Son of a Preacher Man

There’s no good picture for Son of a Preacher Man. So pretend I’m in that dome. Being sonly.

Fun news! My professor pulled out of my Nonfiction class yesterday, so my 500 word autobiography that I completed no longer has a class eager to workshop it. The good news for you is that I’m going to share it with you anyway. Love it, hate it. I just want someone to read it after the time I put in. PK mentioned in this story, if by some freak chance you read this, it’s nothing personal. You were lovely. We just weren’t meant to be.   🙂

Now, without further ado:

MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY (ish…)

It’s odd how out of all the different identities I have to pick from, Priest’s son is always the crowd favorite. The Catholics in particular love it, until I remind them that my family is Greek Orthodox and thus I’m not a bastard child, deeply embroiled in a parish scandal. I personally find it more interesting that I speak three languages (two and a half, if you take off points for how poor my Spanish is) and that I can whip up a mean batch of buttermilk pancakes from scratch – two things that were rare feats in the small Indiana town in which I grew up. Neither is likely to warrant years of therapy, though; so from a psychoanalytical viewpoint, the Catholics might be on to something.

The problem with being the son of a preacher man is that, although it does come with its own theme song, it’s not a legally-protected identity. Thus people feel free to poke around and ask questions that they would feel stupid asking the child of a Chinese person, or a cripple. “Do you want to grow up to be a priest?” is a common one. I always play the part, smile, and politely say it isn’t the path God chose for me. My inner prodigal would prefer to answer with an expletive and a swift kick to the ass. “No, I think I’ll grow up to be a drunk, maybe have my baby mommas help sell dirty needles out of the trunk of my car. That’s more my speed.” Stupid questions deserve equally as stupid answers. I’m also tempted to stick with the answer I’d given as a four-year-old, “I want to be an elephant when I grow up!” Dumbo the Second, to be exact.

Perhaps what’s most offensive is the thought process behind the question. The concept of free will is not a difficult one: eat the apple, don’t eat the apple. Whatever. Your choice. The real underlying sentiment behind this question and many interactions I have with those who know my dad is a priest, is that because 23 of my chromosomes swam their way out of a man who dedicated his life to the church, I was somehow born in a moral autopilot. Any piety or positive life decisions were a direct result of my dad’s career, not any personal convictions (or just plain common sense) I may have. It’s easy to see why so many preachers’ kids are either saints or whores. People don’t leave us much room for a middle ground.

I’ve dated a few other PKs, as we like to call ourselves. The most recent was some variety of Pentecostal/Nondenominational hybrid. The first two times we met up, our fathers never entered the conversation. Sure, Our Father did, but that was only because she saw the icons on the wall of my apartment. She was curious, so we swapped the Cliffnotes versions of our respective denominations, then quickly returned to talking about horror films. Two weeks in, we were wandering the city aimlessly one night when the padres finally came up. We both admitted that it’s not the best conversation starter and shared stories of hosting Easter dinners, church camp, and – of course – emotional scarring. It was when she got into the rest of her family that I began to worry.

“Yeah, I think that people just put too much emphasis on sex,” she said.

“Totally. I mean, it’s important in a healthy relationship, but there’s a lot more that you need to keep one going.”

“Exactly. My cousin, he was dating this girl for over a year before they got married, and they didn’t kiss until their wedding day. That’s real love.”

Needless to say, that was the last time I saw her. As a PK, I knew her convictions were her own, not the result of a mass Kool-Aide incident. Speaking in tongues is one thing, but not using yours is another.

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