Not that this was ever a question, but it’s comforting to have my own suspicions confirmed. Or, not.
It all started outside of my local supermarket on a quiet Thursday morning. The sky was gray with fog, and there was a slight nip in the air despite it being in the middle of summer. Such is life in northern California.
As I neared the entrance I was approached by a tiny bit of a woman asking if I would sign her petition to have an amendment added to the Constitution of the United States to redefine the good ‘ole US of A as a “Christian Nation.”
Deep within the putrid mess of goo that constitutes my brain, I heard a voice shouting, “Danger Will Robinson! Danger!” Like an idiot, I ignored the warning. I should have known better. I declined as politely as I could adding that I never sign petitions outside of supermarkets. (Actually, I seldom sign any petition no matter the subject, but that’s just a personal quirk.) For the next ten minutes I was subjected to the wrath of “Martha the Church Lady.” Now, please understand that I have no knowledge of her real name, nor any desire to learn, so “Martha” will have to do. Martha, being all of four foot three, and possibly pushing three hundred years of age, was a pip. I immediately assumed a hand to hand combat defensive posture. Martha may have been older than dirt, but she looked like a young and rabid pit bull as she launched into me.
“Sign it!” she demanded as she shoved the document under my nose. Not looking for a physical confrontation with an elderly America, I took it and read the proposition. Aren’t petitions supposed to be like, typed or something? This one was hand written in at least third grade block letters on lined notebook paper stating that, “By God’s grace the Constution (sic) of the Unidted (sic) States of Amercia (sic) be ammended (sic) to define the USA as a Christian Nation.”
I think my hands were shaking when I handed the clip board back to her after seeing how many others before me had signed the fucking thing. Again, despite the warning still going off like a battleship collision alarm in my head, I declined to sign. Martha however, had grit, and backup. Enter “Wilbur.”
Wilbur didn’t frighten me. He was only about two hundred years old, but frail, with an ill fitting gravy stained suit, a gold colored bow tie and a wandering left eye. He also had that air about him that told me that possibly dementia was an old and dear friend. I was pretty sure I could take him if push came to shove. I kept both eyes fixed on Martha.
“Why not?” she asked in a voice that betrayed a lifetime abuse of either tobacco or booze, or possibly both.
Stupid woman that I am, I tried to explain that this was a country of many religions, not just one, and that one religion shouldn’t have precedent over the others. Then I tried to explain the idea of separation of church and state, but that got me exactly nowhere as I saw her rheumy eyes begin to cross. I never had a chance to get to my speech about how I really felt about all religions. It was probably for the best.
“You one of them Jews of sumptin’ ?” she asked. “All Jews and them queers is all going to Hell!”
Now I’m not stupid, I know a lifeline when I see one tossed in my direction. “Not that I know of,” I said, “but I am a Lesbian.”
“You’re going to Hell!” she said. It wasn’t quite a scream, but it was the next closest thing. With that decision made, Martha abruptly turned away from me to accost the next person trying to enter the store.
I had gone to the store for just a few things, all of which I had forgotten by the time I finally entered. Eventually, after not managing to remember a single item that I had come for, I said, “Fuck it!” and settled for a twelve pack of cheap beer.
I considered offering a cold one to Martha on the way out, but then thought better of it. No sense running a stick on the picket fence separating you from the pit bull on the way home.
At least now though, I know with some degree of certainty where I’m going after I die. At least I’ll be with my friends.
It’s a small comfort.