This is what I was thinking all during Mass. We're all singing "Glory to God in the highest," two hundred girls in uniform skirts raising up our voices to God. Well, two hundred girls minus one. I was just mumbling along, because I don't really believe in God most of the time, and because I was thinking about how we have to go to Confession after Mass, and because the dizzying ring of organ and musky incense smell were making me nauseated. Mass kinda makes me think of this Terry Gilliam movie I saw the other week called Brazil, which is, like, this futuristic distopian world where everything's all dark and cramped, and everyone's loud, and all the women smile condescendingly in their clownish makeup, and all the camera angles make everything look distorted, and the whole time I was watching it I felt really claustrophobic. That's what Mass is like — the darkness, the people jammed in rigid pews, the, like, eerily complacent smiles of all the marble angels, the, like, decadent, monstrous gold altar. So, I guess that's my first few sins right there: not paying attention in Mass, hating Mass, and not believing in God — sometimes.
So, we're — or they're — all done singing and now we're kneeling, and the priest — or you, actually — is talking about the Last Supper and how we must eat Jesus' flesh and drink His blood, and, meanwhile, I feel like hurling, and I can't stop thinking I gave someone a blowjob, I gave someone a blowjob.
I wonder if there's a hierarchy of sexual sins, or all sex acts outside of marriage considered equally evil in the eyes of the Church? Is getting a handjob worse than masturbating? Is sex much worse than a blowjob? Or is regular intercourse that much better than anal sex? Or is it once you cross a certain line, everything is equally bad? I wonder if I've crossed that line. And I wonder if sex is worse than stealing or cheating or even making fun of someone.
I don't know why I'm worrying about this — I pretty much decided God wasn't worth believing in when I was eight years old — which probably makes you wonder why I'm even here (it's because we're required for class) or why I'm telling you all this (it's just that I've been keeping all this inside all week and it's been driving me crazy and I just need to tell someone that can maybe give me some advice or tell me eveything's going to be okay, and I'm sure as hell not going to tell my parents — my mom'll probably cry at the thought of me becoming one of those girls she's always warned me about — or any of my teachers, because that's just, like, weird). But anyway, back to how I stopped believing in God — it was in Miss Werner's religion class. We were sitting Indian-style in a circle on the floor and learning the Apostle's Creed. Or maybe it was the Act of Contrition. Well, it was one of those really long ones — you know, like, "We are sinners and don't deserve your love but give it to us anyway," —and it had this line, "And save us from the fires of hell." When I saw that line, I was way freaked out.
I was chewing on one of my braids, and my braid sort of just fell out of my mouth and my hand shot up.
"Yes, Lydia?" Miss Werner asked, tossing her crazy brown curls out of the way. She had big, crazy 80s hair.So, I asked if there was really such a place as Hell, and I remember my voice was all shaky and that I could hear my classmates giggling, but I didn't really care; why worry about what my classmates thought when there were much bigger issues — like damnation! — to be concerned about. Plus, they were all stupid anyway and made fun of me because I liked to sit by myself and read or draw pictures at recess and because I chewed my hair and sometimes hummed to myself absent-mindedly in class.
And Miss Werner said, "Well, yes, you've learned about Hell before."
And I said, "Well, yeah, but just in stories and stuff —"
And then Miss Werner told me in a really sweet but kinda condescending voice that the stories in the Bible aren't "stories," they're real. I must have looked concerned or confused, because then she assured me, "You have nothing to worry about, Lydia; as long as you believe in God and Jesus, you'll go to heaven."
And then I asked her what about the people who don't believe in God or Jesus. Would they go to Hell?
This is the reason I'm so fucked up now, for sure. Oh shit! Sorry about that. I guess that's another one of my sins — swearing too much. Ha ha. But anyway, having your whole belief system shatter at age eight is totally detrimental — it has to be.
I asked what if they're good people? What if they never learned about Jesus? It's not their fault is it?
Miss Werner forced a smile, but her eyes were sad. "Lydia, you shouldn't worry about these things," and then kinda dismissively flicked her wrist and asked if anyone else had any questions.
I didn't pay attention to the rest of the lines of the Act of Apostles . . . or whatever that prayer was. I was debating whether I should stop believing in God and run the risk of perishing in hell after I die.
So, anyway, I guess I should tell you about the blowjob. My friend Heather's sister goes to Pitt, and she's a freshmen. So, for New Year's Eve some of these guys she knows were having a party at their house, and she was going to bring Heather along, and Heather wanted me to come. I knew my parents wouldn't let me go to a college party — I'm only fifteen — but I really wanted to go, so I told them I was sleeping over Heather's, which I guess counts as two other sins — lying and disobeying my parents. Good thing I don't believe in Hell, because otherwise I'd seriously worry I was headed down there soon. Ha ha.
