I once met god at a bar. At least, he said he was god. Or maybe a god. I don’t remember the semantics.
He was tall and had dark hair and green eyes, the kind of boy I would have liked to take home with me if he had actually been a boy and not a god and if I wasn’t so drunk. It was spring and he told me this information after we had made small talk about the game on TV and he bought me a drink – some specialty in the basement bar I frequented, where the bouncer always waved me in first and hugged me goodbye because he thought I was funny. The bar itself was small, really just a hallway bookended by pool tables. One wall was entirely a mirror, so that it looked much bigger than it was, presenting a flipped version of reality. I went often enough that I was invited to Easter dinner with the owner’s family that upcoming weekend.
I told the maybe-a-god-boy that and asked him what he was doing for the occasion.
I’ll probably be drunk, he said. He wore a denim jacket over a flannel that crossed lines of oranges and greens.
I didn’t want to go back to the friend who was flirting with some stranger, and I couldn’t be alone. So I spoke to god instead. What kind of god are you? I asked.
I didn’t tell him I had grown up in Sunday school, that my grandfather was a preacher. I didn’t tell him that I used to sing the advent hymn in the shower. I didn’t tell him that I had already thrown up once in the bathroom before he bought me a drink, that I hated my body so much it felt palpable, that I used conversations with strangers in bars to escape the reality of a life I hated. I didn’t tell him that I had grown up with a ceramic angel on my desk, that I had prayed to her every night to make me beautiful, that I believed she would carry this information to god who would decide if I was worthy. I didn’t tell him I had been raped last week, drugged at the same bar I was back at again, and that’s why I was so drunk and willing to try and meet a god. I didn’t tell him that I didn’t think I believed in god, or at least, I didn’t care enough to actively try to anymore. I didn’t tell him that I felt like an always open mouth, always taking and taking, hungry for things I could not explain. I didn’t tell him this feeling felt like a betrayal. I didn’t tell him I blamed myself for all of it, that I believed maybe I deserved for bad things to happen to me. I figured if he was god, he’d know all that stuff anyways.
You know, he said. The forgiving kind.
Like the New Testament kind of god? I asked.
Yeah, he said. At least, that’s what kind I want to be. I’m still working on it too.
He placed a twenty on the bar, sticky with liquor, and stood up and stretched. He was shorter than I thought a god would be.
© Kirsten Reneau
[This piece was selected by Sara Crowley. Read Kirsten’s interview]