Helen slides open the little slidey door-thing in a confessional and says, "Bless me Father, for I have sinned " She laughs nervously and adds, "That sounds so old-school." Hey, at least you don't have to say it in Latin. A familiar voice asks, "How long has it been since your last confession?" Helen looks through the lattice: "Father Ken, is that you?" Frink: "Man, how weird must that be?" He starts asking me a bunch of questions about confession, and about whether people can see the priest or whether they know the priest and how that all works. Because in this house, I am the go-to person for questions about Christianity, even though I was brought up Protestant (Baptist) and am no expert on Catholicism, which is probably the Christian religion he is most curious/confused about. Still, I know more than he does about it (plus, I have kind of an obsession with saints and anchorites, and more than a passing interest in nuns and medieval Christianity) so I end up fielding a lot of questions. I also end up sending him to Google a lot of the time, as I simply am not in a position to explain (let alone justify) a lot of Catholic doctrine. For him there is just not a lot of difference between Catholicism and Protestantism -- it's all one big Jesus-y glob to him -- so when he first met my parents, he was a little concerned that their house would be full of crucifixes and rosaries and stuff. Which still makes me laugh my ass off, almost a decade later, not least because even if my family were Catholic, they're about as religious as Fred Flintstone. But he honestly had no idea what to expect, and I had my own worries about his parents' religious tendencies, so I guess I shouldn't laugh. (Except I mostly turned out to be right.)
Anyway. Father Ken asks, "Helen? Is that you? Is everything okay?" Helen says she's back in catechism class and they're covering Confession: "So I thought I'd do a field trip." I'll bet the Church loves spiritual tourists. Father Ken thinks it's wonderful, and then gets back to business: "So, how long's it been?" Helen muses: "I'm not sure of the exact date, but Ford had just pardoned Nixon, so I felt inspired." Going to confession isn't the impulse that that event inspired in me, but then, I wasn't Catholic, either. Let's just say I was feeling a little more Travis Bickle and a little less Thomas Merton. And yeah, I was nine you want to make something of it? Even then I knew it was bullshit. Father Ken chuckles and welcomes her back: "Let's skip the Reagan and the Clinton years and we'll start with something more recent." Could we skip the Bush years, too? All of them? Please? Helen confesses that she sometimes naps through planning period at school. Heavens, she'll be doing Hail Marys until the cows come home. Father Ken is sure God understands: "What else?" Helen: "And sometimes I give students As when they only deserve Bs." Helen, you are Evil Incarnate. I can't believe Lucyfer thought she could take you on. Oh, and I can't wait to see Adam's next grade. And Bonnie's. Bye-bye, art school. She says breezily, "That's about it thanks!" Father Ken says, "Helen " Helen wants special treatment: "Okay, but can we do this somewhere else? I feel like I'm in The Exorcist." Nice.