Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Lutheran walks into a Catholic Church...

I’m not Catholic and they're going to find me out.

I had already gotten fingerprinted as you all know for my new job as substitute teacher, but I still needed to do the seminar and I was panicking. I wasn’t worried about brainwashing. Though secipable to most charms, the religious kind I have a force field against.

I went over and over in my head the sign of the cross. Forehead, belly button, shoulder shoulder. Does it matter which side I touch first? My husband tells me not to worry. “You were raised Lutheran. It’s practically the same.” Yeah but you guys memorize shit! I’m fucked.

I walked into the church school grounds and found that the seminar would be held in a class room that’s across from a portable fireworks selling booth. Well they got to make money somehow. I sat down with the glaring red white and blue wooden giant fireworks booth to my left. Little exploding fireworks with smiling faces stared at me like they were saying just wait until you see what you’re in for. People started coming in. The mixture was...interesting. Chola girl. A lady that wouldn’t stop hacking. An old mexican man. Well they were all mexican except me. A woman came in, sat in the front row and took out her brand new spiral notebook. Kiss ass. The hacking lady between hacks asked me if I was going to be a nun? Um no. Am I really sending off that vibe in my motorcycle jacket and Chuck Taylors?

The instructor came in and welcomed us. She openedwith a prayer. Which I tried to take seriously until she started blessing carnival clowns and the Taco Bell owner down the street. I got through my first sign of the cross with flying colors. Whoo Hoo!

Then she told us the purpose of the seminar.

Now I thought this seminar was about how religion is a part of this school and this was a refresher course. Oh no.
“This seminar will teach you how to deal with predators.” She said
Crap. This is about molesters.
She passed out workbooks that we had to fill out as we went. Great. Do we get a molester seminar certificate at the end too?
“At the end of this seminar you will be qualified to perform Catholic duties.” She said.
To perform Catholic duties all it takes is knowing about child molesters.... hmmm. I look around. Does anyone else see how crazy that statement was? And this program has been around since the 80’s. How can I break it to her that this obviously didn’t work.
We had to watch a video. Great way to spend a Saturday I’m telling you.
“It’s hard to watch she says, but God has a plan,” she said.
The video was horrible. Kids recounting their molesting stories. Molesters themselves telling how they did it and why. Disturbing. But she whispered half way through the video that the holy spirit is with us so we’re fine (uh huh, sure).
After the video we break up into small discussion groups or more appropriately named the Sick Bastards Discussion Group. One woman retold stories she had heard. Really stuff I didn’t need to hear. The hacking lady said, “one thing I know is that molesters aren’t disfigured.” Okay, what?? Then one woman went on and on about how molesters play favorites with kids and that’s not cool. The other kids must get mad (Are you serious??). Another woman says that she thought she granddaughter’s teacher is a molester, because the teacher said kids are special. Okay, that might be taking a bit of a leap. They looked to me for a comment. All I could think of to say is that’s sick how they threaten the kids. The hacking lady looked to me and said, “If they threaten to kill their mom and dad, they should just say it’s okay. They’re going to heaven.” I smile and nod. Whoa...
Break time. I’m got the red punch (which was sadly just red punch).
We watched another video when we got back. A molester talked about how he liked slender fair children. A mexican lady whispered, “Prejudiced.”
The video continued. A gigantic fat predator told how he found his victims because he was a rollerskating teacher. I imagined him skating beautifully to “Oh MIcky you’re so Fine.” It made me want to hurl. He even had his own roller rink. Um what? That’s not weird or anything. No red flag, parents?
An Archbishop came on to make his necessary appearance. Of course I thought he was going to talk about how he got into being a pedophile, but he was essentially making his statement for the church. “We must protect children. Make no mistake. Child abuse exists.” I imagined him adding, “Expect priests and definitely not me.” He said all the right things. “This has been happening for a long time. We passed the buck.” Surprised me he said that. I’m sure he said off camera, “Except priests. Priest are awesome.”
The video ended and the teacher asked us what we can do to prevent such tragedy.
“Don’t go to skating rinks,” The hacking lady says.
“Well no, but be aware of who your kids are around,” the teachers says.
“Exactly,” the hacking lady says. I roll my eyes.
“If you have kids of your own, you shouldn’t tickle them anymore. Sends the wrong message,” The teacher says.
Really? That’s sad.
“Now when you teach your kids about their body. teach them the real names. Let’s hear some,” the teacher asked.
Penis. Vagina!. Butt! Elbow. Vagina! Breasts! Vagina!
Seriously. They said vagina at least 12 times. I looked over and the mexican man was asleep.
“Maybe instead of hugging the kids you teach you can high five or fist bump.” The teacher says.
The hacking lady raises her hand and says “I think it’s wrong for teachers to fist bump. That is wrong.” Then her cell phone rings. Lil’ Wayne is her ring tone.
We ended with a prayer. There was a lot of dear lord, dear gods. Improvised prayers are the best. I tease, but I really like prayer actually. In the middle of the longest run on sentence ever she said something that spoke directly to my life. It gave me chills.
I got my molester seminar certificate which was in spanish. So I think I passed. The instructor called my name “Beth Navarro” with accent and all, but when she saw I was a white girl (I just married one of you), her face fell. I’m pretty sure she wished she could take back the accent. The gang-banger looked like she wanted to kick my ass. I wanted to get out of there, but the carnival had started and I can’t turn away good sausage sandwich. I ate it as I walked to my car and passed a hummer limo parked in the front. I was in the Twilight Zone. Now I’m qualified to perform catholic duties and it’s making me hungry for some communion wafers.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Don't Act Like a Criminal

