I had the very rare opportunity to dine with a priest a few months ago, who is a friend of my grandmother’s. He sometimes scores free Yankee tickets from her.
The situation was not by my choice and I was most uncomfortable. I felt as though I had to display perfect table manners in the presence of a holy individual. I will call him Father Alan to protect his true identity, which is Father Joseph.
I am not a religious man, so my terminologies will be inaccurate. During his “speeches” made in church, he often tells jokes.
He did this during two funerals of my family members, and these jokes were appropriate and not offensive. People are quick to laugh in times of grief, as a much needed form of relief. I felt that his humor went over well, with no rolling over in the grave sort of remarks.
The others who dined with us knew that jokes were a part of Father Alan as much as his band collar. I could tell by the others’ expressions that they were growing tired of the jokes as I was.
All throughout dinner he told jokes, and it became so common for him to tell them that they were simply no longer funny. Had he used them sparingly, they would have been funny.
Also, the way he told them was in a conversational manner whereby I did not know when to take him seriously. I wanted to eat, but he wanted to entertain. He was really bothering me.
Of the many jokes he told, only one stands out in my mind, for obvious reasons. He turned to my grandmother and said, “They are forcing priests now to shower with bathing suits on.”
I did not know where this joke was headed (I hardly recognized it as a joke), but I said to myself, “Thank God. It’s about time.” I was thinking about all of the abuse allegations in the past, and now I think of all those happening now, with Edward Cardinal Egan. My grandmother was always concerned and replied, “That’s terrible.”
I still thought, “Thank God.”
But Father Alan went on: “Yeah, the Catholic Church is forcing priests to wear bathing suits because they don’t want us to look down at the unemployed.”
My fork hit my plate, and I looked around at the others’ expressions. Everyone thought it was funny but me.
Apparently, I went too deep into the joke and envisioned young children- altar boys, most likely- as “the unemployed,” meaning that the priests were looking down at young boys in the shower.
His intended joke of his unmentionable parts being the unemployed did not phase me until a few minutes later.
What the hell did he mean by that? Where’s my soup? What kind of priest is this?
I then thought it was ironic because the priests who molest kids do not actually have “unemployed” parts.
Either way, as I sat there meditating on this disgusting, but innocent joke, everyone else had forgotten about it and still had residual smiles on their faces.
Maybe they thought what I thought was funny. I just thought it was off-color.
I was eating tuna steak, and Father Alan turned to me and asked, “How’s the tuna steak?”
“Good,” I replied. I hoped this would be the end of our conversation.
“That’s good. It’s difficult to cook tuna because it gets so dry.”
I bet it does, creepo, I bet it does.