Seeing as how the only thing besides the death of Randy Savage on the Internet’s mind today is the Rapture, I thought I’d share a little personal story with y’all.
Once upon a time, a time that seems another lifetime from now, I was madly in love with a girl. We were young, painfully so, and while my family was a good ole “it’s all good as long as go to confession” Louisiana Catholic family, hers was a family steeped in evangelical Southern Baptist horses*it. This, of course, became a little bit of a sticking point, as I desperately wanted her family to accept me as one of their own, and the only way that that was going to happen was if I dove headlong into Jesus Freakery.
More than any other member of her family, the aforementioned girl’s paternal grandmother was pretty insistent on me not only converting to the Southern Baptist faith, but to also be baptized, or “saved.” Her belief was that anyone who did not publicly accept Jesus Christ as their lord and savior through the ritual of baptism, either in a church or in a river, was going straight to hell. And, of course, there wasn’t much time left to make things right, because the end times were coming fast.
Every time we’d go to visit the grandma with my ex, I left with an armful of books she’d given me, books she insisted that I read, all of which were on the end of the word, doomsday prophesy, etc. As a curious person, I did read a few of them, but remained more amused than convinced of anything, even during a time when I was much more impressionable, not near as sure of myself or confident, or stubborn for that matter, as I am now. But I thought about it and thought about it, never quite being able to bring myself to do it even though it would have been a quick and painless thing to do and it would have gotten grandma and a lot of other people in her family off my back. Each time she saw me the grandma would ask if I’d decided to get baptized and I’d lie and say that I wanted to wait until my heart was ready or some sh*t like that. But I was never going to be ready because I was never going to believe in the same things she believed in.
Looking back on that time, I’m slightly appalled that I ever considered doing it, seeing as my reaction these days to someone trying to preach to me is something along the lines of “F*ck off!” That’s part of being madly in love, I guess — you’ll do almost anything, even give in to engaging in some kooky religion and its rituals, just to make the going easier in the relationship.
I’ve been reminded of this time of my life each time I’ve seen that episode of Seinfeld where George converts to Latvian orthodoxy, or that scene in “Oh Brother Where Art Thou” when Delmar runs down to the river to be saved.
Pete: Well I’ll be a sonofabitch. Delmar’s been saved.
Delmar O’Donnell: Well that’s it, boys. I’ve been redeemed. The preacher’s done warshed away all my sins and transgressions. It’s the straight and narrow from here on out, and heaven everlasting’s my reward.
Ulysses Everett McGill: Delmar, what are you talking about? We’ve got bigger fish to fry.
Delmar O’Donnell: The preacher says all my sins is warshed away, including that Piggly Wiggly I knocked over in Yazoo.
Ulysses Everett McGill: I thought you said you was innocent of those charges?
Delmar O’Donnell: Well I was lyin’. And the preacher says that that sin’s been warshed away too. Neither God nor man’s got nothin’ on me now. C’mon in boys, the water is fine.
That’s what the grandma believed. That you’re good with God if you get baptized — all your past sins are forgiven, and apparently those committed going forward are overlooked too. What a crock of sh*t.
Anyway, I’m actually kind of proud for the late teens/early twenties me for not caving to the pressure and getting baptized, and all this Rapture talk has had me thinking about the grandma lately. If she’s still around, I’m sure she’s driving everyone crazy right about now. And she probably has a fancy Rapture outfit picked out so that she looks good when she meets the Lord face-to-face. Me, I’m going to eat some crawfish with friends and drink myself silly. F*ck the Rapture.