So, we get to the party in this tiny house that was really crowded and kinda smelly, and the whole kitchen floor was sticky with spilled beer. I had never drank before, so after two beers I was feeling pretty goofy. In the living room there were people dancing, and Heather and I headed over there, and this guy started dancing with me. He told me he was a sophmore and an Asian-Studies major, which seemed pretty cool. I told him I was "undecided," but that I really liked English so I would probably major in that — I wasn't technically lying. During a Talking Heads' song he said I had really beautiful, exotic green eyes and that they stood out with my purple hair. Now, I've always been kinda scared of guys since I've gone to all-girls' school my whole life but this guy seemed nice, and I was pretty buzzed, and I totally was not used to people showering compliments on me and was rather enjoying it. So I let him keep telling me I was pretty and then I let him kiss me on the dance floor. He said he lived there and asked if I wanted to see his room. I had this kind of scared, but elated, feeling; I figured he wanted some action, but I told myself I was okay with that. He was pretty cute — tousled black hair, blue eyes, medium height. So we go up and kiss some more and I let him pull my retro-print dress over my head. And then I let him lay me down on the floor and slip off my underwear — I was kinda embarrassed because I had these big, goofy-looking bloomers with panda bears on them that look like they belong to a five-year old. And then I let him tell me what to do to him. I let him tell me to unbutton his fitted flannal shirt and undo his weathered leather belt and unzip his jeans. I was terrified, but I kinda wanted to do it. I had never seen a penis in person before. My last boyfriend and I were never naked together, so I was kind of excited. He told me to touch it, and I did — it was hard but a little squishy. He told me to rub it and so I did, and it was really weird because it almost seemed to move rhythmically on its own, separate from his body. I looked in his eyes, and he was staring at me really intensely it almost looked scornful. I thought he should have looked happier, maybe I wasn't doing it right. Then he told me to put it in my mouth.
I just kinda stared at him, my eyes felt like they were going to pop out of my head. I was trying to see the same guy I had been dancing with, but he seemed so different — no more dimples, no more shy, flirtatious smile, no more hushed smooth voice. I wanted to run away, but he kept telling me to do it, and he had a pretty firm grip on my arm, so I said okay, examining it for a while, wondering how to best get my lips around it.
When I first put it to my lips it didn't feel too bad, so I just sort of kissed it a few times then I licked the tip. I imagined it to taste salty, like skin everywhere else does, but it was more sour than anything. Then I basically did the same thing I had done with my hand, just with my mouth, and it wasn't as difficult as I had anticipated, but it wasn't exactly enjoyable. I did feel like gagging a few times. I could smell his pubic hair — musky, potent — since my nose was so close, and that didn't really help. So I'm moving my head up and down, trying to switch it up between just sucking and then licking, so I could make it exciting and not as monotonous, but it seriously felt like it was taking forever. And I was wondering the whole time whether I should spit or swallow whenever he — you know — but, there was, like, NO WHERE to spit it out, unless I spit it out on the floor, which would've been really really rude and disgusting of me. But then, finally, he came, and it was, like, sour and slimy, and I had to force it down my throat, and it didn't go down smoothly at all — it was all clumpy, or lumpy, or something. He then asked if he wanted me to return the favor, but I was too repulsed and exhausted and told him I had to go back to my dorm and write a paper. He didn't even ask me why I would be writing a paper over winter break, he just sort of rolled over and passed out.
I felt really horrible afterwards. I felt like no matter how many times I showered I couldn't get that sticky semen-residue out, couldn't drive the stench of his pubic hair away. No matter how many times I brushed my teeth, I'd taste his acrid cum. And the worst was my mouth felt swollen for days — still feels swollen. I swear every time I look in the mirror that my lip looks puffy and that everyone who sees me'll know. They'll know what I did. It's like this stigma I have to carry around as punishment — so that when nice boys see me they can turn the other way, or when my classmates see me they'll whisper and click their tongues as I walk by.
So, I guess that's it. The thing is, I don't want my penance to be one Hail Mary, or, well, in my case it'd probably be more like five hundred, wouldn't it? Ha ha. No, I want something else — some advice, some question to ponder, something that'll make me a better person. I mean, the thing is, I do want to believe in God. I really do. But I can only believe in a God that's fair and loves everyone and doesn't send people to Hell and that doesn't give eight-year-old girls nightmares. Maybe if God's like that, I'll believe in Him, and He'll make me want to be good. So can you tell me that? Can you tell me that God will love me even if I have sex with someone or keep secrets from my mom or if I don't always believe in Him? Or is that too much for a sinner like me to ask?
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