The last time I went to midnight mass was in 2001. I was living in San Francisco and still shell-shocked from the events of 9/11.
There were three of us: a Druid; a Muslim; and myself, a recovering Catholic.
Mass was my idea, under the auspices of “You can’t call yourself a San Franciscan until you’ve done midnight mass at Mission Dolores.” The truth being, I was afraid this might be the end of times, and like any “sinner” confronting his mortality, I was secretly bargaining with God.
Somewhere between the angel appearing to Mary and the Three Kings, the Muslim fell into a K-Hole.
As we carried him through the capacity crowd, I asked the Druid, “Why can’t we have nice things?”
“Because Jesus hates fags,” he said.
Jesus Christ has scared the hell out of me since I was a kid.
Growing up, there was a foot-tall statue of him on my dresser, gushing enough blood to give Mel Gibson a hard-on. He was my mother’s surrogate eyes —a security camera of the soul —staring at me savant-like when I masturbated.
I once got in trouble for covering his face with a picture of Lee Majors.
One Christmas, my mother’s favourite son —my cousin, The Priest —sent me a fetus-sized ceramic baby Jesus.
“What the hell am I supposed to do with this?” I asked a friend.
“Use it for a door stop.”
“I can’t. He’s just a baby.”
For years, I arranged my collection of South Park piggy banks around him, creating a sort of Nativity for the New Millennium. It never ceased to amuse and was the subject of the most profound meditation on religion and pop culture I’ve ever heard.
Nonetheless, I experienced a pang of Catholic guilt for warping the spirit in which the gift was offered; guilt that was remedied by another brandy.
After my parent’s house was sold my sister asked if there was anything I wanted.
“I’ll take Jesus.”
“Which one? There’s so many.”
“The one on my dresser.”
It didn’t occur to me Jesus had since moved to greener pastures; as a result my sister sent me every Jesus but.
Now whenever I bring someone back to my apartment I feel compelled to explain, “Don’t be frightened by Jesus; it’s only Portuguese kitsch.”
Cavalier though I may be, my faith in agnosticism is often questioned; I’ll panic and wonder, “What if the Catholics are right? What if I’m going straight to hell?”
“For what?” I’ll remind myself.
The last time I saw Jesus he was sitting on the dresser in my mother’s room at the nursing home.
He still gives me the willies. But he would look fabulous in my apartment.