A Gay and an Atheist Walk into a Church Again (And Win)

Read the original A Gay and an Atheist Walk into a Church HERE

1. We sail together through the doors of the historic chapel for the baptism of our friend’s second child, this time confident that we will not spontaneously combust or cause structural damage. (Points: 1)

2. We greet the family and coo over the adorable baby in her christening gown. I don’t remember exactly what Ray said, but the important thing is that it wasn’t, “Aww, how cute! He looks like a tiny pimp!” (Points: 1)

3. Ray tells everyone that I am wearing Spanx, but refrains from describing how said garment is cutting off the circulation to my vulva. (Before I put it on, I said to my lady parts, “You will not see the light of day for a few hours. It’s OK. The light will come again.”) (Mentioning Spanx = bad decision, but refraining from using the word “vulva” = good decision. Points: 0)

4. We notice that the crack in the ceiling we observed two years ago has disappeared. Restoration project, or divine healing spurred by a two-year span of virtuous behavior from Ray and Abby? You decide. I vote for the latter. (Points: 1)

5. I suppress the urge to take a pre-baptism selfie. (Points: 1)

6. I remind Ray of the previous ceremony, when he’d said, “You know what would make this a lot more interesting? If, like, one in four babies combusted when you put the water on them because they were demons.” (Harmless nostalgia. No points deducted.)

7. Observing the crowd, we notice that the ceremony will baptize multiple children. Four, to be exact. The two of us calculate, using our mighty math powers, that we’re practically guaranteed to see a combustion. We both cross our fingers. (Points: -1)

8. After “Jesus said of the children, ‘Bring them to me, so I can touch them’,” we exchange a glance. (I’d like to know who among you would refrain from doing so, but I acknowledge the inappropriateness. Points: -1).


9. Sitting in the pews reminds me of sitting in History of Science in Lewis Hall of Science at 8 am Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The room had hard benches with little lift-up desktops. Ray, our friend standing at the altar, another friend, and I passed a notebook among us, writing a collaborative story in which our professor was a mad scientist. Maybe it’s all the nineties music I listened to on the drive, but I feel a pang of nostalgia so sharp I have to take a breath. I can still feel the wooden bench against my back and hear Ray opening the Nutri-Grain bar he ate every day. I feel so old. I miss my college roommate, who doesn’t talk to me anymore. I want to cry. (Points: 0)

10. At the altar, the priest is making the parents promise to teach their children to eschew “the glamour of evil” and “the Prince of Darkness.” I’m glad I wore my demure black and white dress instead of my Satan t-shirt (Points: 1), and tell Ray so, causing us to titter (Points: -1). I wonder if we’re being as “assholish” as one of our professors once accused of us being when we sat next to each other in class. Probably. (Points: -2)

11. I think about how I was baptized once—the same year Ray and I sat on the wooden benches learning about the history of science, I believe. I remember the lost feeling that caused me to seek out the faith of my then-boyfriend, and I regret having done something so inconsistent with my values. I only half-lived during those years, the anxiety was so severe. My best friends—perhaps unwittingly, not even knowing how sick I was—pulled me up and away from the dark thing every day. That is why Ray and I are here, together, for our friend. As we refused to leave each other then, as we refused to leave each other in our stories, so we refuse to do so now.

And so, even though according to our point system we’ve barely broken even, I call the day a win.