I’m ready to go to Walmart because I’ve gotten paid and needed to renew my phone plan. I wanted to go there because I had forgotten which was cheaper: buying a card, or calling. Because of Tennessean taxes, calling is indeed cheaper (by two dollars) and hopefully I’ll remember, or read this. Or remember to read this.
At the bus stop, there is a lady, who says hello and starts a conversation. She’s very pretty, black, has a jug of water for health and looks to be about my age.
I surmise she was one of the friendly missed treasures from my campus. Although I plan to transfer, I still wanted to talk to people I could meet with this last week of school coming up. Verily, it was rare to get anyone to talk anywhere at this school (or maybe that’s the world now, I don’t know. It’s all very disappointing).
Interested, I began to scan over her being and I espy a Bible, bookmarked, in her purse.
There’s very few reasons one would talk to a stranger this day and age. It’s easier to guess between those of the opposite sex, or two of the same sex and one of them is a bit more obvious or flamboyant (am I too strong now?). Even though I could pass as obvious, what with kids mistaking me for a guy at our town festival, I didn’t think I was obvious enough for a lady like her.
But now all was clear and I waited for the starting blow. I had prepared myself beforehand by promising, swearing to myself that I will simply say I’m atheist and deal with the aftermath (Why must I be conflicted about this? For a lot of so-called ‘believing in nothing’, am I so fearful of the Christian calumny that I can’t admit what I’m comfortable with? How long will this last?)
The bus comes and she sits facing the middle and I go way in the back to face the front, for I get terribly carsick otherwise. We were far enough away that I thought our conversation was cut short- all the better for me!
That wasn’t so. We continue with our idle chitchat and she slowly digs in. I tell her about my family, at her request. And I tell her about my future plans, at her request. I even tell her what I study and wish to do with my education, at her request. Her tone of voice and cocked head makes it plainer and plainer that she intends something bigger than all of this, excuse my phrasing, and I’m getting tired of the slow panning.
I then recognize the man next to me. He’s a half-black half-Korean man who was about to join the army the last I seen him. I ask him about that, cutting off my conversation with the lady. He answers in an unintelligible tirade, but I did manage to piece out that he, in fact, could not join the army. He apologizes for his rant and cursing, saying he is a Christian (exact words) and should act like it. He also says that he will instead go to Florida and work in his father’s club.
That’s when the lady intervenes and asks him how will he stay out of trouble.
“Stay out of trouble?” he answers clearly. And he gives the much better looking lady a once-over, and double-takes on the Bible. The deflation is nearly audible. They proceed a back-and-forth over how can you drink and dance and be merry and Christian, while the fellow says he can drink and dance and be merry and be Christian and will judge no one who does the same. They talk about the Bible and what it says and he talks about how even Jesus drunk wine and wine is alcohol and she attempted to tell him what the true meaning of wine is, something about the blood of Jesus and all that.
I hope they demolish each other. The guy’s friend, another lady on the other side of our row, looks out the window after saying a few things (and was on the guy’s side- specifically, “No one should judge”). She gives up and gets off the bus later.
And the argument continues and we’re nearer Walmart and I thought I would be home free.
The guy tries to get me on his side, asking me to ‘explain’ his words to her, unknowing that I cannot understand his mumbling any better than a snail.
I attempt to tell him to talk louder because I can’t understand him either but I’m not altogether confident that wouldn’t sound bad. Eventually, he gets frustrated with us both and goes all the way to the front of the bus.
No, don’t leave me with her!!!
“Are you born-again?”
“No, I’m an atheist.”
It comes out so much more clearly than I thought it would, and I relax. There wasn’t much she could say on the bus that would change my mind anyway, and she didn’t peg me at all as a Sophisticated Theologian (TM Jerry Coyne of Why Evolution is True) that would do some fancy wordwork. Then I thought, perhaps I’m being too harsh. I should give her a chance, to just speak and not try to end the conversation before it begins.
She then becomes that stereotypical Christian, breathing all those banal platitudes which perhaps at one time were rhetorical masterpieces but are now as titillating as a chewed bone.
I did say some things that were surprising to her, for she would look confused for just a moment, and so I would wait for her to come up with a reply.
For example, I tell her that no god has given me reason to believe in it. I’ve been trying to be careful of signaling out the Christian god. That makes believers think they have a chance, and that much more annoying. When you’re more general, and truthful, it pretty much makes them think how far back they need to go.
Oh, wait, lemme tell ya how she asked the question to this answer: “Why are you atheist?”
That is the weirdest and, honestly, most terrible question to ask. Because, in her slow, higher-pitched, condescending speech, she already has an answer for her own question formed in her head. To which she has the platitudes to counter with.