I am so weird around cops (and those of you who know me, yes I do realize this is ironic). I substitute teach occasionally and I just got hired on at a new school. The hiring process requires lots-o-paperwork and a thorough background check making sure I’m not a criminal or pedophile (The school is also a catholic school and required a seminar I had to go to. THAT is a whole other blog entry. Stay tuned). So included in this barrage of red tape I had to go through, I had to go to the police station to get fingerprinted.

I know. No big deal.

Maybe it’s because I’m an actor/writer and my imagination is constantly being worked and given mass doses of steroids. Maybe it’s because I haven’t always been the most law abiding citizen in the world (Nothing crazy i promise you. I mean who didn’t steal a gum from the 76 in grade school and stumble drunkenly down the street when they were in their 20‘s. And by “gum” I mean gap clothes and by “stumble drunkenly” I mean... Oh never mind). The origin doesn’t matter. The fact is I am totally nervous.
I go one evening to my local police department, check in and wait in the lobby. What’s happening in the lobby is interesting to me. A woman and a boy maybe 12 or 13 are talking to a sergeant. I eavesdrop. The boy is telling the officer about how he is being bullied at school. His mother is taking furious notes. Fucking junior high. In junior high something chemically changes in kids and makes transform from perfectly good and cute into into tremendous assholes willing to make the innocent eat cat shit. I was a naive skinny girl. I was good target back then. I nod to the kid understanding (I still am skinny. It’s just that super skinny models have made what I’ve always detested about myself okay, So keep on with the cocaine and anorexia ladies).
“Elizabeth Ann Navarro?” a short bald officer asks popping his head out of the door.
I snap back into the real reason I’m there. He used my full name. Really? Nothing worse to make me feel like I’m in trouble. My I walk back into the bowels of the station following this officer clutching my paperwork. He’s making some sort of small talk, but all that is running through my head is: Don’t act like a criminal. I’m not a criminal. Be cool. Act cool. You won’t be found out. There’s nothing to be found! Shut up Beth. Be cool! Remember cops are almost like real people.

Before I know it we are at the holding cells. I freeze. What the hell! Is this a trick? I start backing up.
“It’s through here,” the cop says. “ I like your purse by the way.”
He leads me to the middle of the four cells they have there (none occupied thank god. I did not want to have a silence of the lambs moment). And there is the fancy finger printing station. This is no ink and paper operation. It’s all computerized now. I realize this is where people who’ve been arrested go to get finger printed too. He takes out some sanitizer and sprays down the machine. Well that’s good. While I’m waiting I start to get antsy and start tot want to do very inappropriate things. I want to grab his gun. Why do they have to make that so tempting??!? I want to rub his bald head. I want to get him in a choke hold and noogie him. I want to snap the cord of his radio repeatedly against his back.
My arm starts to raise of it’s own accord. Down arm down! Stop it Beth! But this is what goes through my head when I’m around cops. Welcome to my brain, grab a cocktail and enjoy the insanity.
“I’m ready for you!” He says with a weird grin on his face. I’m wondering if he’s like this when a murderous felon is being arrested.
I imagine him smiling a lazy smile at the criminal he’s caught telling him, he really likes his boots and grabbing his hands to fingerprint saying “Let’s get this show on the road, guy!”
There is something about fingerprint taking that I didn’t realize. It’s sort of an intimate process. He takes my hands. I tense up immediately. He tells me to relax them and make them all floppy.
“Let me look at your fingertips,” he says. “Yeah, those are nice.”
Okay that was sort of creepy.
The starts the fingerprinting process and to my relief unclicks the criminal box on my profile. It’s over in a few minutes. My fingerprints whiz through the system and I’m done.
The cop leads me out and winks saying, “Let’s hope you pass!” He’s joking, but that just speeds up the “Be cool. Don’t act like a criminal” monologue in my head. I leave the police station feeling like I got away with something (God I am so dramatic). What did I learn from this ordeal? Not much except I totally need to book something on Law and Order: Los Angeles or Southland. I am ready people.

Disclaimer: I do not think cocaine and anorexia are okay. It’s a joke people.