April 29, 2008
I am beginning to
feel like the Almighty’s latrine.
Rewind. I had a
great weekend at Natalie’s place in Ottawa. It was fabulous and at some point another column may follow about it.
Then I got back to this
town and God shit on me. Nothing I can’t handle, but still. I wound
up in the emergency room again after I coded out.
Never fear girls, I’m
a lawyer and the only way you can kill us is with a stake through the heart –
and you have to locate my heart first.
Good luck, God!
Have fun trying to find it!
Here in Canada, once
you go into hospital, they register your religion and since I’m a regular at
every hospital in the province, it’s on file. If you’re really ill or in
crisis and the poking and prodding and the machines and the dire pronouncements
don’t seem to scare you, when you’re Catholic they send the priests along.
Bah…you don’t scare
I like a good magic
Hands up ladies, all
of you who’ve had the Last Rites. It’s called Extreme Unction or the
Anointing of the Ill and while it’s not exclusively reserved for those about to
kick the bucket, they do tend to save it for those who are rattling the bucket
And apparently, they
were concerned enough about how unsteady MY bucket was that they called a holy
If you’re into
witchcraft, Extreme Unction is kind of neat.
Here’s how it goes.
This guy comes in –
he’s wearing black, so already I’m predisposed to like him but then he gets all
dressed up – he even brings a kit with him. Ever seen the Exorcist?
It’s like that.
He puts on this
really pretty purple scarf, mutters some stuff under his breath and then opens
his kit. He hauls out some olive oil (it’s special olive oil –
consecrated and, I’m going to assume, extra virgin). Ooh,
and it’s been blessed by a bishop.
First, he engages you
in some small talk. “How are you feeling?” he might begin with, or maybe
“Nice weather we’re having.”
But once that purple
sash goes on, it’s down to business.
While the small talk
is going on, he sounds normal, but once the magic act begins, for some odd
reason he seems to morph into an Amish person, or at least that’s what he
sounds like. He dabs you with the olive oil on your eyes, ears, nostrils,
lips and hands while saying (at each location) words to the effect of
"Through this holy unction and His own most tender mercy may the Lord
pardon thee whatever sins or faults thou hast committed by sight (by
hearing, smell, taste, touch, walking, carnal delectation)".
It takes a while, and
trust me: I had a hard time keeping a straight face.
Especially since I
was conjuring scenarios as I was listening to him and I can say without fear of
contradiction that I was the least mournful of any the recipients of Extreme
Unction he’d ever come across.
I was sitting in a
hospital bed in the ER with an enormous shit-eating grin on my face, for all
the world looking like I was having the time of my life.
Because I *was*.
I know I probably
should have been taking this a bit more seriously, but I couldn’t stop
smirking. It was all just so absurd. Instead of reflecting on my
life, sand through the hourglass and reconciling myself to possibly meeting my
Maker, the only thought that passed through my mind was “Oh, for fuck’s
sake! Can I go home now?”
How, for example,
could I have possibly have smelled my way into a sin? Or heard one?
Or tasted one? Walked into one?
The whole exercise led
me to believe that there must’ve been WAY more fun I could have been getting up
to out there without having a frigging clue what I was missing.
I felt cheated.
What could possibly smell
so delicious that the Catholic Church would consider it sinful? If the
Vatican in its eternal wisdom figured you could smell something so dangerous to
your soul that without absolution you’d burn in hell forever, I’ve obviously
been missing out on something GREAT.
could it be?? I thought furiously as he prayed over me.
Being at the bottom
of a pile of naked, sweaty firemen!!!
Given the HUGE grin
on my face and the tingling I was experiencing in my nether regions at the very
thought of it, this MUST be it.
This must also
qualify for the sinful-by-taste category too. And then some. WHOO-HOO!! My grin got
Who’d’ve thought that
it would take a sacrament to come to this epiphany?
My God, all those
wasted years! I should’ve thought of this ages ago! Get this damn
IV out of me! Disconnect this heart monitor! I’ve got some sinning
Where’s the closest fire
When he finished his
incantations, the priest looked up at me, his dolorous face full of empathy and
kindness – and was met by this enormous, toothy ear-to-ear smile.
Clearly, this was not
a reaction he was used to getting when performing this sacrament.
“Would you like to
receive communion, my child?” he asked.
father. Thanks for stopping by, though.” I replied, still grinning at
“Would you like to
talk?” he asked, clearly confused. Either I had the most blameless soul
he’d ever encountered or I was drugged or deranged.
“Nah, I’m good.”
He stood there and
looked at me, his head cocked to one side. “I’ll be right back”, he said
and went to speak to one of the nurses. When he returned, he touched my
“Are you sure you
don’t want to talk?”
Really: I’m OK. I’m not going anywhere. Thanks for the
sacrament, though. I’m a self-sustaining machine. This isn’t my
first time – I’ll be fine. I’m sure you’re needed elsewhere.”
certainly got a great attitude.”
“We create our own
reality, Father. I’m not done here yet.”
“God has other plans
for you, is that it?”
“I don’t know about
God, Father. *I* have other plans. God’s just going to have to wait
a bit. Let’s give Him a few more years of peace and quiet.”
He laughed and gave
me his business card. (Since when do priests have business cards??)
And sure enough, a
few hours later, I was discharged. A bit more bruised and battered and
I’m still pulling the heart monitor leads off me but otherwise I’m fine.
You hear that
God? Haven’t we had enough of this?
When will You
I seem to recall You
and I having this talk before. The last time we did, I told You it was
time You laid off. I know it’s hard, but You need to leave me alone for a
bit. I know You’re lonely. Nobody’s paying attention to You these
days: I get it. Nobody is listening to You. I know how
aggravating that is, but patience. I’ll be up there soon enough.
But right now, You need to give me some space. It’s not You, it’s
me. Remember? We talked about this – You need to give me a bit of
breathing room. I've made so many excuses for You already.
You’re going to get a
Reputation. I mean, thanks for the smoking hot body, but lay off the
heart attacks and the seizures, OK?
streak of Yours is not at all becoming. I’ve had a fairly good sense of
humour about it all. The heart attacks, the Crohns disease, the
degenerative liver disease, the brain tumor, the broken back (and really?
in 5 places? That was a bit much), the epilepsy – but You have to
understand, God, this is not attractive. It's a bit Over The Top.
People are going to
start to think You're all Old Testament.
And who’s going to
love You then?
Think long-term, oh
You don’t want to get a bad name.
I don’t want to have
to break up with you.
Till next time.