Thursday, December 9 2021

sexual purity, a salmon genius, and pooping at best buy

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Thursday. This quiet, no-school week is brought to you by PCR COVID testing, and judging by how long its taking to get Rodney's results back, probably a bit of a backlog at the testing facility. It feels weird to get such a long break from the school routine this early in the month of December, but we're doing our best to take it in stride.

"He's in kindergarten," shrugged Marissa. "What's he missing, another letter?"

We poke fun, but throughout all of this, we're grateful that our kids are still so young. With both of us working at home, last minute changes to the school schedule aren't really a big deal for us. But I'm thinking about those that are a little further a long in school - gradeschoolers, high schoolers, and college kids - the people that might be missing more than just gym class, yoga, and another letter.

So no results in - that means another day off. Another day of sleeping in, and another quiet morning by myself in the dining room. I just learned that I have a day off work tomorrow, too. It's the final recharge Friday of the year - perfect timing to pull together my own backlog of Christmas presents.

Got your coffee? I do. That's all we need, let's get into it, shall we?

Sip. While getting ready for the day this morning, my thoughts circled the term "purity culture". Lazily flicking through my Twitter feed, I came across a musing thread by Zach Wagner. He's studying theology in Oxford, currently working on a book about toxic masculinity and purity culture in the Christian church. We were also good friends, practically growing up together in the church. I follow his work on the subject with great interest, because I too grew up in a weird time where the mainstream Christian church was obsessed with sex, yet too embarrassed to talk about it candidly.

To dispense wisdom, our pastors relied just a little too much on analogies. Don't put the cart before the horse. Chewing gum is only fresh coming out of the wrapper, but it loses its flavor when you use it. See this flower? Once all the petals fall off, there's no putting them back. See this piece of tape? It gets a lot less sticky each time it changes hands.

We the audience were spellbound by these vivid analogies, and I could see how our suspense could be mistaken for an effective connection. But the problem with analogies is that they leave some things unsaid, and our smooth teen brains could easily get mixed up. What about the teen guy in the thick, sweaty throws of puberty? What is he going to infer from the picture of a stringy, limp piece of tape that picked up unsightly fuzzy hair from the carpet? What about someone who had a promiscuous past before finding God? How does the flavor of their gum compare to someone who grew up in the church? What about the girl who was pressured into going too far with a pushy boyfriend? Is it her fault that she lost her flower petals?

To be clear, I hold no resentment against specific people over this subject. I'm not trying to put any of my former pastors or teachers on blast for personally mishandling this. These were wise, passionate, positive role models in my life, and my appreciation for their work grows into my own adulthood. I just think they were given a bad tool set to work with, and the church deserves some collective criticism for our lack of innovation on the subject of sexuality.

So check out Zachary Wagner, and keep an eye out for the book. When I first heard all these confusing, euphamistic metaphors about sexual purity, in all likelihood he was in the same room as me. He's a smart dude, and I'm looking forward to hearing what he has to say.

On a brighter note, it's Thursday. Your week is almost over. But how did your Wednesday go?

I had a busy work day, but I ended on a high note playing some video games with Rodney. We finally buttoned up the fourth and final movie in the LEGO Jurassic Park game. The game ushered our LEGO characters into an after-game paradise where we're free to wander around every map with every possible dinosaur at our leisure.

We left for ice skating practice, and while we were gone, Marissa pulled together a delicious dinner of seared salmon, salad, and rice. Her tenacity with cooking the perfect piece of salmon is intriguing because when we first met, she didn't know how to cook meat. Meanwhile, I only knew how to cook meat. We were a match made in heaven.

Now, almost a decade later, she could probably teach a master class on cooking salmon. To think all that time she spent in college making meatless pasta and ratatouille for herself, she was a secret salmon genius. I guess that's the cool part about cooking - everyone has their own unique mental picture of the perfect plate of food, but we learn the same precise mechanics to turn make it into a reality.


We ended the day with an evening trip to Best Buy. Marissa's Chromebook sadly bit the dust last week. With Miles tottling behind us holding his big brother's hand, we waltzed around the laptops for sale.

A blue shirted employee crouched beside the Samsung tablet display case. A few feet away at eye level, Miles' face wrinkled with strain, making a distinct rumble sound. The smell of fresh defecation wafted over us.

"Sorry, about that," Marissa laughed.

"I have to poop," announced Rodney, as if the smell of poop reminded him of something he forgot to do. "I have to poop so bad."

Rodney and I wandered over to the bathroom. He grabbed a stall in the back corner and got to work by himself. As I leaned against the bathroom wall, Rodney passed the time telling jokes.

His voice echoed on the metallic walls. "Why did the chicken cross the road?" he laughed. "To go poop."

The door swung open, and an employee crossed in front of me to use a urinal. Rodney stopped mid joke to ask, "Hey, who is that? Hello? My name Rodney... I'm five."

Marissa reminded me that, mysteriously, Best Buy seems to make our kids poop. Years ago when Rodney was still in diapers, he had an epic blowout near the plasma TVs. Marissa rushed him into the bathroom, using an entire roll of their toilet paper to get him cleaned up. She remembers hurrying out of the store, cradling a smelly, bottomless Rodney in her arms as she snuck out to the car.

That's what I got today. Thanks for stopping by, friends, have a good Thursday.