This is not the juiciest part. But I think maybe the point of this little exercise is giving you the not juiciest part, so maybe you want to read more?
The picture is of me & my second car.
The names have been changed to protect God’s Lambs.
It is me and five grownups, we’ll call them Dave, George, Eunice, Fran, and Ed. I know them, sort of. I have seen their benevolent faces rapt in the observance of our weekly, music-filled worship. They are my fellow youth group members’ parents. They are solid in their understanding of what it means to be Christian. They know the bible. They pray. They do not sin.
Still, I sit there thinking, the music in the church services I attend is not emotive. It lacks a rise and trill that I hear when I listen to my mom’s old Captain and Tennille tapes, or The Carpenters.
I love Karen Carpenter. I have recorded the song “Desperado” onto a tape over and over again so that I can listen to it for hours. It is sad like I am sad, but I spend a lot of time and energy pretending not to be.
How could I be sad with the light of the Lord in my soul? When Karen croons, her melodious alto seeps into me, the rhetorical, “why don’t you come to your senses?” is a call to action I do not clearly grasp, I only know that I feel it in my bones, in my groin, the way I feel the multiple and intense crushes I have on mostly poorly behaved male classmates, even though I feel so different I am often worried about being a lesbian.
I feel like a mind trapped in a body that has been trained to strictly follow rules, to recite John 3:16 without thinking. For God so loveth the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. I was five when I memorized that old fart King James’s stilted rhetoric.
I repeated it over and over until I knew it. I repeated it the way I would later repeat words like couch and moth and notice how after so many repetitions the words became just configurations of the mouth backed by unintelligible sounds. The words do not mean anything to me on that evening. I will not actually look up the word begotten until college.
I am sixteen. I have my own car. I take myself to the meeting. Before I leave, my mother says, “Good luck!”
I am at the meeting to pitch my idea for a drama worship team. I want to put on very short morality plays and I have collected a giant box of costumes, found a play about not drinking, and even held a rehearsal.
I have discovered plays at high school, but I am afraid of the secular drama kids’ loose and low embrace of their sexuality, of their language, the delicious consonants of forbidden curses like fuck and shit and concepts that literally gross me out like snowballing and fisting.
I am afraid of the drama kids because what they do appeals to me, it looks like fun, but it is fun that God doesn’t like, fun that will disappoint my parents, will break commandments, and will get me on the fast train to H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks.