Monday, August 31, 2009

Just Call Me Reverend

A few weekends ago, while waiting for a table at Chili’s Grill and Bar, a Hell’s Angel-looking dude practically yelled the Lord’s name in horrible vein over and over again. I asked the dude if he could lower his voice, or not blaspheme in front of my very impressionable 5-year-old son -- who just wanted a Chile’s grilled cheese sandwich. The dude said he earned the right to blaspheme. He was a reverend, he said.

A reverend?

He showed me his reverend card as proof. It was official. He said he got ordained online for $35.

How does a guy like this, with no respect for God, become a “man of the cloth?” I was taken aback. I wanted to know how I could become a reverend online for just $35.

The blasphemer gave me the web address for a church that ordained pretty much anyone interested in becoming a minister. When I got home, I went online and, within about 10 minutes, became Reverend Michael Picarella.

“Reverend who?” my wife asked me. She thought I was abusing the online ordination service.

“No, no, no,” I said. “I’m going to take my ministry seriously.”

And that’s exactly what I did. I started collecting donations immediately for the new Michael Picarella Church.

No longer would people lie to my face. Rather, they’d be obligated to confess everything to me.

No longer would cops give me speeding tickets. I’d make sure to “accidentally” hand over my reverend card when the arresting officer asked to see my driver’s license. (A cop who gives a ticket to a holy man can’t have a conscience.)

And no longer would friends and family have to pay $300 a pop for someone to officiate their weddings and baptisms. I would be more than happy to offer my services free of charge. I’d only ask interested parties to tip me extremely well for my efforts and to be prepared to foot the bill for my room and travel.

I sent a newsletter to family and friends (using my new reverend letterhead) informing people of my ordination. And I solicited my services. I expected a few laughs.

Would you believe it? Only a day after being ordained, I received several hefty donations, over a dozen requests to officiate weddings, and even a request to do a baptism. This was really happening. I was really going to be someone important for the first time in my life. I was going to be seen as respectable. People were going to listen to me.

What did I do?

“I can’t be a reverend!” I cried to my wife.

She was not sympathetic to my needs at all, and she certainly wasn’t going to help me out of the mess I got myself into.

“I told you it wasn’t a good idea,” my wife said.

One of my friends was equally supportive.

“You should’ve listened to your wife,” he said.

“Listen to my wife?” I asked. “Who listens to their wife?”

The hole I was digging for myself kept getting deeper. And there was only one person to blame.

“This is all your fault!” I said to my son. “If you didn’t have to have that Chili’s grilled cheese sandwich, I wouldn’t be in this predicament!”

But pointing the finger at my son did me no good. Eventually, I’d have to take responsibility for my actions. It was the right thing to do. I’d have to officiate those weddings and that baptism. I had donations to put to good use. And I had a new, respectable lifestyle to uphold. Indeed, I had to do what was right.

All I know is this: once I was blind and now I can see. Right or wrong, I withdrew from all my obligations and I sent the donations back. But I’m keeping my reverend card in case the cops ever pull me over and try to give me a ticket.

-May 2009

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