May 22, 2009.
It has been that kind of a week - a long week designed to acclimate us to the ways of our country's conniving youth and to educate us about the various types of lawsuits that we would find ourselves tangled up in if we made any physical contact with the kids whatsoever. It wasn't a completely lost cause because they gave us complimentary certification in CPR and First-Aid by the American Red Cross. My group was led by a twenty-seven year old. Let me add on to that a little: a twenty-seven year old wearing a purity ring.
She was bright, cheerful, and know all of the dialog in the accompanying video by heart. She talked extensively about her other job working for Christian Mission Trips, a group that traveled to different countries and tried to convert their people to the correct brand of Christianity. She spent a good chunk of our training trying to recruit us for the organization, talking about the many methods used to lead foreign sinners to Christ and often ending her jovial anecdotes in, "Well, it just goes to show you that it takes all kinds of people to lead the world to Jesus!
Whenever I am in the presence of someone who promotes good Christian values so fervently, I can't help but feel that they are using their liberal-dar, a keen spider-like sense that instantly scans every person in the room and singles out the ones who are emitting the sinful energy left over from activities like watching films from Canada or bathing with Dr. Bronner's. I occasionally do both.
I noticed the purity ring immediately. I always do a quick scan over a new person to see if I can identify any telling details. Do they wear baseball caps indoors? Are they still wearing those tacky white seashell-hemp necklaces? If so, why? How tan are they? Is it natural? If not, are they the sort of person who can justify wreaking of tanning chemicals if it means they get to wear that orange, bronzy glow? They may be accurate often enough, but the occasional ambiguity can be maddening.
Luckily, purity rings are pretty cut and dry. They are easy to spot because, more often than not, it is the only ring that the owner will wear. They will be engraved with scripture, crosses, or will simply be engraved with the word 'Purity.'
That last ring is manufactured by a a fundamentalist organization called 'The Silver Ring Thing' who, until recently, received federal funding to support their demonstrations and 'rock concerts' where they pimp out abstinence and charge twenty-five bucks a pop for a ring. I don't know what their agenda is, because most of the people I knew back in high school that wore the purity rings were having sex with someone. And if they weren't having sex with someone, then they were having sex with something. My childhood was spent thirty minutes - forty if you actually obeyed the speeding limit - from the nearest city. Over half of my high school lived on or worked on a farm. You would be surprised to learn the alternatives people will turn to because, since they were very little, their church ingrained into their minds that masturbatory actions would get them nothing but a one-way ticket to hell. In short, I know lots of stories.
I wondered if the fact that she wore the ring on her middle finger meant that she was one of these 'born again virgins' that I keep hearing about. Apparently if you fall from grace and suddenly find that your vagina has had a penis in it, you can pray very hard and God will eventually relent and somehow let you know that it is acceptable believe that you are actually a virgin again. I don't get it. The baby Jesus may restore your delusional purity, but he isn't going to materialize in your bedroom at the stroke of midnight and give you a complimentary vaginal rejuvenation surgery.
The more I toyed around with this idea, the more I liked it. Perhaps before becoming a Christian Mission Trip coordinator she was brazen and wild. Maybe she traveled with a rock show tour, so desperate for scandalous Facebook photos and cheap alcohol that she chose to be a groupie for the second stage bands. Maybe she had been one of those girls high school that wore black fairy wings to class and owned that book called So You Want to be a Teen Witch?
No matter which scenario I had her live out in my mind, it always ended with a near death experience involving a bottle of Xanex, three glasses of red wine, and a multi-racial and/or multi-gendered foursome. She would wake up on a stranger's front lawn with something foreign in her asshole, maybe a twig or lawn gnome, and decide to replace her reckless ways with Jesus Christ and dedicate her life to turning downtrodden foreigners onto God while making sure that all employees knew how to administer gauze bandages and dislodge crucifixes that might have gotten lodged in someone's throat during a routine exorcism.
I thought about asking her why she wore the ring on her middle finger, but I refrained. I was scared that she would say something predictable and less satisfying like, "Well, it's on my middle finger because I felt like it," or "Because it didn't fit any of my other fingers."
At the end of the day, I was handed my CPR/First Aid certification card by the eternal virgin certifications officer and left the building still wondering if I was a worthless individual for being so easily distracted by a detail that had nothing to do with her ability to save lives.
It takes all kinds, I suppose.