“Hey little girl, ya want a book?”
So living in rural Colorado has it’s hazards.
Mainly snow and ice…. and psychotic religious zealots.
As a preface, for those of you who may not know, I was brought up in an uber-Catholic family that consequently turned me off entirely to organized religion.
Incidentally, eleven years of Catholic school does NOT equal buying into the Catholic – or any – religion (an FYI for anyone currently force-feeding their kids against their will).
Basically, what it did for me, was turn me into the typical “Catholic School Girl.” And we all know what THAT means.
Why did I stop at eleven years of Catholic school, you ask? Well, my grandmother, who was raising me through my entire high school career (and beyond), could no longer pay the ridiculous tuition (which was higher than UCI at the time). In an attempt to let me finish out high school there (I’d already been to 17 different schools by the time I hit ninth grade – thanks, mom), she wrote to the Orange County bishop and asked – pleaded, rather – for him to help her with cutting the cost my final 1.5 years.
He eventually replied. Sure, they’d give her a discount – but the balance of the monthly “discount” would be due at the end of the school year. Gee thanks. That helps a lot.
I knew the financial pressure was going to be too much for her (not to mention, she was paying for everything for me already) so I told her I’d go to Ocean View, a public high school in Huntington Beach.
I mean, I see the bishop’s point… obviously, everyone knows God needed her money (this is yet another point of contention between me and religion).
My best friend at the time, Megan, also transferred along with me - cause seriously – who the fuck can afford 4K+ per year for high school? Not either of our families.
But on the upside, based on the rigorous standards of Mater Dei, we were way more ahead than the rest of our peers and effectively ditched pretty much all of the following 1.5 years of public high school (oh, and I still graduated with a 3.95 GPA).
Where was I going with this?
So basically, what my early history has resulted in is organized religion leaving an icky taste in my mouth. Don’t get me wrong. I believe in a higher power, something bigger than us, or whatever you want to call it. God, Allah, Buddha… a higher power.
And it’s not just that I don’t like the thought of dying and ending up a rotting corpse buried in a box in the dirt. I truly believe that there’s life after death. There are times when I can feel my former friends and family that have passed around me, and I’m certain our spirits continue.
And before you say it, it’s not just from my former occupation as a “psychic friend.”
I really believe our souls are more than our physical body. And I also think it would be a pretty bleak/naive outlook to think our physical body is the end. At least from my standpoint.
But I don’t do church. Ever. So don’t ask.
I digress. Let’s get back to Frederick, Colorado.
So two Halloweens ago, after trick-or-treating with our neighbor friends (and when Jack was far too young to go house-to-house), Emma did what we probably all did with our Halloween candy as kids. She dumped it out on her bedroom floor and sorted it out into piles.
She walked out only a few minutes into the ritual and said “Mommy, I don’t think this was for me,” and handed me a little booklet that resembled a coupon book, with a ghost and the word “BOO!” on it. She said, “I thought it was a coupon book, but I don’t think so.”
When I opened it, it was like a miniaturized evil comic book. It had illustrations of headless horsemen killing people (no, literally) and said (again, literally) that Halloween was a satanic holiday, that pumpkins were the “sign of the devil” and that “Jesus hates Halloween.” I won’t go into the illustrations of cats being killed and all of the other absolutely nutzo crap in it. Let’s suffice it to say that it REALLY pissed me off.
*taking a minute to compose myself so I don’t hunt down and kill the bitch that gave it to her*…
Okay. Better now.
So as you know, Emma is brilliant. And like her mommy, she has a totally photographic memory. So I immediately asked her, “Do you remember what house gave that to you?”
Right away I called the neighbor friend we went with, who had a 4 and an 11-year-old. She checked the bags of her kids since we all went to the same houses together. Sure enough, she had one too. But strangely, only Emma and her youngest child (4) were given them.
So, you know me…. I’m sure you can guess the rest, but I’ll tell ya anyway.
The next afternoon, after leaving a very NOT-religious message to the “church” number (which was only on Emma’s, not on my neighbor’s equally disturbing “comic book – I suppose the odds of retaliation were less if they only put it on half), my friend and I went to the house Emma claimed to have got it from. And her photographic memory did not fail us. It was decorated to the hilt with Halloween crap.
So my friend and I walked up and knocked on the door, evil comic books in hand.
A homely woman answered the door, and we presented her with the booklets. “Did you give these out last night?” we asked. With much indignation, she said, “Why yes, I did!”
So both of us started into her. Why decorate your house with Jack-o-Lanterns if, as your books say, they’re a symbol of “satan”?
She had no answer to that. What she DID say almost made me punch her in the mouth.
“Well it’s my right to spread ‘the word’ however I want. If I want to hand those out with candy, I can!”
I literally had to forcefully turn myself around and leave before I bashed her head in like one of her pumpkins.
At any rate, we apparently made our point – guess who’s house has been dark every Halloween since?
So fast-forward to yesterday. I took a bunch of video games back to GameStop in the mall with Emma for our ritualistic “girls day.” Just as we were about to reach GameStop, we passed an old man sitting on a bench. He reached out his arm to Emma, a book in hand. “Hey, little girl, ya want a book?” he said - which wasn’t exactly a QUESTION cause by the time he said it, he was putting it in her hand. As we rushed by (and as I ripped it from her hands), he said “I bet it’s not like any other bible you’ve ever read!”
In retrospect, and if I wasn’t in such a hurry to get the whole mall experience over with, I should have taken it and smacked him over his old head with it.
Instead I shoved it in my purse, cause crazy religious crap always makes me laugh. It was exactly as psycho as I expected it would be, and later I followed up my regrets of NOT taking an old man down in the middle of the mall with a drunk “fuck you you fucking fuck” dial to the number on the back.
Bottomline: Don’t force your religion on me if you want to continue walking.
Bottomline II: The next person who tries to force-feed my kids THEIR religion by taking advantage of their innocence (like, stuffing it in their Halloween basket or sitting outside of a GameStop putting books in my kid’s hand) better be wearing armor.
Cause next time, I’m gonna THROW DOWN.