For Sale

REALTOR: So here we are.

WIFE: Oh my God. It’s so clean.

HUSBAND: Whitewashed.

WIFE: Yes. And quiet.

HUSBAND: Like a tomb.

WIFE: Don’t be morbid. (To REALTOR) He’s a writer.

REALTOR: Ah.

WIFE: Now who did you say lived here? A meth dealer?

REALTOR: Oh, um –

HUSBAND: She didn’t say that.

WIFE: I know she didn’t say that, we know she didn’t say that, I’m saying it now, to spare her the embarrassment of having to say it.

HUSBAND: How would you even know if a meth dealer lived here?

WIFE: I do watch television sometimes.

REALTOR: It was a man named Matthew Jones. (Beat.) And yes, he was a meth dealer.

WIFE(To HUSBAND): You see? (To REALTOR) Did he also use?

REALTOR: Yes, but –

WIFE: A dealer and a user. That’s a regrettable combination. The dealing is bad enough, but the using is just unprofessional.

HUSBAND: Well you have to believe in your product.

WIFE: I don’t think humor is appropriate now, do you?

HUSBAND: It never is. That’s why I like it.

REALTOR: He’s clean now.

WIFE: Excuse me?

REALTOR: Matthew’s clean now. He went through the Teen Challenge program. He’s on staff, actually.

WIFE: What?

REALTOR: He’s on staff at Teen Challenge. He’s speaking at their banquet at the end of the month.

HUSBAND: Is he the one Fox interviewed who said addiction was demon possession?

WIFE: You know that’s the first sensible thing I’ve heard about addiction. All this silliness about it being a disease.

HUSBAND: Everybody wants it to be something that can be exorcised or cured. They don’t want to believe it’s a part of them, like a pancreas or a spleen.

WIFE: The body can function without a pancreas or a spleen.

HUSBAND: It can also function without sex, but where is that going to get us?

WIFE: Somewhere better than here.

HUSBAND: Where the grass is greener?

WIFE: Yes, grown with love instead of bullshit. (Beat. To REALTOR) Excuse my language. It’s just been happening lately.

REALTOR: I understand.

WIFE: Do you?

REALTOR: No, but I find that pretending to understand makes both parties feel better.

WIFE: It does. Say it again please.

REALTOR: No.

WIFE: Thank you.

(Beat.)

HUSBAND: Wasn’t he in the bathtub for three days?

REALTOR: What?

HUSBAND: The meth dealer. Wasn’t he passed out in the bathtub for three days?

REALTOR: I think that was his wake up call.

WIFE: How could he even hear the phone ringing?

REALTOR: Well he did and now he’s speaking at the banquet with the Lieutenant Governor.

HUSBAND: You mean the Private Lieutenant Governor.

REALTOR: What?

HUSBAND: He wants to privatize everything.

WIFE: Including prisons. Just think how much money we would save in taxes if the prison system were being run like a good business.

REALTOR: If it were a good business we’d be trying to keep people out of it. Privatization would have the opposite effect.

WIFE: I wonder if the meth dealer knows about all that.

REALTOR: If not, I’m sure they won’t tell him before he gets up on the platform with the Lieutenant Governor.

HUSBAND: He knows. He’s in support of privatization.

WIFE: I really admire this meth dealer.

REALTOR: His name is Matthew.

WIFE: Who?

REALTOR: The meth dealer – the man who lived here before. His name is Matthew.

WIFE: From demon possession to local politician. I suppose it doesn’t get much better than that.

Prime & Paint

A fashion designer would describe it as “mesmerize.” I would describe it as “slate.” A normal person would describe it as “bluish gray.” It is the color of our new church building.

I grab a roller and a tray, position my headphones and pick Steve Reich’s The Four Sections. It is minimal and meditative without being simplistic or repetitive. The mallet percussion become little monks ringing little bells in my ears, calling me to divine serenity.

And I need SERENITY NOW! It’s that damn Dallas Willard. Such a harmless name, isn’t it? Like a southern small town high school math teacher. To me, he’s more dangerous than Michael Jackson. Particularly for referring to a certain Bible version’s translation of a verse as “terribly mistaken.”*

Terribly mistaken?

This statement is like selling bombs to terrorists. It’s like giving Satan the key to the front door, the back door, the cat door. It’s like, wrong? God’s not powerful enough to ensure accurate translation of this verse? What about the rest of His Word?**

I remove my headphones and release all of this to my Pastor, who is painting next to me.

“Yeah, well, you know, the original Hebrew doesn’t say Mary was a virgin,” he informs, “it says she was a young maiden.”

“What has been primed and what has been painted?” I snap, waving at the wall. “I can’t tell the difference.”

“I know they’re close, ” he says, “but get some light on it, you’ll be able to tell.”

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*Context of the quote, for those who care: “…translations of Matt. 5:28 that say, ‘everyone who looks at a woman and desires her,’ or ‘everyone who looks at a woman with desire,’ are terribly mistaken.” And now the context of me, for those who care: Although I look at women, especially when they are talking to me, I do not and desire them or with desire them. I do desire to be them, but only when they are touching some intolerably attractive man.

**The slippery slope argument, or, as I call it, the Slip ‘n Slide argument. It’s all fun and games until someone breaks their neck. Which, sadly, actually happened a couple of times.

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

St. Paul convicts by way of confession. He’s like Scorpion in Mortal Kombat, throwing his arrow of truth right into my heart, pulling towards him, and then uppercutting me. But in the name of God, not revenge.

I understand why he’s upset; he’s celibate.

I know how upsetting it is. All of that extraneous sexual energy is redirected into my personality, which decides to form a color guard, with flags flailing with flamboyance, airblades slashing with wit, batons thrusting with independence, sabers stabbing with superiority.

But when the crowd goes home, I am alone. That pagan skeleton inside of me starts to dance. How sexy can it be without being sex? he asks, and his distal phalange screeches on the blackboard as he writes the equations:

(interesting person – only interested in their body) touching over underwear + kissing with tongue = delectable, forgivable

(seemingly nice person – never met them before) taking off shirts/pulling down underwear x groping organs until they orgasm = incredible, despicable

Expressions, identities, constants, variables…The math can’t explain my actions, or solve my regret. I am on the ground. I am bleeding from the heart.

Then St. Paul is at my side, offering a hand, saying, “And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.”