The Life and Times of an Aspiring Saint
Hi and welcome to The B, the new biweekly Friday column made by and for bisexuals, pansexuals, the sexually fluid, queer, and anyone else who is attracted to people of more than one gender.
I slid out of my mother’s womb filled with the unshakeable belief that I had arrived to conquer. As a child, my favorite playtime activity was to brainstorm different professions that would put me as one of the select few who stayed famous forever. Raising a giant army and conquering the world like Alexander the Great was considered but eventually rejected because I didn’t want to have to kill anyone. Becoming a scientist and discovering some kind of important world changing science thing was also considered, but being stuck in a lab seemed boring and there was no guarantee you would be famous, just your invention. It seemed like a crapshoot, the Wright Brothers had a book written about them but not the guy who invented the helicopter, so being an inventor wasn’t worth the risk. Being president seemed like a solid choice, but after some investigative questioning I learned the president mostly sat around and signed things all day while everyone complained about them, which didn’t seem all that enjoyable. No, time and time again I realized the only occupation for me was professional sainthood.
The pros were numerous. I would get to go on adventures in different countries while starting orphanages, rescuing beggars, and awing people with my amazing, spontaneous sermons in the square. People would love me forever, and I would get to be in charge: these two things were very important to me and didn’t seem to go hand in hand in any other profession. I would arrive in Rome at the perfect time to convince keep the Pope from making a terrible mistake, some cardinals would be angry but history would prove me right. I would get to perform miracles. Miracles are cool. I wouldn’t have to worry about money, because said miracles would keep me fed and clothed. Jesus and the Virgin Mary would pop in for casual visits, which would make up for leaving my friends and family behind. Once I died I got a straight shot to heaven, none of that purgatory unpleasantness. In heaven, I could continue to be a presence on earth by performing miracles and appearing to other saints -in -training to offer encouragement, no other dead people got this perk. Most importantly, someone would write a children’s saints book about me. I had a collection of children’s saint books that I cherished, and there was nothing I wanted more than to be a member of that august collection. By the time I was five years old, I had already figured out the cover I wanted – walking on a dusty road in a vibrant but poor city, surrounded by adorable brown children, with a large wooden, rosary that I had hand carved myself, conspicuously draped around my folded, praying hands.
Lest you think that this was but an idle daydream, my childhood self worked extremely hard to achieve this goal. All of my saints book had a childhood chapter, and I followed their example diligently. Every night, I offered to help my mother with the chores after I had finished my own. The best nights were when she said no, because the intent and the offering got me the grace points but I didn’t have to do anything else. I played with my younger sister even when I didn’t want to. I told the truth when it got me in trouble. I didn’t swear even when the popular kids did. I prayed every night, and one afternoon when I was 9, I prayed the entire rosary, fifteen decades WITH the scriptural readings. It took me three hours. I was very proud of myself but never did it again.
I quickly came up with my own little shortcuts, sainthood hacks if you will. I had very clearly read that the prayers of the innocent children moved God’s heart the most, which meant I had a finite amount of time to be the most effective, but there seemed to be an infinite amount of things that needed praying for, and it was taking me forever to go through everything I could think of but there never seemed like a fair place to mark the cutoff. After several nights of deep thought on how to solve this ethical puzzle, I realized God probably knew who needed help better than me, so I dedicated my nightly rosary to “everyone who needs it”, and thenceforth whenever I heard stories of miracles and good news, nodded at myself approvingly. Me and God, we were the dream team, changing the world one miracle at a time. I didn’t mention my aspirations to anyone, that would have been the sin of pride, but I was pretty sure that I was killing it on the sainthood path. After all, most Sundays when I went to confession, I couldn’t even think of anything to confess!
As I hit the teen years, I slowly drifted away from my holy aspirations, lured by the siren song of friends, good grades, and theater I had less time to dedicate to my sacred quest. By the time I looked into the a girl’s eyes and felt my heart skip a beat, I only whispered the smallest of goodbyes as my direct express to heaven floated away, and I leaned in to kiss her.
Yet, blind ambition with moral aspirations cannot be quelled. An honest examination of my conscious reveals I never really gave up my dreams on sainthood, merely changed their aesthetic. My new trinity was feminism, sex positivity, and LGBTQ rights. The country in need of missionaries was Hollywood. My mission was representation couched in hilarious and thought provoking televisions. My new saints whose memoirs I read for inspiration and information: Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Shonda Rhimes, Mindy Kaling. My confidence about breaking into a famously incestuous old boys club where I had no connections? Boundless.
But when – okay if- my wildest dreams come true, and in hundred years I receive my canonization of a lifetime achievement award , I’m sure many of whatever has replaced think pieces will be written by six wave feminists and queer activists, praising my good intentions but ultimately noting my work was flawed, informed by a belief system long ago proven to be condescending/too timid/too labeled/too murky/too self righteous/too self doubtful/too broad/not inclusive enough. I’ll be but an inspiration or a footnote to those who follow, who will have a purer, more enlightened view of the world than I. People who, as wee tots, would have instantly recognized the racial bias involved in seeing myself as a white savior. Women who never cried after kissing a girl, who never used a gender based insult even after they knew better, who never made the world worse while trying to make it better. It’ll be an age of saints and heroes, or at least filled with people a little less damaged than us. They’ll be too good for me, my saintly aspirations downgraded to a mere venerable. I hope so, the world deserves better than my flawed attempts to fix it. Perhaps by then, the Catholic Church will have relented and I’ll get a few post mortem miracles opportunities,