A statement, phrase, or description that sounds like innuendo, but you honestly didn’t mean it that way. You swear.
Once, while at a backyard barbecue, I was offered a wiener by a Lutheran youth minister.
He was a jolly chap – a human pastel – who assured me with an earnest smile that I could have as many wieners as I liked. He directed me toward the buns for my wiener. And the condiments to put on my wiener. All I had to do was say so, and he would cook me up a wiener right away.
This was back in my early teens, during the brief summer when I was a Lutheran.
By which, of course, I mean I had a crush on a girl in a Lutheran youth group, and thus feigned faith in her god in order to linger on the periphery, too afraid to introduce myself.
She had scarlet hair and freckles and was a full foot taller than me, and I adored her.
So, look… if we’re being totally honest here, I’m embellishing a little bit about the wiener thing. But ONLY a little bit. I swear. He really did offer to cook up my wiener. Straight face. Big smile. Wiener. And then he put his hand on my shoulder and aimed me toward the buns. Whatever other embellishment I added was done A. for comedy, and B. to highlight what I love about, if not all Lutherans, then at least the Lutherans I knew while pretending to be a Lutheran.
This is it: Lutherans are nice.
Like, really nice. All of them. Even the mean ones. The whole of the Lutheran community is a pathologically pleasant congregation of sweater-vested avuncularity. Every one I’ve ever known has been tall, polite, and at least partly (mostly) Scandinavian. They invert my every expectation of theological zeal – Where others worship, Lutherans praise. Rather than preach, they share. The drama and severity of Martin Luther’s rigid, teutonic theses notwithstanding, the world to a modern Lutheran seems one big rumpus room… a place to take a load off, strum an acoustic guitar, and tell you a thing or two about their friend Jesus.
All this niceness. It’s… just so… nice. And ya know what? I don’t trust it. On some basic level, down in my bones, I find it all alien and suspicious… because I was raised in the brambled bosom of the Catholic church… and there’s nothing nice about Catholicism, let me tell you. Oh, sure… Pope Francis has overseen a heroic rebranding effort these past few years. He’s the kinda pope you could hug, maybe. But Catholicism itself? Would you hug Catholicism? Hell no. Because we all know – down in its bones – there’s nothing nice about it. All that blood ritual? The obsession with violence and torture mythology, and submissive dogma? From Mitre to slipper, the whole ordeal is a gilded, monarchical terror pageant. And that shit sticks with you.
Which is why, all those years ago, standing in that lovely back yard and politely accepting that youth minister’s wiener, I smoldered with guilt and fidgets. Because I’m trained to look for the creeps in any situation. I’m programmed to find the darkest timeline.
It makes life complicated.
Fun! Hilarious! Worthy of note!
But woof. Ya know?