I don’t like a preening piety and besides, that hopped up preacher smiles so much I'm sure it's a tic, the corners of his mouth dragged up by a twitchy urge to ingratiate. Those strobing teeth haywire Mason’s brain into epileptic-like fits of spasmodic clutching at churchy dogma. Lord there's no end to how tired I am of bible quotes, secondhand sermons and a realtor’s patter aimed at selling me a tract in some pearly gated community. I'm not in the market, pal.
People here ask what church you attend with the same settled expectancy with which a neighbor once asked “What’s your local?” and they react to my response with the same unsettled disappointment. I’ve been disappointing people all my life - it's my talent.
When I was a kid, sixth or seventh grade, I eavesdropped on my mother talking with a friend; she used a phrase I didn't know, but the rest of their conversation told me what it meant. Not long after, my mother called into question a chore I’d done, giving me the opportunity to throw down my shiny new phrase like a winning poker hand: “You’re casting aspirations on me! ” Mom collapsed into laughter. After she unfolded herself she told me I meant aspersions. I didn't learn about Freudian slips until later.
Talents take differently, I guess. Mason regularly disappoints, yet somehow does it without making hard feelings. Blessed with low expectations, we shrug and get on with it. Maybe next time, we think. Sometimes forgiveness looks like a complex algebraic equation where intention and expectation are constants. The variable is always love. Mason isn't good at math, but it turns out he doesn't have to be. Other people might think the ability to screw shit up and still be liked is Mason’s true talent, but I know it isn’t: his real talent is keeping faith that everything will be alright in the end. I mostly believe that, too - but my faith flickers and whines like a flourescent light tube. Mason’s shines like the sun.
If that preacher starts on me I'll tell him "you want to talk miracles? Mason sugar-tongued me into making enough peach cobbler to feed his legion of Christian friends at the next church supper."