser series is ending at No. 200, which will run on March 29, 2004. There are now 10 left.


Father, I have sinned. Father, I have sinned many, many times.

Humans are sinners. You are not alone. We are born into sin, and God's love is what gives us absolution.

Yes, but I have pretended not to be a sinner. I have built a facade of amiability, a force field of affable jocularity. I have used it to disguise my guilty soul. I do not


think I am worthy of absolution.

You're moving too quickly, my son. Just tell me your sins. You have mentioned that you are not Catholic, so, on the whole, this is kind of off the record.

So I can just go into it, then?

Go ahead. We'll go off the meter on this one.

When I was in college one summer, I was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper. A professor at the University had been raped by another, more tenured professor. The rapist was respected and well-regarded, so when the story hit our paper, people were more inclined to believe him than the anonymous accuser. It was awful, really; not only did this poor woman have to suffer this horrible invasion, but she was unable to defend herself against character accusations. My newspaper was of little help; we could only present his side of the case.

Yes. Go on.

Well, one day, she called my desk at the newspaper. She wanted to arrange a meeting to tell her side of the story. We wouldn't use her name, but she trusted us, she trusted me, to make things square. She scheduled a meeting for the next day at 8 a.m. with myself and two of my editors. But that night, because we were college students, we drank heavily and did illicit drugs at alarmingly high levels all night.

The body is a temple. You soiled the sacred temple.

Yeah, yeah, whatever, I know, fine, but that's not my point. We stayed up all night and passed out about 6 a.m. We were woken up by a newspaper staffer at noon, who had taken a very angry call from this poor woman, wondering why we had skipped her meeting. We had a chance to help this woman, and we were too busy being young and reckless and stupid. She would not reschedule, and months later, with no support, she left the University. The professor is still there, likely doing other horrible, horrible things. I could have stopped it. I could have done something. But I only cared about myself and my own irresponsibilities.

That is bad.

This is not all, Father. Years ago, I feared I had impregnated my girlfriend. I didn't, but I thought I had, and I learned that I was a monster. She had just moved to a new city, and all she knew in town was me. She called me at work and said she was late. We would have to take a pregnancy test that night. I cared about her, but I cared about myself much more. I cared more about my work, and my career, and my social life, than I did about what she was going through.

The Church frowns on premarital sex. It is considered adultery.

Please. Will you stop interrupting me with such piffle?

Go on.

So I went with her and she took the test. We sat on her roof, smoking cigarettes, silent, afraid to move, as we waited for the results, downstairs, in the bathroom. She looked at me and asked me to check. She couldn't do it. I said I couldn't either. So I left.

That's terrible.

I know, Father. I know. I was young and stupid. But that is no excuse. I came back upstairs half-an-hour later, and she said the test was negative. We'd dodged a bullet. I took this as a new lease on life, evidence that I was meant to free. Less than a week later, I broke up with her, over the phone, leaving her alone in a city she had only moved to because of me.

You jerk.

I have cheated on girlfriends in the past. I have done it not because the relationship was bad, or because the woman did not care about me. I did it only because I was selfish. I did it only because I could.

Did you ever tell the women?

What, are you nuts? Of course not. It's hard enough for me to tell you this.

Are you faithful now?

Yes. Of course. I have shed my evil ways. Those are long-past transgressions. I am a grown man now, with more firm loyalties, with deeper feelings, with a better understanding of what I want and need. I am attempting to reclaim my soul.

That is a start. But that doesn't make up for your sins of the past. You must speak to those you have hurt, and you must ask for forgiveness.

But I am weak. I want to go on like the past did not happen. I want a clean slate. I want to be cleansed. Can I have a clean slate? Can I be cleansed?

You cannot. Not until you make amends. Do you forgive yourself?

I do not.

Then there is your answer.

But I love my life now. I have things going for me, I have a woman who cares deeply for me, whom I respect and will follow and am faithful to, about whom I care deeply as well. I am working hard, I mean well, I will not do wrong by her or by anyone. I really will. Can I not be a new person?

You can. Are these all your sins? Have you given me everything?

Of course not, Father. I'm just getting started. I have done many horrible things.

I'm sorry. There is no hope for you. These sins have not been accounted for. The slate is not clean. I do not know what I can do for you.

So where does that leave us? Shall I go on?

Please don't. Listen. I have no help for you here. I am not sure why you have come here. Here's 20 bucks. Go get some whiskey and begin your downward spiral. You are not forgiven. This is my only advice to you.

But aren't sins supposed to be forgiven? Aren't we able to start anew? I feel as if I am running out of time to confess. I feel as if I must say what I can now, before I no longer can.

No. I don't care how clean you are now, what is done is done.

Thank you, Father.

You are not welcome. Now please leave.


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