As I was unlocking my bike from a rack downtown today, a man approached me, a clean-shaven man with a maturing face that I vaguely recognized. A youth sporting a camera on his shoulder advanced on his right and a girl (script writer?) brought up the rear.
“Excuse me,” said the man (I know where I’ve seen him, I thought; he’s a pastor) “But we’re doing a documentary on Easter. Do you mind if we ask you a few questions?”
I knew what was coming. It would not be painful. But my face contorted. “Um, sure,” I said, tipping my chin to survey him from underneath my eyebrows.
“Do you know what the word ‘holiday’ means?” he asked me, as the camera guy started rolling.
“Yeah,” I said “that would be ‘holy day.'” Tempted to make up an etymology; didn’t.
“Yes,” he said “So what’s your favorite holiday?”
I don’t actually know what my favorite holiday is. “Christmas and Easter,” I said glibly.
“Why is that?”
“You know, Jesus.” I learned how to do this in Sunday school.
“And who is Jesus?”
“The son of God. Or God incarnate.”
“Ok,” said the pastor “thanks.” He and crew exited to the left.
I had a similar conversation with someone yesterday, only it was phrased differently. The guy asked: “You don’t actually believe all that shit, do you?” And I replied at much greater length and in much greater earnest. I figured he, as a friend, had probably purer motives than the pastor and actually wanted to be answered.