Paul Simon wrote a song once, about 50 ways to leave your lover.
He gives very matter-of-fact pieces of advice, with no hoopla or overly complicated conversations.
(“Slip out the back, Jack; make a new plan, Stan; drop off the key, Lee; get yourself free”).
However, Paul Simon doesn’t mention the seldom-known method Matt used to break up with my friend Jennifer: USE A PRIEST.
Maybe Paul Simon couldn’t get ‘priest’ to rhyme with anything good.
(All I can think of is ‘yeast’.)
Ryan was 26 years old, super funny and Jennifer fell for him. They had known each other for two years, but decided to take it romantic two months before The Holy Spirit intervened.
It seemed like a good idea at the time (but it never is) to have Ryan move in for financial reasons.
He was paying too much at his apartment and Jennifer hated her job and they talked about perfect it would be if he moved in with her and paid rent and bills so she could quit her job.
Her total rent and bills was less than what he was paying).
They got along great, after all, and she said he was the most passionate person she’s ever met. She could never get tired of kissing him.
She wouldn’t mind marrying him.
There was one thing that they didn’t have in common, though: Religion.
Ryan was a devout Christian, and routinely played video games with the priest’s son.
Jennifer hadn’t visited a house of worship in a long time.
One Sunday, Ryan invited Jennifer to church for the first time, the same time they were weighing the pros and cons of him moving in.
Jennifer said Ryan was insistent that she go with him to church that day and he told her she was going to meet some “REAL Christians.”
She was nervous; this was North Carolina after all. They named an airport after Billy freaking Graham.
When she walked into church that day, there were 10 people total in the pews.
Jennifer said she and Ryan were the only ones under the age of 70.
She nervously accepted a flyer with horrible political views when she walked in. The priest’s son was the keyboard player in the band and he was staring at her.
Jennifer recalls, “I was waiting for them to break out the snakes.”
Jennifer isn’t one to be a conspiracy theorist or anything, but she said the minute the priest began the sermon, she knew it was directed at her and Ryan.
Perhaps because the other 70-year-olds don’t need to hear the message of “living in sin.”
Jennifer said the priest began with, “Unholy doesn’t mean evil…it just means common. And it’s common these days for young people to live together without being married.”
This was all very convenient, Jennifer thought. The priest was seemingly looking straight at her.
She looked at Ryan, who’s face was looking straight ahead.
“And the Bible says you shall not fornicate, lest it be with your wife,” the priest added.
Jennifer said the 70-year-olds got uncomfortable. After an hour and three horrible songs later, Jennifer questioned Ryan on the way home from the church.
“DID YOU TELL THE PRIEST THAT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT MOVING IN TOGETHER?” she asked. Ryan said no.
“It seems pretty coincidental that he decided to have an entire sermon about ‘living in sin,’ the one day you invite me,” Jennifer pointed out.
Later that day, Ryan did say that he mentioned something about it to the priest’s son, when they were
being dorks playing video games.
(As a raised Catholic, I don’t understand how priests are allowed to have kids, but I’ll Wikipedia it later.)
“YOU TOLD HIS SON? HE TOLD HIS DAD!” Jennifer said. “THAT’S WHY I HAD TO SIT THROUGH THAT HORRIBLE SERMON!”
Ryan swore that he asked the priest’s son directly after mass if he told his dad anything, and the son said no.
Jennifer said that was bullshit, the son spilled the beans, but Ryan insisted that “because they are such upstanding Christians, there is no way he would lie about it.”
Jennifer rolled her eyes and was going to argue with Ryan about it, when she realized it didn’t matter.
Ryan was already taking the priest’s message to heart.
He said that it MUST have been God sending them a message.
Ryan said that it was wrong for them to be together and live together and have “lust in their hearts.”
(F.Y.I., they had already, uh, done it.)
Ryan left with an empowering sense of Holiness that day. He had been touched by God, after all, via the tiny North Carolina church.
It didn’t stick, though.
Once Sunday was over, Ryan got back in touch with Jennifer, which only resulted in fights and angry text messages over the next several weeks until their relationship was deader than the animals left behind when Noah’s ark took off.
So much for love thy neighbor.