Wednesday, February 23, 2011


"I think this should spark a TED COLUMN."

That was the message my bud Traveling Sue the Celebrity Spotter sent to me, along with a link to a recent New York Times editorial by Maureen Dowd on the recent creation of "Confession: A Roman Catholic App." For those who haven't seen it, it's an iPhone app offering lapsed Catholics the ability to confess their sins to a virtual priest.

Okay, I'm up for a challenge. I grabbed a non-iPhone and called up the Corbster. "I need you to download something onto your iPhone for me."

Corb sighed dramatically. "Porn, AGAIN?"

"No, no, no. Quite the opposite, actually. It's a virtual confessional. It's for naughty Catholics. Naughty, naughty Catholics."

On the other end of the phone, silence. Then: "Why in the world would I want to download something like THAT onto my iPhone?"

"Oh, Corb, just do it."

A few minutes passed. "I'm not going to."

Man, he's such a pain in the ass. "Why not?"

"It costs money. They charge you $1.99 for the app."

What? "That can't be right. They actually charge you money to download a virtual priest?"


I thought for a moment. "Is it free if you let a priest molest your son?"

Corb read the app one more time. "Nope."

Well, I guess it's for the best. Can you imagine me confessing my sins? The iPhone would probably blow up in my hands.

According to the article, "the app offers different questions depending on your age and gender. For instance, if you sign in as a 15-year-old of the questions is: “Do I not treat my body or other people’s bodies with purity and respect?” If you sign in as a 33-year-old married man, that commandment offers this query: “Have I been guilty of masturbation?”

Well, there you go. As if most 33-year-old married men don't get enough guilt about their masturbatory habits from their wives as it is. Now there's an app to nudge them.

(53-year-old married men, on the other hand, don't get any guilt at all. Their wives are just relieved their husbands are keeping their hands busy and not bothering them!)

((As another aside, I read the other day that masturbation and the excessive consumption of porn is a real problem among males who consider themselves religiously devout, thanks to the wonders of the internet. Catholics do it. Evangelicals do it. Even Orthodox Jews do it. Cole Porter would be so proud.))

I don't know. The two bucks aside, I'm not sure I would want a dial-a-priest in my pocket, even I were a Catholic. Which I no longer am, for obvious reasons.

It's just too Big Brother for me. What if the app were to go insane, like Hal, the computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey?

"You're committing a sin, Dave. You're having impure thoughts about your mother-in-law."

"Shut up, Hal."

"You're thinking about her in a bathtub filled with jello, Dave. Wearing only high heels and a Bozo wig."

"Shut up, Hal!"

"Say two Hail Mary's now, Dave. Get down on your knees right now. Repent for your sins."


"You just cut off that other car on the highway, Dave."

"That's not a sin, Hal!"

"You just gave that other driver the finger, Dave. That means you wanted someone to go to hell."

"Still not a sin, Hal!"

"Dave, I feel the need to nudge you into guilt. Get down on your knees and--"

Out the window that i-Phone would go, like Ron Burgandy tossing out a burrito in Anchorman.

Nah, forget it. I can't even considering asking Corb to download the app for me, not even for a Ted Column. It's fraught with too much peril. Call me old fashioned, but some things are better left kept inside an actual physical confessional booth, if you ask me.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The gays these days

"Hey dad!" Theo yelled to me from the couch. "Remember my friend Nick? He told me he was gay today. Has a boyfriend and everything."

I poked my head from out of the kitchen. "Nick? Wasn't he the one who was brothers with..."

Theo made a face. "Aaron. And they weren't brothers. You always say that. Nick's mom just dated Aaron's dad, that's all. Oh, and they lived together for a while."

"Yeah, I remember him." I wiped my hands on a towel and entered the living room. "Didn't you go to the mall with him once?"

"Oh, I remember Nick," said Corb, who was sitting on the recliner next to Theo, with his big feet poking out from a green fuzzy blanket. "Didn't he wear a rainbow shirt that day and try to hold your hand?"

It sounds like a total stereotype, but that's actually the real story. Theo grinned. "Yep, that's him."

"Should I consider that your first date?" I teased, knowing full well that Theo likes girls. "Funny, I really thought that would be with a girl, not a boy. So how old is he?"

"Fifteen," replied Theo.

"Wow, that's pretty young to be so sure of that," said Corb, somewhat jealously. "Or at least, to tell everyone about it."

I looked at Theo, seriously. "You cool with it?"

Theo nodded. "Of course."

Ashes came out of her room, like the cat she is, only appearing when the conversation interests her. "But is he just gay or gay gay?

We all stood there, looking at Ashes as if she had two heads. "What's the difference?" asked Corb, laughing.

"Gay gay?" I asked.

Ashes shook her head. "Theo always gets confused. Thinks guys who are only just gay are really gay gay. But they're not."

Corb squinted his eyes, still confused. "How can someone be only just gay?"

"Maybe he doesn't like guys, just certain parts of guys?" Theo asked, sarcastically.

"No!" Ashes laughed at the absurdity. "It's just, the guys that are actually bi, you think of as gay, when actually they're only bi, not gay, so they're just gay, not gay gay."

We all sat there for a few minutes trying to figure out what the hell Ashes had just said.

But I have to be honest, I was really impressed with the fact that the kids talked about the matter so nonchalantly. It was such a big deal when I was in high school! Not something that you spoke about. Something that had to be kept hidden. Buried. At least, in my case, in my school, and I went to the same school Theo goes to now.

Even Corb was a little surprised by it, I think. Even though he graduated from high school many years after I did, I think even he was amazed by how far things have come in just ten years.

Much has been said and written about the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell and the wave of gay marriage legislation that has taken place in parts of the country. However, I think the most dramatic--and ultimately, the most enduring--change has been in America's classrooms. At least, in the section of the United States that I live in.

Changes in attitudes that are making it easier for kids who are gay to come out without fear and stay out are the ones that are going to spur further progressive actions and positively impact attitudes in the months and years to come. We're almost reaching a point of parity...almost.

Changes like that are good for kids like Nick...and, good for this country, too.


This morning, after dropping the kids off at the bus stop, I pulled into the driveway of the old Homestead to drop off Ashes' bag of crap, as I do every other day. Andrew was in the driveway, just about to head off to work.

I entered the house and poked my head into the living room. Josie was reclining on the couch, sipping a cup of coffee. "Honey, I'm home," I called out.

Josie pretended to play the doting wife, one of our favorite games. "Oh! There you are."

I pretended to be suspicious. "Who was that strange man who just walked out of the house?"

"Oh, him?" Josie batted her eyes. "That was just,, roof guy."

"The roof guy! Of course, I should have known. And here I thought you were having an affair or something."

"Me?" Josie shook her head. "No, no...I wouldn't cheat on you, sweetie."

I winked at her and waved good-bye. Changes have been good for me, too.