A Saturday morning spent shifting uncomfortably on metal folding chairs in the basement of a church while mentally molesting a box of rapidly staling Krispy Kremes must mean Week 1 of the five-week pre-Cana extravaganza was upon us! A retrospective, in highlights:
* Our course leader (who, inexplicably, is unmarried) loves Jesus and the Catholic Church like some people love the Yankees and Nip/Tuck. But as the two hours wear on she seems to grow increasingly dejected that the 16 of us in her class don’t share her memorized love for the catechism. Actual utterance: “OK, who knows about St. Catherine of Siena?” (crickets chirping) “Oh my gosh you guys, she’s like my favorite saint of all time!” The overall effect though is that she’s actually sort of endearing.
* Despite the discussion of mental fidelity to one’s spouse, I find my mind wandering to another man as the instructor talks. Specifically, to this one. Why? Because I can’t help inwardly cracking up over how he would be as giddy as a little schoolboy if he had the chance to be a fly on the wall for all this Catholic tomfoolery.
* Despite the claim at the outset that the point of pre-Cana is to help couples learn more about each other and their faith, it becomes perfectly clear within about 20 minutes that the point of pre-Cana is to convince couples that if they so much as walk by the condom aisle at CVS they’re going to burn in Hell and their relationship is doomed. Seriously, we were each given a folder stuffed with pamphlets and 90 percent of them were about Natural Family Planning (or as I like to call it, “actively throwing decades of scientific progress and women’s lib to the wind”) and how its reliance on timing sex to phases of the woman’s cycle is the only acceptable method of birth control. Otherwise, you’d be capriciously failing to pop out
future donorsblessed miracles for the Catholic Church. And of course my packet of information held way more stern pamphlets on this than my fiancé’s on this topic, because after all, the Church would like to point out, it wasn’t Adam chowing on the forbidden fruit. (I am convinced that if the Pope himself were handing us the packets he would have raised one eyebrow and added “Just sayin'” as he handed me my “My Little Contraceptive-Lovin’ Seductress” packet.) This Natural Family Planning business will of course warrant extensive future posting, especially once I watch the DVD that I was given in my packet, Contraception: Why Not?
* There is one extra goodie in my fiancé’s packet. It’s a brochure titled “Man to Man” and it’s about how if you’re for some ungodly reason trying not to have children, abstinence when your wife is in fertile turtle mode is totally awesome and the only way to avoid burning in the aforementioned Hell. It includes the line, “Some men find that abstinence breaks up the anxiety of feeling pressured to have sex ‘on demand.'” Yes, I know scads of married men who are desperately trying to find ways to graciously bow out of all that sex with their wives.
* All the other couples seem as nervous as we were. But the too-wide smiles of the women and the too-firm handshakes of the men quickly give way to “Are you shitting me?” eyerolls and snickering into hands when we think our instructor isn’t looking. And by the second hour it’s clear that the women are all busy trying to slyly check out each other’s engagement rings and the guys are engaged in a silent but heated round of “Whose fiancée is hotter?” By Week 5 I’m assuming we’ll be blatantly exchanging vendor recommendations while the instructor is chirping away up front about how Satan is using our ovaries as a battleground. Onward Christian soldiers…
[Editor’s note: The picture above is one of my favorite saints of all time. Bonus points if you can name her and say why she’s up there. And double bonus points if you can beat commenter Etcetera to the punch on this one.]