I've settled into my new digs and am thrilled to have space again. Too much of it, in fact, but I'll manage. When you live in New York City, you have to choose between space and proximity to Manhattan. I'd dearly love to live in, oh, Tribeca, but 'twould be a broom closet that my meager income could afford. My taste leans toward the palatial, so clearly I'm not going to be a Manhattanite, unless I marry one, and that's sounding less appealing all the time. I'm twenty minutes from Manhattan, with glorious amounts of space, and Saint Joseph looking down on me from the church across the street. Doesn't get much better'n that. It's even possible that I'm happy.
There's wonderful diversity out here in the inner boroughs, from those fortunate enough to have lived here for many generations, to transplants like myself who have discovered the joys of outer city living. In my new neck of Bushwick, the only sign of gentrification is a crowded McDonalds. It's just a matter of time until the Starbucks' bloodhounds sniff out our 'hood and pee on the fire hydrants. But until then, Knickerbocker Avenue is strictly Hispanic. A few days ago I made the grave mistake of ducking into a Dominican restaurant and ordering a burrito. Hoo baby, bad idea. I'd have been better off ordering Chicken Chow Mein, or a turd on a bun. I guess the Dominicans are pretty uppity about what, and whom, they serve.
Now, as you might imagine in a community that's overwhelmingly Hispanic, there is no shortage of Christians here. And from what I can tell, not a lot of spiritual crises goin' on. These good people are solid in their faith and family, and that's that. It's enviable, and I got no problem widdit. You know this is leading up to a Big But, right? Yeah, so here it is:
I don't like to be preached to.
Let me put that another way: I seriously, majorly, ballistically don't like to be preached to. I didn't know this about myself until I moved out here. It was discovered on the subway. There seems to be some Christian order that requires its converts to preach salvation on the M train. All I know is that on three occasions, a guy (always a different guy) has gotten on my car, apologized for the interruption, and started telling the whole lot of us why we need to turn to Jesus.
A funny thing happens to me when these words hit my eardrums. It starts in my gut, waves of heat spreading slowly toward my extremities like an internal tsunami. I look around to see if my fellow passengers are likewise engulfed, but they seem to ignore the soothsayer effortlessly. Me, I'm aflame. I can't bear it. His presumptuous preaching falls on me like acid rain, and I fail all efforts to sit calmly.
Now, you may say that I'm possessed by demons. I don't think so. I don't have any problem with Christians, or with Christ, for that matter. It's a totally workable option, and I honor it wholeheartedly. I simply don't like to be preached to. It galls me that anyone would have the audacity to think he knows what God wants for my life. But what really gets me all postalcidal is when someone deigns to tell me that I'm a sinner.
Did you ever watch The Incredible Hulk? Okay, so imagine if he had a girlfriend. Madge, the Incredible Hulkette. Except that instead of green, I turn scarlet. My nostrils become cute little blowtorches. Two pointy nubs emerge from my temples, my tail swishes furiously, and from my loins there springs a resistance so mighty and terrible that it could pulverize an army of Crusaders. But all I got is one skinny Christian, nervously preaching Jesus and telling me why I seriously suck. What's a possessed heathen to do?
I gather my bags, grab my tail, and slither to another car. Hey, I may be possessed, but I'm still a coward. And I don't need to sully this guy's trip. He may be right, and God has instructed him to preach it on the M train. But God talks to me too, and has suggested that the reason I get so wigged out is because I used to preach my beliefs just like this guy. O, the irony! Our mortal foes always hold the largest mirrors.