Wednesday, May 21, 2008

In a Neighborhood Far, Far Away

Now that I think of it, I can pinpoint the exact moment when I could have become a Christian. I was literally being offered a ride on the Jesus bandwagon and at the tender age of four, my heathen tendencies were already raring strong.



So it was 1970-something and I was at home with my mom in our tract home in New Jersey. All you need to know is that I was a probably the most adorable child you had ever seen. Imagine Gary Coleman but without the guilt of knowing he was really a teenager trapped in a toddler's body -- wait, I'm watching "Spider-Man 3" on demand and the part where Peter fights Harry for the first time is on, gimme a minute . . . aaaand I'm back. Where was I, oh right, I was cute as a fucking button on a baby bunny.

So, as they are wont to do, a well-intentioned Christian woman was going door-to-door looking to --- wait, Sandman is being born --- recruit fresh, young minds to a lifetime of believing they are sinners by way of a Sunday school program that picked kids up right from their homes. Being four and knowing that a couple of the neighborhood children were going, I naturally wanted to go, too. You may not remember but riding on a bus at the age of four is like being offered a ride on a space shuttle now.

The crazy thing is, when I asked my mother about it, she was down for the bus ride -- kinda. Truth is, my mother was convinced everyone was trying to steal me. Actually, I'm not sure she doesn't believe it now. But surprisingly kidnapping was her ONLY objection to sending me to Sunday school. See, I was under the impression that my parents were committed to non-committal. That their own issues with religion had opened their eyes to the traps of organized religion and steeled them against any idea of raising their own precious (and incredibly adorable) son in the same idealogical quagmire.

Turns out, not so much.

Seems my mother was basically keen on the idea of sending me to Sunday school if it weren't for the threat of kidnapping. So she invited the Christian lady in to see if I was Sunday-school worthy. Naturally, the woman wants to know how much I know about Jesus and the Lord to which my mom for some reason thinks I know enough. Thank God (yeah, I said it), my father comes home from work at that time. Perhaps having a better grip on my situation, he has doubts about my theological leanings.

Here's how, I'm told, the conversation went:

"What does your son know about the Lord?," Ms. Christian Bus asks my folks.

"Oh he knows, I've been teaching him," my mom insists.

My father responds with a disapproving look that says "Bloody hell he does" (FYI --he's not British).

So, naturally they call me downstairs to see what I really know.

And down I come, "Star Wars" action figures in hand, afro at full puffitude.

"Baby, do you know who the Lord is?"

Now I have no recollection of any of this, mind you, but my answer to this question pretty much sums up my life.

"Yes mommy, Lord Darth Vader."

That's right, I knew then where my alleigance lied. More to the point, it was evident that the only place I had heard the word "Lord" was in reference to the baddest Sith bastard to roam deep space.

You could pretty much say it was a wrap after that. The woman left disgusted and my parents spent the rest of the night laughing their asses off. My spot on the Christain bus was taken by some poor sap who is probably now fretting about his eternal soul.

However, when my mother recounted the story to me earlier today, I was confused as to why she thought I knew anything about Christianity at the age of four -- as I had always remembered my life as being pretty much areligious. She replied that she had taught me a few Christian songs and a bit about the story of Jesus but in her words, "You weren't very interested."

"So was your intention to raise me as a Christian?"

"Yes, but I guess I never really got around to it."

And that, my friends, is the story of my life.