There are few reasons to be atheist. Don’t like or care for religion, organized or otherwise, and therefore find little reason to practice or there’s no evidence. Never is it hatred of some god or another because that would imply that that god or another exists, which they don’t. If you’re ‘atheist’ and hate god personally, you’re going to have to reexamine the definition.
Wanna hear some banal reiterations?
“Just because you don’t believe in Jesus, Jesus believes in you.”
“Do you believe in the wind”-“Yes.”-“Why?”-“I can feel it.”-“You can…You can feel it?”-“Yea…”
“I have a personal relationship with God.” (x100)
“I’ve personally heard God tell me (etc.).” (xliterally4)
“You’re going to go to hell.” (xliterally3, earning a total of three thinned lips)
She told me towards the end that there were some lines in Romans that described me perfectly, written hundreds of years before I existed. I told her that there have been billions of unbelievers like me, including up to and before the time Romans was written. I’m certain that there is something that ‘describes me perfectly’.
Then I told her to not bother, because I don’t hold the Bible to the same standards as she did, and she offered it once more before saying that, if I was curious, I should look, and I’ll probably be pleasantly surprised.
I doubt it.
But that’s not the end folks.
She said that I seem like a pleasant, cheerful, happy girl (I was), and she had the gall to tell me, “But that’s because you think you will live a long life, but truly this is short and you’ll go on to live a life of eternal damnation”. And she had that smile that’s like, “Sorry, you’re SOL until you love Jesus and speak about him on buses!”
And she said it was nice talking to me and that she hopes I would think about what she said (this probably wasn’t what she had in mind). So I put on my headphones (didn’t turn them on though) and she looks forward for the rest of the ride. I hope she doesn’t start talking to me again. Her faithfully confident but actually arrogant attitude had worn my patience into slices of paper.
When the bus arrived at Wallyworld, I waved an awkward good-bye (I would meet her twice later on that day in the strip mall), I came across trucks and vans with “I am Christian County” on the license plate and pictures of Jesus everywhere. Also, the song “Silent Night” by The Temptations were playing on my iPod, and had been playing when I first talked to her at the bus stop.
I began to think of supernatural implications. What if this was god now telling me to think. Telling me to renew my cerebration on Jesus and Christianity, what if I’m all wrong?
What if there is an atheist Jewish man in Jeruselum, how does he feel? An atheist woman in Turkey? Wouldn’t they all feel the same? Still, the thoughts lingered.
I eventually return to my dorm and am ready to reveal to a flatmate that her might be boyfriend may be cheating on her big time. I had been waiting because I was nervous *blush*. I gave this boyfriend the benefit of the doubt because I knew he saw himself as a Christian of the straight-and-narrow type, who was weary-ish of gays and thought to have a lot of kids eventually, who had Bible studies (with females) and liked to talk about the Bible and biblical goals (with females).
Which seemed a bit iffy before, but now makes complete sense. I told this flatmate’s best friend and asked beforehand whether or not the two were dating. This best friend said, “That’s none of my business.”
Let me clarify that they (my flatmates, who are also roommates who are also best friends) aren’t exactly cool with me for some odd reason. They have bipolar disorder and they aren’t super hopeful/super pessimistic bipolar like me. They are like ‘I love me and my own’/I hate the whole world bipolar. So when they are in good moods, they tolerate me barely and love each other, and bad moods make them hate me. Yesterday, we ran out of toilet paper, and I heard them outside my window, “Let’s keep the toilet paper and paper towels in our room.” Also, whenever they see me with my door open and they finally deign to reveal their room to me, they close the door or pretend not to see me.
All that to point out that there is NO WAY that whether or not that lady (BFF1) is still dating her boyfriend is not any of her best friend’s (BFF2) business. Y’all ain’t talkin’ ’bout pies over there. Or majors (one is art, the other is nursing). Maybe games, but not really.
Anyway, I tell her (BFF2) that her best friend (BFF1) whose business is not hers might have a boyfriend who is cheating on her. That he solicited the sex of another resident (exact words, “I would like to pleasure you orally”) even to the point of doing it on the sly (exact words, “Do you have a boyfriend? Are you really that faithful to him?”). Of course, this unknown lady refused but decided to tell me because she thought it was amusing to me. And it was, sort of.
BFF1 actually does tell BFF2 and BFF2 asks for more clarification because that ex-boyfriend WAS STILL TRYING TO GET BACK WITH HER.
Did I mention he carries a Bible around?
BFF2 was grateful for the info. They now lock the door to the dorm, because he’s used to just walking in.
I think she has told him everything in a discreet manner, but he’s sending her messages to get her to come back to him (WTF?!). Or talk to him in person or (I heard through the door) none of it was a big deal.
In any case, all that drag with Christianity went into the winds. Whatever god(s) that may be trying to get my attention must not be Christian, and simply has my humor for the ironies of the world.