Last night after reading my post, David said, "I always forget that."
"Forget what?" I asked.
"Your strict religious upbringing," he said.
I don't think I had a strict religious upbringing, although to some it
may look like I did. I did attend Catholic school from Kindergarten
through 8th grade, and I went with my mother and siblings to church
every day before school. I was taught by an order of dementedly strict
nuns, who told us we would go to hell for laughing at the double entendre
of words like balls or pussy. For a long time I wanted to be a saint when I grew up. However, I was allowed to dance and eat hamburgers and sit next to boys in church. And besides that even the strictest Catholic is still pretty lax compared to, say, an orthodox Jew. Or even a Pentacostal Christian. I mean, Catholics worship a
nearly naked guy who hangs on a cross in front of them at every single mass.
Anyway, it doesn't seem that strict to me now. It did feel strict to me then,
which is why at 16 I decided I would not be Catholic anymore. Which is
why using Jesus to win the Miss San Juan Capistrano, 1984 contest was a
cheap shot, because I didn't even believe in "Jesus" at that point.
Although, to myself, I rationalized my use of Jesus in that situation
by viewing him as a historical figure. And in that vein, I could admire
him from where I stood, more than I admired Barbara Streisand,
regardless of whether or not I believe he was God.
For a long time before that day, Jesus was the person I admired
most. He was my savior -- and not in the "have you accepted Jesus
Christ as your personal lord and savior?" way. He was my savior because
for the majority of my childhood, he was the one I talked to about all
my problems, problems that resulted from growing up in a dysfunctional
family with a wildly alcoholic father. I spent about an hour every
night before falling asleep talking to Jesus, telling him about my day,
asking him for special attention, letting him know I loved him and that
I hoped that I was good enough to get to see him someday in heaven. In
short, he was my confidante during a time when I could confide in no
And I know I'm not the only one who feels this way: Were it not for the Catholic church, I might still be loving me some Jesus.