This is Joe’s senior picture. He graduated from an all-boys Jesuit high school in 1993 when I was 11 years old. I’m weak for bow ties, so you can see now why I fell for him. I needed some information about Lent, so I figured I’d go to the source.
I was jawing with my best friend Ro
last week and she casually brought up this business of Lent. She said she was giving up pasta, and naturally I responded by saying, “What? For Jesus? Jesus wants you to give up pasta? If I were Jesus, I’d be like eat the pasta
. It’s just a starch.”
And she responded (as she does every year) that Lent is a Catholic tradition, that she’s been giving up beloved foods since she was a kid, and like all good Catholics, she must sacrifice something she loves for Lent.
“Is it really a sacrifice?” I asked.
“Yes of course,” she said. “I love pasta.”
So I mulled it over – this hullabaloo over Lent – as I’ve mulled it over for years. Raised by an atheist mother and a non-practicing Lutheran father, who has an appetite like a bear, I’ve never been asked to give up pleasurable food for 40 days.
I could give you my heathen opinion
on the matter, but who am I to tell gluttonous Catholics there’s a chance this ritual pleases Jesus less and Richard Simmons
more? I’ve got plenty of asinine rituals myself (ie: crossing my fingers and kissing them twice before taking off in an airplane), so who am I to knock Lent when I believe crossing my fingers and kissing them twice keeps airplanes in the sky?
So I hung up the phone with Ro, and told Joe I was giving up sarcasm for Lent.
“It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for awhile.”
“What about food?”
“Nope. Who gives a shit if I give up a food? Jesus? This whole Lent thing seems bunk. If Jesus were in our kitchen right now, he’d make himself a turkey sammie, and tell me that when he gave up sarcasm he noticed a huge improvement in his gospels.”
Now understand: Joe is a writer too. A writer and editor at Tampa’s snarktastic Creative Loafing
. Telling Joe you give up sarcasm is like telling Mrs. Butterworth
you give up pancakes.
As I left the living room and turned the corner into the hallway, I shouted, “I want to return to writing more meaningful things! Things that make people sigh!”
Last night I interviewed Joe about Catholic sacrifices. The transcript is below.
Hey Joe? Can I interview you about Lent?
Before you became a heathen, what did you give up?
Chocolate ice cream.
You always gave up chocolate ice cream?
I always gave up chocolate ice cream.
Because you love it madly?
I was obsessed with the fact that I could have it for breakfast one day a year.
What day was that?
Easter. I had a deal with my folks that if I gave up chocolate ice cream for Lent, I could have it for breakfast on Easter.
Did you think you were a better person because of it?
I probably dug the God part of it then.
When did you stop giving up chocolate ice cream for Lent?
By my early teens I was off the religion bandwagon.
Yet you continued to go to an all-boys Catholic school? That’s like being a member of Styx and hating your No. 1 song.
Yes it is. It’s like being a member of Styx and hating Come Sail Away.
Why do people always give up food?
People typically give up things they do or enjoy that are frivolous or pleasurable.
Like sex things?
Yes. Catholics give up food and SEX THINGS. Ya know, God, for Lent I decided to give up anal beads.
What did your parents give up?
My dad gave up ketchup.
Do you know what a sacrifice that was for him? He puts ketchup on ketchup. You know, on Fridays during Lent you couldn’t eat meat either.
Yeah, I know. How did you survive without chicken and chocolate ice cream?
We had pizza night and tuna fish sandwich night. My mom used to make a giant plate of tuna fish sandwiches with potato chips. It was always more than we could ever eat. It was like nature’s bounty on the table.
I was always jealous of that part. I used to claim I was Catholic when my parents would force me to eat meat on Fridays.
Do you often interview people in a towel?
Is that all m’am? I don’t usually talk to the press.
Yeah, I guess I’m done with you.
If you’d like to know what it’s like to eat a pound of chocolate ice cream for breakfast, I’d be happy to fill you in.
PS. Joe’s senior quote is from Guns N’ Roses‘ Estranged. W.A.R = William Axl Rose. He felt the lyrics were a perfect senior quote. Melodramatic and angtsy … because nothing says Fuck You like a bow tie.