Bonus Story: Writing Real Life Person Slash about the Pope Day

It is January 15.

I do not write real life person slash about the Pope. Every year when January 15th comes around I think about it. I laugh, because it is such a silly thing. I think about it. But I do not do it.

I would be ashamed.

Fernando told me the story of "write real life person slash about the Pope day" once, on a summer weekend, when we were sitting outside and admiring the bouganvillea that grew in his white lattice.

"It is because the Pope is afraid that people will look at him sexually," Fernando said. "That is why he is so angry at gay men."

"Is that why?" I asked.

"Why else?" said Fernando, with a little shrug. "So there is January 15th. The day that is every year when people write real life person slash about the Pope. So that he understands that he does not control how people look at him, but only how he shows himself. Then he will be less angry at gay men and more angry at the Internet."

Fernando was a very chaste man. He did not like gutter jokes. He did not like to talk about sex. But every year on January 15th he would write real life person slash about Pope Benedict XVI.

One year, he wrote slash between the Pope and Captain Kirk. I asked him, "But where is Spock?"

He laughed.

"Spock does not interfere between a Captain and his Pope," Fernando said.

Another year it was the Pope and Harry Potter. Harry was the "seme", the strong one, and Pope Benedict XVI was the "uke."

In this story, the Pope told Mr. Potter that the Vatican did not think him Satanist. "It is only the fringe groups that say that," said the Pope.

"I understand," said Mr. Potter.

It was simple. It was clean.

Those were the kinds of stories that Fernando would write.

"You do not have to read them," he would say.

But I did.

This year, I have promised myself that I will write real life person slash about the Pope. I will not write much. It will be simple. The Pope becomes a catgirl. Or the Pope is visited by the ghost of Pope Formosus and they have sex.

But I find it very difficult.

Each time I sit down to write real life person slash about the Pope I discover that I have no words. They drain out of me like there are holes in my feet. I sit there empty.

I cry, sometimes.

I sleep, in short bursts.

It is the morning of January 16 before I give up. I go outside. I sit with a cup of hot tea and I look out at the lawn.

There are birds at the bird feeder.

There are rhododendrons near the wall.

The sun is rising.

"I am sorry, Fernando."

And I can feel the touch on my hair and my shoulder. It is the wind but it is like he is near me.

And there is one of those moments, because he is with me. One of those moments that I find now and again, but too rarely, when suddenly everything in the world is beautiful.

I can see that the birds are writing real life person slash about the Pope with the beating of their wings.

And the rhododendrons are writing real life person slash about the Pope as they sip gently of the morning light.

And the sun; and the world; and everything that is everywhere touched by the things that are numinous—-

It is all writing real life person slash about the Pope.

And although it is too late, although it is the 16th and everyone will mock me and call me not a celebrant but a sick puppy who likes Pope sex, I go to my keyboard.

I type, "My friend Fernando was a good man. He was a loving man, a good man, a strong man. He was not disordered even though he was gay.

"Pope Benedict XVI could see this.

"Even across the crowded room full of pilgrims he could see this.

"And suddenly there was a strange warmth that spread through Pope Benedict XVI, a warmth that was like the touch of God."

It is the beginning of my real life person slash about the Pope.

Categories: Vanished From Imago