Basically — Jesus!

It’s almost 11:00 now, and I’m exhausted and have to work tomorrow, so I won’t have time to give this entry the detail I’d like, but basically — Jesus!

Mom is here. I met her at the airport, and after hello and how are you, she said "Praise the Lord!" and told me I need to lose weight. As we bused into the city, she invited me to visit her in Seattle, and said it would be affordable because I could stay in her house. I was non-committal; I'll probably visit some time, but it won’t be any time soon. She let the topic drift away but only for a while. Three more times tonight she invited me to visit her in Seattle, and each time the prospect seemed less inviting. She told me twice more that I need to lose some weight.

During dinner, as we talked about her friends and her church, she abruptly asked, “Do you believe in God?"

When she'd asked that question during her previous visit, I’d diplomatically sidestepped an answer by saying something like, ‘I’ll answer that question if you like, but you won’t like it.’ That deterred her then, but for this visit, I’d already decided that when she asked I’d answer. 

I answered: “No.”

She looked shocked, but c’mon, Mom, you know the answer is no. It’s been a few years, but you’ve asked before. I’ve told you ‘no’ before. 

And I had to tell her no again tonight, as she asked the same question in different ways. “What about the miracles?” and “What about the wonder of life?” and so on. I tried changing the subject but she wouldn’t have it, so for all her variations on the question I answered no, no, no, and no. She was close to tears but wouldn’t stop asking, and then she broke into a big smile and told me I shouldn’t have a third piece of pizza. And thank God, she let us talk about other things.

A few hours later, in her hotel room, she was talking about a play she’d seen the previous weekend, when without warning she asked, “Who is Jesus?”

“I think we both know who Jesus was.”

“Yes, but who is Jesus to you?”

“A swear word,” I said. “A historical figure, like George Washington or Karl Marx.” 

“Jesus is more than a historical figure,” she said, and I sensed a sermon brewing. “He’s here in this room, and He hears everything we say.”

“Well, that’s mighty rude of him, eavesdropping like that.” 

Humor wouldn’t derail her, though, and the sermon was underway. I let her God-talk for a few minutes, then said, “Mom, please, you know what they say about politics and religion. They’re two subjects best left out of the conversation, all right?”

“No, it’s not all right. I’m worried about your immortal soul…”

Growing impatient, I clapped my hands in front of my face, three times quickly, to interrupt. “Come on, Mom. If you’re worried about my immortal soul, please worry only when I’m out of the room.”

She simply smiled at me, and said nothing for a while, but I know my mom’s smiles and this was her forced smile.

“Are you mad at God?” she asked.

“I’m not ‘mad at God’, Mom. I just find him boring, okay?” And nonsensical, and fictional, and cruel, and so much more I could’ve said — but God means a lot to her, so I didn’t want to explain in extended detail why her ‘God’ has no place in my life.

My mom knows me, of course, and maybe read my mind, because she relented, and said nothing more about God — tonight, anyway. We talked about family and distant family and dead family. Then we said good night, and I elevatored up to my room, and I’m certain she’s praying for me at this moment.

She wonders why I’m in no hurry to say yes to her visit-me-in-Seattle invitations? To stay in her living room and talk about Jesus every morning, midday, and night?

This is my mother. She’s come a thousand miles to see me. I want to be nice. I gotta be nice. I was nice and I will be nice. But Jesus is a swear word, and Jesus I’m saying Jesus a lot in this room right now.

From Pathetic Life #3
Tuesday, August 16, 1994

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.


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