My five-year-old daughter has become very good friends with the neighbour’s daughter. They live right by our crumbling wreck. These neighbours are lovely, lovely, lovely.They are also, seemingly, heavily involved with their church and with Jesus and with Jesus’s Dad. Words like “ministry” and “mission” and “pastor” pepper their vocabulary. I don’t normally hang with people who use these kinds of words. I am more comfortable with words like “secular” and words like “there is no God.” However, my daughter’s clear and blatant love for the daughter of the neighbours has left me little in the way of wiggle room in terms of employing avoidance as a strategy – she has dragged me into the thick of the religiouso crowd here in the coastal town. While the man spent the week of March Break mucking out the fetid basement, I hung with Christian home-schoolers.
The man took the child out on an excursion on one of the days – which of course meant time for me to continue on the removal of the gross insulation. While acres of pink fiberglass crashed (in a feathery way) on my head, I found myself muttering about evolution, the separation of the church and state, same-sex marriage, having a child out of wedlock, rustling up gay friends to come pee on my property line, bloobitty blah, because of course I am assuming that they are Baptists and I am further assuming that the Baptist faith is not open to evolution, and gay friends urinating on my grass. And I was getting all het up. “How dare they be all Baptisty!!” I cried out to the weird thing that fell from the ceiling.
Near the end of the distasteful task of shoving insulation into forty-five jumbo sized garbage bags (contractor grade) – a vague realization coalesced into one of those moments of insight that I so often choose to run from. Peeling away my anger at the neighbours revealed a vexing personal trait (designed to protect my fragile self, yes? In situations that are bound to become controversial (i.e you are Baptist and I am not), I am polite to the point of self-negation. The middle-child syndrome, they say. The child of the “prone to anger” parent, they say. I say yup to those things, but also that it has a lot to do with my sick desire to be loved. How much easier to – “Hmmmm, yes… uh-huh…”; to appear agreeable in the moment and then shit talk it later. Also, I can’t argue my way out of a paper bag. The extent of my belief that there is no God is simply that there is no God. If I had to debate about it I would cut to the chase and immediately employ the weeping technique as the ne plus ultra slam dunk – “There! I’m crying and mumbling unintelligible words with some swear words thrown in for effectiveness. That showed you.” Did I win?
And as if she were reading my mind, the next day the lovely, possibly Baptist neighbouress, in response to some sort of over-the-top agreeable comment I made, slapped my ass and called me a turd.
She knows me and she still loves me.