Saturday, May 01, 2010
Because nothing says "I'm sorry" like not saying "I'm sorry."
The maidens and matrons of Sir John A. MacDonald Lane were aflutter with preparations for the long-anticipated Sex Offender Block Party. It was an annual weekend fair in which the new sex offenders living in their community were honored guests.
Father Fister would take up his usual duties as master of ceremonies.
The newly released sex offenders in the neighborhood were always shy about coming out -- thinking the block party was some kind of ploy to learn their identities. After all, the neighborhood had been informed sex offenders were moving in, but never told exactly who those new residents were.
Father Fister understood the wary nature of sex offenders. Weren't they just ordinary human beings, filled with love, who had funneled that love in the wrong direction? Of course they were!
So, Father Fister -- who was on grand terms with sex offenders who'd received their pardons and had their pasts scrubbed and their names redacted from the Sex Offender Registry -- had them pay social calls to the new 'uns.
Among the new sex offenders in the neighborhood was Gerald Gamut, who'd just served three months of a six year prison sentence for molesting a dozen ten year old boys who'd played on the baseball team he'd coached. He was wary of the block party, but the neighborhood ambassador who came to see him spoke his language, commisserated about how difficult it was not to take children up on their coquettish gambits.
"We're only human," the neighborhood ambassador said.
"Is this a trick?" Gerald asked.
"Of course not. What've you got to lose? You'll have some barbecue, maybe play a few games at the booths. Since you're new, you can be one of our pie contest judges. And you'll go home with a jar of homemade jam, courtesy of Mrs. Trubideau. She always insists!"
"But I can't go if there are any children there."
"One of the stipulations of my parole says I can't go within a thousand meters of kids."
"Oh, that old saw!" the neighborhood ambassador laughed. "Don't worry about that. The people in this neighborhood believe you get more flies with honey, than with vinegar. They believe in making friends. Most of all, they believe in forgiveness."
"Of course. You see, this is a Liberal community. We understand that people make mistakes, but we don't believe that they should pay for those mistakes for the rest of their lives."
"Heck no! I know how it is. How the prudish, unenlightened in this country don't believe that adults can have deep, meaningful, loving relationships with children. The knee-jerk, law-and-order crowd believe children are stupid and incapable of making decisions for themselves. But we both know that children are much wiser than some people are willing to accept. Am I right?"
"I guess," Gerald said.
"Of course, I am! But this community is different. They understand. Which is really amazing to me because to a person, none of them has ever been a victim of crime. So, it just shows how enlightened and open they are. They understand."
"So . . ." Gerald said, drawing the word out. "Are you saying it's OK to . . ."
"No," the neighborhood ambassador said immediately, knowing exactly what Gerald was talking about. "Just remember one thing -- don't shit where you eat."
* * *
Everyone was at the Sex Offender Block Party.
The local Liberal MP was making the rounds, having his photograph taken with his constituents. Father Fister presided over the three-legged race -- after personally ensuring that none of the boys had their legs tied together too tightly. There were a lot of young athletes in the neighborhood and nothing would be worse than one of the hockey or baseball stars having the circulation cut off in one of their legs in a silly race.
After a long, silent debate with himself, Gerald eventually walked over to the block party. It didn't make any sense to him. His life had been filled with his subterranean, socially unacceptable impulses and all of the attendant vilification. He wasn't ready for acceptance. There had to be a catch.
The block party was in full swing when he arrived. There was a pie eating contest and dunking tanks. In one of the tents, locally grown vegetables were being judged for their color, girth and weight. A particularly robust zuccini was all the rage.
Following the three-legged race, ever-energetic Father Fister was out there playing touch football with the boys.
"Where does that man get his energy?" some of the mothers said, smiling, to one another.
"His faith," one of them said after a moment.
Although no one wore name tags, Gerald spotted a few guys whom he was sure were newly released sex offenders: the expressions on their faces looked the way he felt -- uncomfortable, wondering if this was actually a trap.
The neighborhood ambassador who'd invited Gerald came up. "Hey man! I'm so glad you came! Let me introduce you around."
Within minutes, Gerald was seated at a long fold-out table judging cherry pies.
"Now, is your last name pronounced 'Ga-moo'?" asked Mrs. Gray, the matron in charge of the pie competition.
"Uh, just Gamut," Gerald said.
"It sound aboriginal," Mrs. Gray said. "Are you aboriginal?"
After the cherry pie competition, Gerald was taken over to the dunking tanks where he hit a bull's eye with his first throw, dunking little Jimmy Turner, star forward on the Peewee hockey team.
Father Fister led the community in grace when they sat down to eat their barbecue. All the kids vied to hold one of his hands -- the place of honor during the block party grace. Father Fister -- ever diplomatic -- chose a ten year old girl and a ten year old boy. Father liked round numbers and good children.
* * *
The ribs, hamburgers and potato salad were delicious. Gerald couldn't remember the last time he'd eaten so well.
After dinner, as the men prepared for that night's Sex Offenders' Fireworks Display, Father Fister approached Gerald and put a hand on his shoulder.
"Enjoy your day?" the priest asked.
"Uh, yes father."
Father Fister led Gerald away from the group; kept his hand on Gerald's shoulder. "I'm glad you had fun. And I hope you'll feel at home here. You see, this community is different than most. We embrace our sex offenders."
Gerald stiffened at the mention of those words.
Father Fister chuckled and patted Gerald's shoulder. "Of course, of course. 'Former' sex offenders, is what I meant to say. You're a good boy Gerald and I'm sure it's been explained -- you're very welcome here. Just remember one thing."
"Don't shit where you eat."
"Of course, I know -- I wouldn't --" Gerald stammered.
Father Fister raised his hand, silencing him. "Indeed, don't shit where you eat. But nobody objects to a little fart, now and then."
The priest winked, and then walked away toward a group of children who were throwing a DayGlo Frisbee amongst themselves.
Posted by Whetam Gnauckweirst at 4:13 PM