Friday, 06 April 2012
Yesterday, Jennifer, her Dad, and I went to the Guthrie Theater to see a performance of The Birds. It was an unusual play; not what I expected. I knew the play was based on du Maurier’s short story (like Hitchcock’s The Birds), so I knew it wouldn’t follow the film. Not having read the short story (I plan to remedy that soon), I can’t say which one more closely resembles the original source.I will say this though: the play could’ve been taken as a sequel to Hitchcock’s film. While the 1963 classic depicts the origins events: the gathering of the birds, the hunkering down to protect from them, the play depicted everything after that point: Okay, the birds are here, we know their routine, we’ve boarded up the house. Now what?
Anyway, fun play, good drinks, awesome venue. All in all, glad I did it. Now I want to see this.
This afternoon, I was working in the yard, trying to get some decorative bricks situated just right. I was out in front of the garage, with my back to the sidewalk. I heard some people walking by. No big deal. That sort of thing happens on a sidewalk. Then I noticed more and more and MORE people walking by. A big group – maybe about a hundred people – were all walking down the sidewalk. I looked over my shoulder a couple times and figured, judging from the two or three men in dresses, and the fact that we only live a couple of blocks from a big ass Catholic church, that these were church-goers. Why they all decided to take a walk through the neighborhood on a Friday afternoon…I wasn’t sure. Probably had something to do with it being Good Friday.
I continued working on the landscaping project after the crowd passed by. About five more minutes of quietness elapsed. Then I heard a woman and a man behind me. The man had his collar on backwards, and the woman was holding a camera. Trying to get my attention, they said excuse me. The following conversation transpired.
WOMAN: Can we take your picture?
MAN: Yes, we couldn’t help but notice your shirt. Can we take a picture of you?
ME: What for?
MAN: We just think it’s ironic that you’re wearing that shirt today.
ME (looking down and realizing I’m wearing a t-shirt that says “Minnesota Atheists” on it): I’m not sure what’s ironic.
WOMAN: Well we just wanted your permission to take a picture.
ME: Well, what would be the purpose of the picture?
WOMAN: Oh, not to make fun of you! No, we just thought it was, um, interesting that you choose that shirt today. I know a few atheists, and they are some of the kindest people I know.
ME: Yeah, I know a few atheists like that, too.
MAN: Today is Good Friday.
WOMAN: This is Pastor Brown.
ME (nodding at the Pastor): Hello.
MAN: Yes, today is the day God died for us.
WOMAN: That’s why we’re out walking today.
ME: Yeah, I know it’s Good Friday.
MAN: So we just think it’s paradoxical that you wore that shirt.
ME: Oh, I didn’t pick out this shirt for any reason. I have, like, 20 t-shirts, and this just happened to be the one on the top of my drawer this morning when I was getting dressed.
MAN: Oh. Well it’s still an interesting paradox, and that’s why we wanted the picture.
ME (still not clear what the picture was intended for): I just…I mean, I just don’t get what the paradox is?
MAN: Just the whole idea of God or no God, and Jesus. And how it’s a special weekend. You know?
ME: Well, I guess I decline having my photo taken.
MAN: Okay, no problem. We just thought we’d ask.
WOMAN: Yes, thank you for your time. Nice to talk with you.
ME: Yes, nice to meet you.
WOMAN (looking at Isla playing on the slide): Oh, he’s such a little cutie.
Then they walked away.
Okay…I have some questions.
1) Are all religious people this inept when discussing their religion around a non-believer? I mean, I know Witnesses are that way, but I thought they were just uncomfortable around me because they’re worried Jehovah will murder them for talking to me.
2) Why so evasive? I had to repeatedly ask what the photo was for, and the only information I received was what the photo would not be used for. Yes, I’m sure the photo would not be used for many things, including the cover of People magazine’s 50 sexiest people issue. Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough, but I wanted to know the physical destination of the photo, not the emotional outcome. Would it be printed in a church bulletin? Would they post it on their website? Was the woman just going to keep the photo in her “Miscellany” or “Phantasmagoria” folder? Would the Pastor be using it to masturbate this evening?
3) What exactly was “ironic” or “paradoxical”? Yes, they were probably using those words fast and loose, like most people. But presuming they were simply trying to find tactful ways of saying “an odd juxtaposition,” what was so weird about it? I mean, I don’t celebrate Good Friday. I eat lunch during Ramadan, and I spent this year’s Memorial attending a play (see above). That’s what I do…because I’m not in those religions. Now, if I was Catholic and I showed up for a Good Friday Mass wearing a shirt that says “Hi, I’m an atheist,” then, yes, I agree, that would be odd. But I’m not Catholic. Despite what their mini-race for the Christ may have made them feel like, not everyone in the neighborhood is Catholic. I didn’t wake up this morning and think “Now how can I be ironic to all those Catholics!”
Anyway, I know some of this is sarcastic, but I sincerely found it odd. When I was a Witness, for example, I couldn’t imagine stopping at someone’s house and saying, “Hey, I couldn’t help but notice the St. Francis statue in your yard. That’s a bit ironic, don’t you think? I mean, ’cause the Circuit Assembly starts tomorrow.”
Regardless, they were nice people. I think it was very courteous to actually take the time out to stop and ask my permission to photograph me rather than, say, burn me alive at the stake. Which is what they would’ve done 400 years ago.