I went to Catholic school for 13 years, five of those years as an altar boy, so I've spent a lot of time around priests as a kid, and nothing ever happened to me ... at least I'm pretty sure nothing ever happened to me. It's impossible to be absolutely certain. Because the media made it sound like every altar boy during my tenure as an alter boy had been molested. So when that scandal broke, I started second-guessing my entire childhood. I revisited every single encounter I ever had with a priest to make sure I wasn't missing something.
After filing through and dismissing virtually all of my childhood interactions with priests, I determined there was only one possible situation where something actually could've happened. When I was around 10 or 11, this frail old priest with these giant, black futuristic-looking prescription sunglasses drove over to my house, picked me up and took me out to dinner at Roy Rogers. It was just the two of us.
|That's me: Third row, first dude from the left. The quote at the top of the picture is a nice touch for this story.|
From what I remember, it was a normal, if slightly boring, experience. True, this priest was guilty of taking me to a low-level fast food restaurant. After all, McDonald's and Burger King were right in the same vicinity. But I had absolutely no reason to think anything inappropriate ever took place …except for the hundreds and hundreds stories on the scandal that had a similar beginning: “This man of God used to get young boys alone with promises of fast food, but you’ll never believe what these young boys got instead. Story at 11.”
I went over the Roy Rogers trip in my head so obsessively that I convinced myself something must’ve happened, and I'd just blocked it out. I even asked my mom if she remembered that frail priest with the huge glasses taking me to dinner. She remembered the Roy Rogers trip all right, and she thought it was weird and she was even a little worried while I was gone. She also told me she was sure nothing life-altering had happened. But instead of just assuring me nothing happened, she had to give me her personal theory on why it didn't.
“Hon, you need to stop worrying about this, you weren't even gone long enough to be, you know, molested, molested.”*
I know she meant to put my mind at ease, but because of the words she chose, “molested, molested,” it sounded to me like she was saying, "Hon, there’s no way anything too traumatic could’ve happened in such a short amount of time, but even if, god forbid, you had your sac tickled a little, at least you got a free meal out of it.”
I guess what I'm saying is sometimes it's good to second-guess the way you remember the past. Thanks to my little trip down memory lane, and the conversation with my mom that followed, I learned that the logistical possibility of my being molested during a trip to Roy Rogers with my parish priest was extremely low. Besides, without looking back, I never would've learned about my mom's unique version of the "Five-Second Rule" regarding molestation. Apparently, a child, much like a slice of pizza that falls on a dirty floor, will be just fine as long as long as he or she is only touched inappropriately for a minimal amount of time.
*Note: I intentionally left out the part of the story where my mom made it a point to stress I acted perfectly normal (for me) when I returned from the Roy Rogers trip, which helped convince her everything was fine. But that's pretty boring, and nobody wants to hear that part, right?