It happened one day in San Francisco, while I was on a jury in city court. At noon the judge called a recess for lunch. In a few minutes two other jurors, both of them men and one of them wearing the garb of a Catholic priest, and I were seated at a table in a small room with the sandwiches and beverages we had purchased.
The man across the table from me looked about 50 and was wearing a coat and tie. To my left, the priest looked about thirty-five. I was nearing 50 and, retired, …well, I don’t remember what I was wearing.
We spoke several words and started introducing ourselves. Coat-And-Tie Man added to his name that he was an Episcopalian. Priest Man of course added that he was a Catholic priest.
Not about to let this opportunity go by, I added to my name that I had once been a Catholic.
Priest Man right away looked at me and confidently said something that sounded like “Your life is absurd”.
What splendid luck! I had a day or two earlier found in my Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary a definition for the word “absurd”. It included the word “meaningless”.
I looked at Priest Man and replied, “I see it as my responsibility to give meaning to my life.”
The word “confused” does not adequately describe the look on Priest Man’s face.
I like “flummoxed”, which in my thesaurus has “baffled”, “confounded”, “perplexed”, and “stymied”.
I was on Cloud Nine. Or Cloud Ninety. After twenty-plus years of intellectual bullying by Catholic priests, I had silenced one.
The pleasure I felt was less than that of an orgasm, mind you, but it was very good.