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Bad Habits - Waiting for The Man - January 13 2005

Trying to score some Jesus

You know you're deeply imbedded in the counter-culture when you have to sneak off to church and then lie about where you've been. I blame the right. Those crazy-ass religious zealots have flooded the altars with intolerance and bad ju-ju. And I blame the far left. The intellectual set has left little room for the heart.

Telling people in my world that you've gone to church is akin to saying that you don't believe in evolution or the Earl or Ikea. But sometimes a person gets an itch, a longing, a desperate need for a hit to the soul. Is it so wrong that I like hymns? Is it so wrong that I want to hear carols this time of year? Is it so wrong that I believe in a higher power? That doesn't make me a knuckle-dragging imbecile.

Anyhoo, now that I live at the Residence Inn in Midtown, what should be located conveniently across the street but Atlanta First Presbyterian? I mean, sheeeyit, I'm only human. One Sunday, I went on a walk with my baby; it just happened to, you know, be around service time, I guiltily skirted the church steps, trying to score some Christmas carols. I did a few walk-bys to check out the scene and see if the folks were cool. I got a little closer each time, working up my nerve. Could I pull it off without being noticed? I flashed back to high school and trying to score pot on Green Hill Road, only now I didn't have a mattress in the back of a van to hide under; I was blatantly sashaying down Peachtree. Though not as blatantly as the guy who wears fishnet stockings and a tutu, and who leads an imaginary parade in front of the Woodruff Arts Center.

Then, daaaaamn, stone-cold busted. On one of my wheel-abouts, who should I see standing on the corner but CL's own Doug Monroe. Coming out of the church? Ha! He was busted, too. Or, was Doug a leftist narc? Anyhow, I broke the code of people caught in compromising positions and said hi. I got a cool reception. But was that because he did recognize me or didn't? Oh, agony, when will the other hymn book drop?

In all fairness to Doug, I didn't actually see him come out of the church. He was in church clothes and seemed to be coming from that direction, but that is only circumstantial evidence.

At that point, already outed, I went for it ... and wasn't disappointed. Red robes, soaring organ, bells, brass, children's choir, in excelsis deo — the works. I was sweating like a fiend. But that had more to do with the Land's End polar fleece I was wearing than any holy detox.

They say you can control your devilish urges and that this sort of activity can be kept to once a week. But come on, during the holidays? I think not. I was back two days later — in the middle of the day, no less — for more carols. They say that doing things like this in the middle of the day means you have a real problem. I even used peer pressure to recruit a friend under the guise of "family holiday activity."

I have no worries about my boyfriend becoming a habitual user. God gives him the jitters. When we got there on Tuesday for the caroling and he found out there were going to be some actual words spoken by ministers, he nearly went ballistic. "There's gonna be a service? What the FUCK?" I pray the acoustics were a little off that day.

It's my belief that if you take a step toward the universe, it will take a step toward you. I'm trying to convince my boyfriend that the Presbyterian God is a practical one, no mumbo-jumbo. The kind of god who, for instance, will leave a furniture dealer's business card in the pew for you if you've just lost all your furniture in a house fire. I don't truck in miracles, but if that doesn't count, then what does?

My boyfriend remains unmoved. To him, all this talk of mystery is as extravagant and dangerous as an '80s coke binge and he's taking his own steps ... toward an intervention.

jane.catoe@creativeloafing.com



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