[If mild sacrilege, politics, or gender ambiguity offend you, you might skip this read…]
Never was actually Catholic, but I’d tried that and a lot of other religions, philosophies, book clubs, and programming languages. Still, I was mildly unsettled both about life after life and the concepts describing sin and other socially questionable but comfortable bad habits. In almost every case, I wasn’t, and still am not, convicted of the inequities of my life. For the most part neither unduly ashamed of any of my lifestyle Legos nor so enamored by them I couldn’t give them up, I’ve always been willing to consider changes. In time, after judicious consideration, of course.
More than five years back now, however, it was brought to my attention that I was guilty of a serious, potentially unforgivable transgression. The mere fact that I was unaware of it at the time pronounced my sin particularly odious. That it sneaked up on me and weaved itself into the fabric of my daily life was shocking. How can one guard against such as that? Best, I thought, to exorcise this quickly and permanently. Well, there were other reasons, probably of overriding importance, but I figured to approach the most approachable cure first. I’d eventually apply as much science and religion as I could to cancel my reservation in hell.
Now, I’d known Walter Pezogoric most of our lives. Wally, back in high school, determined he was called to the cloth. Or the cloth determined it needed him, I dunno. With a name like Pezogoric, you know he wasn’t considering Seventh Day, or Baptist, or Episcopalian labors. Wally became a Catholic priest. I knew for a fact that Wally, excuse me, Father Dominic, had an eye for the ladies. An eye, yes, but not requisite charm to effectively woo. Lest you consider that, how shall we put it, made Wally, as Father Dominic, “go a different direction,” I’d seen the good Father many times through the years, and he still had an eye for the ladies. But he also had great control.
Father Dominic thought I was pulling his leg when, seeking absolution, I began, “Forgive me Father for I am a Republican. My last confession was over twenty years ago. These are my sins…”
“Whoa!” said Father Dominic. “Republican?”
Unh-oh. I thought. I’m gonna be handed a thousand ‘Hail Marys.’ I figured I was unredeemable, “Aw gee, Father, does that also mean I cannot be Catholic?”
“No, my son. It’s that being a Republican is not a sin.”
“Have you checked with the Vatican on that, Father?”
“I don’t have to. I’m reasonably certain that…”
“Well, I have it on authority of the good people of Washington State that…”
Only Father Dominic’s patience and explanation kept me from turning myself into local law enforcement. He sold me two dozen St. Stanislaus Society Raffle tickets and suggested refresher Catechism classes.
Father Dominic’s reassurances were a mild relief, but a lingering suspicion suggested being a Republican still might be something I should get medical or psychiatric help with. Too, I worried for a while the party was going to discover my backsliding as it were, and try to recover unpaid dues, fill my side and front yards with party candidates’ signs, or make me do double duty on door-to-door election week canvassing for votes.
Knowing your curiosity, here’s a reveal on how this disease came to my attention. Part of this will be personally embarrassing but as a public service, I will go through this in hopes it might allow you to avoid similar calamity. While it is of great interest, I cannot say where or how I was infected. I honestly do not know, for this was well before the popularity of face masks and social distancing. I’ve always been fastidious about hygiene and do not share coffee mugs at political rallies or even County Board meetings.
Maybe, recognizing infection quickly enough, one might be able to diminish its effects. Further, personal, and therefore highly motivated research has revealed there is no cure. Early diagnosis, limiting the severity of infection might be key. One can only hope to manage the malady, and with success keep it secret from friends and family. It is chronic. Medical research still pends on mortality rates.
For a period of more than ten years, an old, previously disconnected friend and I corresponded. He lived in Washington State. I of course do not. Correspondence was a treasure because this gent seemed intelligent and was knowledgeable on many subjects. We understood each other’s politics and courteously avoided out-and-out confrontation. “Conversations” were serious. Save politics and sports, no subject was off-limits. We avoided sports, mutually agreeing no one should be paid real money to play games.
I was mildly surprised to learn his spouse was male. Ah, well. I am tolerant, so long as the man selling dynamite, is not waving a lit stick in front of my nose. Our ten-year correspondence still had several years to run at that time. It did, until one day…
Out of the blue, I received an email from this man. It simply said he could no longer communicate with me. Well, not knowing, I suspected maybe he’d tripped over some bad health. I quizzed him in an email, suggesting, if I was at fault for something, I deserved to know, and if he was in ill health, was there anything I could do to help? I knew I’d done nothing wrong. Washington is a long way away, but I wouldn’t have offered if I didn’t mean it.
This was presidential election time. Before Mrs. “I did not” and Mr. “Fake News.” Some old Socialist dude was rather poorly treated by his own party peers in the state of Washington. At a party convention. My old correspondent put his thinking-cap on and deduced this unfair treatment was the fault of Republicans. (I’m still working through the obvious logic there…) Republicans, as a matter of fact, he told me, were responsible for all the ills of this country. My correspondent declared me a Republican, therefore not someone with whom he could associate. Which included email, apparently. My Republicanism was a fact which had to that point escaped my attention.
Now, I must return to the task I’ve set before myself. There are countless surveys I have answered where I listed my political affiliation as “Independent.” It bothers me greatly that survey results are being analyzed incorrectly for my error. To set the record straight, I am contacting those survey originators I can remember. Perhaps to save the country. I don’t believe, at least I certainly hope, my erroneous answers are not responsible for Covid19.
No. The correspondence died on the spot. I’ve made no subsequent efforts to restart it. I won’t. Who am I to risk the reputation of a former friend by having it appear they fraternize with a Republican?