Testing the grape

Telluride Daily Planet, Sunday, March 22, 2015

MCW: [starts to cross herself then, forgetting how, stops] Bless me, father. It’s been oh, I don’t know, a couple of years, maybe, since my last confession.

Father: That sounds a bit casual, my child. Not in the least bit urgent. At any rate, here you are. You’re back, after some undetermined number of years to check in. Confess something or other. [sniffs] Go on.

MCW: [drops head a bit] Sorry. I guess I’m compensating: I’m a little nervous —

Father: If a penitent is not in the least bit nervous, something is awry. Presumably you are confessing sins to God, through a priest. And assuming you actually believe you were in the wrong and not just perfunctorily mouthing words of regret, a little discomfort is to be expected. Go on. Start with the venial sins, if that helps. Lord’s name in vain, mean to my husband, that sort of thing. Kiping grapes in the grocery store.

MCW: Wait. That counts? The kiping?

Father: Why wouldn’t it? It’s stealing, isn’t it?

MCW: That’s just to test the grape. Otherwise the store is stealing from me.  File under caveat emptor.

Father: [cranks sliding door back a bit more to fully reveal the screen and his shadow] Testing the grape. I see. I’m having a notion that this might be the title of a little sermon next Sunday. Sort of a cross between an-eye-for-an-eye and all’s fair in love, war and rationalization. You ever read The Ethicist column in the NYT? It’s good.

MCW: I don’t.

Father: Maybe you should! But let’s move on: What are you here to confess, my child?

MCW: Wait, now, I’m thinking of things I always thought were okay and here they might not be. And that ignorance is probably no excuse.

Father: Maybe we should just move straightaway to the main event.

MCW: [silence. shuffling] No, no, let me warm up. So, I’ve probably done my fair share of one or two deadly sins. Can I get a blanket absolution on those at the end or do you need an itemization?

Father: Being a generalist doesn’t work in the sacrament of confession.  “For all my thoughts that were somewhat lustful, in, oh, maybe the last few years, I am heartily sorry.” See what I mean?

MCW: [pauses] Okay. [pauses again]. So: what is the church’s stance on hypocrisy? In terms of sin categories and such. Because I have it and it is feeling — yukky to me.

Father: Hypocrisy. Yukky. Yes. We don’t like it much here in the RCC. Two things come to mind: Judge not lest you be judged. And, you shall not bear false witness — which is actually one of the TC’s.

MCW: Right.

Father: But I’d have to hear the specifics.

MCW: [lowering voice even further] Several years back I wrote a little essay they actually had to censor.

Father: Good start. Go on.

MCW: I mean, there have been a couple, but this one, which happened to be on the subject of not using blinkers in town, was pulled. It was angry. Didn’t really sound like me.

Father: [leaning forward] Wrath is not only a sin but a deadly —

MCW: [interrupting] I know, I know! It just got to me, the lack of using a turn signal. Like everywhere you looked, all the time, [raising voice] even people turning left would just kind of slow the big-ass car down and —

Father: Moderare te! This is a confessional — we don’t commit sins within the walls, we receive the sacrament. We watch our language. Now I remember you. You confessed to having a pop music addiction a couple of years back.

MCW:  I don’t call it an addiction anymore. I call it a longevity choice. Keeps me young.

Father: File under “testing the grape.”

MCW: [ignoring him] Anyway, Father, I have found myself not using a turn signal lately. Which feels like more of a sin than the hypocrisy part. I can’t exactly confess to that, though — but that hypocrisy part. Ew.

Father: Shame that you judged all the non-blinkers since you are one of them yourself. You, who had cast the first essay.

MCW: Which was never published! Yes. Somehow it’s feels like —

Father: Karma? What you deserve? I will say this to you. Not blinking is bad behavior on every level! Drives me crazy, too. But we are not our brother’s keeper, or our sister’s, are we?

MCW: [hangs head] No. I’m sorry for not using a turn signal! Sorry I ever wrote that stupid essay.

Father: Here is your penance, child. Three Hail Marys. Seven Our Fathers. Meditate on your anger and judgment. Get a breathing practice going. Drink more water. Sit up straighter. And use your turn signal. Every. Single. Time. You turn. Even into parking spaces and garages…

MCW: That’s all penance?? Wow.

Father: I took it up a notch, just for you. [sliding the little door shut] Thanks for this Sunday’s sermon idea. Peace out.

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