Since I was a little girl, it was generally understood thatlightning never strikes twice. As I have come to learn, it strikesthe Empire State Building an average of 25 times per year. Twoweeks ago, I relayed the story of my finding a pair of black lacepanties and ripped-up photos of a sexual encounter on a bus.Lightning has indeed struck me, metaphorically speaking, thrice.The location of my third bizarre finding was not anywhere on theTriMet bus system, but in front of an unassuming Presbyterianchurch.
To my grandmother’s chagrin, I occasionally leave my bus pass athome and pedal from Southeast Hawthorne to Southwest Harrison andback again. In the mornings, my eyelids squint against the light asI fly downhill, joining the influx of 9-to-5 businesspeople andothers who have ripped themselves from their warm sheets to helpgive the city its bustle.
I generally remember nothing except how long I have to wait atthe stoplight on Tenth and Hawthorne and how tall the buildings ofdowntown look as I cross the Willamette River.
The ride home at night is different, though. I notice everythingfrom the smell of the blossoming trees, the night workers at theprinting company on Second and Madison, the boats in the river andthe condensation on Palio Cafe’s tall windows.
As I draw closer to home, the sensorial imprints shift to thenumber of windows that flicker with the blue light of televisionscreens, and whether or not my breath makes fog in front of myface.
The side streets in my neighborhood are clean. People take careof their lawns and, when there is garbage in the street, it standsout like a red envelope in the mail system. All this said, when myeyes fell upon a bright green box with pictures of naked youngwomen proudly displaying their exploits, I hit the brakes.
The box is larger than an average VHS tape and was seemingly”well-loved.” The title is displayed in bubbly, psychedeliclettering and reads, “Melting Pot Madness, Eruptions #41.” It alsoclaims to have “no color lines” and “package pleasing hunnies.”
My first thought was: “Who do I know that I can give thisto?”
My second thought was: “Oh my God, this is right in front of thePresbyterian church!”
My third thought was: “When someone misplaces their porn, howmany places will they look for it before looking in front of aPresbyterian church?”
Although I am not religious, as I understand it, God does notlike porn. But, people do like it when those who act holier thanthou turn out to be just as sin-tastic as the rest of us. When JimBaker, the infamous televangelist, was sent to prison for a fraudconviction, America watched the rows of magazine covers in thesupermarkets with smug curiosity.
I imagine that the modern church owns a VCR player or two, andthat there are a number of ministers who travel from their happyhomes to their church for inspiration and a quiet place to writetheir sermons. Quite possibly, the minister of the church purchasedthe video and watched it as “research” for their upcoming sermon onthe “degradation of our moral fabric.” I’ll bet that would havebeen a very moralizing sermon. It could have used some visuals,though.