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 my brief summer as a Lutheran.
… by which I mean I had a crush on a girl in a Lutheran youth group, and so feigned faith in her god in order to woo her…
… by which I mean I spent a summer drifting through barbecues and ropes courses like a dorky poltergeist, lingering on the periphery of every conversation, too afraid to introduce myself.
She had scarlet hair and freckles and was a full foot taller than me, and I adored her.
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 one.
This is it: Lutherans are nice.
Like, really nice. All of em. Even the mean ones. The whole of the Lutheran community is pathologically pleasant, 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. They don’t preach from the pulpit, they share in the safe space of the circle. 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, sip a 7UP, and talk about their friend Jesus while tuning an acoustic guitar.
All this niceness. It’s… just so… nice. And here’s the thing: I don’t trust it. On some basic level, down in my bones, I find it suspect. Because I, unlike my lovely Lutheran friends, was raised by Italian-Americans, and thus given suck from 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 modern rebranding effort these past few years. He’s a sunglasses pope. The kinda pope you could high-five. But Catholicism itself? Would you high-five Catholicism? Hell no. Because we all know – down in its dna – there’s nothing nice about it. All that blood ritual? The obsession with violence and torture mythology, the submissive dogma? From Mitre to slipper, the whole ordeal is a gilded, monarchical terror pageant. And that shit sticks with you.
Plus, I’m sorry to say, in a catholic context? A weiner in the buns has a very different meaning.
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 demand the creeps from any situation. I’m irrevocably programmed to look for the darkest timeline.
It makes life complicated.
Fun! Hilarious! Worthy of note!
But woof. Ya know?