I May Or May Not Be An Infidel, But You Are A Tattletale


No more tattling, I called it! (Image by Beige Alert via Flickr)

One of the things that I have learned from watching my folks is that parents are always proud parents. That pride doesn’t go away with the diapers, or when their child heads off to make their way in the world. No matter what you and I do, our parents see their little boys and girls doing it.

If my parents are in a position to introduce themselves to someone I might work with, they always do. I get a kick out of hearing “I talked to your Mom yesterday” or “I saw your Dad”. Most all the people who’ve had “my son Oma” encounters have been kind enough to tell my parents the good stories they have about me.

This is the tale of someone who didn’t so much tell one of my parents a story about me. She was actually closer to just telling on me.

Hi Mom

The other day, my Mom called me to relate the story of my Dad crossing paths with a woman I used to supervise.

Dad has recently been attending meetings for a volunteer program at one of my agency’s offices. He arrived early and found the door locked. That is when my former co-worker walked up. My Dad introduced himself as a volunteer. They talked a bit and then my father asked if she knew me. She told him that she did, and that we’d worked together in a different section about ten years ago.

They chatted about different things about work, life and her kids. Then the conversation came back to my father’s kid. She lobbed out a question, seemingly out of the blue:

“Oma, he’s not that religious, is he?”

You Can’t Tell On Me!

What in the world would possess a person to ask my father something like that? I don’t remember that becoming a polite question to ask someone a person knows well, to say nothing of someone they’ve known for ten minutes.

Was she telling on me? I will be fifty years old next week. While my parents are still the boss of me, I am no longer eligible to be tattled on.

What is the man supposed to say? Perhaps he should’ve said “yeah, I kind of screwed up with the first son and made him an infidel”. Maybe the right thing for him to have said is “yeah, he’s pretty much going to hell”.

The funny thing is, I have never had a conversation on religious issues with this woman, ever. In the past ten years we might have been in the same room once. She has as many reasons to believe I am religious as she does to believe that I am not. I have a lot of respect for people’s faith choices. The only time I take issue with another person’s religious practice is when they do not respect the beliefs of other people.

E Pluribus Unum

I’ve got a lot of reasons to admire my father. One of them is that he is always behind his sons, even the infidel one. Though his answer to the question wasn’t exactly true to the way he raised me, it is completely true to the person he is and taught me to be.

According to my mother, his answer to the “not very religious” question was typical. His response wasn’t to launch into a complex defense of what he really didn’t need to defend. He chose instead to stand by me, whatever it is that I am:

“Yeah, I guess he takes after me”.

My feet would never fit those shoes.


35 Comments on “I May Or May Not Be An Infidel, But You Are A Tattletale”

  1. Todd Pack says:

    Good answer. I’m afraid I would said something sarcastic.

  2. shoutabyss says:

    That’s one of those questions that is so flabbergasting it leaves you flat-footed.

    Our society still has its own version of manners, politeness and unspoken rules, but they sure aren’t what they used to be. Or maybe they are. I’ve heard tell of some small cities in the South where newcomers are greeted with a question like, “What church do you go to?” The response to such questions apparently dictates many things.

    Six years ago in my small town I was asked basically the same question in a job interview. I bamboozled the interviewer, got the job, and she become my boss. Luckily I’m not litigious. πŸ™‚ She was a great boss and a cool person, too. Nobody’s perfect.

    Your dad did good. He thinks fast on his feet and remains cool under pressure.

    I’ll bet you’re already receiving mailers from AARP? πŸ™‚

    • omawarisan says:

      Being asked what church you go to or being asked to attend someones church is very common here. In fact, it is considered rude if you take offense. You may politely decline but if you are agitated you are fair game!

      Oh yeah….AARP’s got me.

  3. Amy says:

    Absolutely perfect answer! With a dad like that, I bet the pride goes both ways in your family.

  4. Katybeth says:

    How rude. A “why do you ask” answer was deserved. You dad handled it beautiful. The lady was nosey and inappropriate.

  5. I agree with abyss, one of those questions that leaves someone speechless! You’re father handled that perfectly!

  6. You know, birthday season, particularly those around milestone birthdays, always brings about seemingly odd questions and behaviors, until the big unveil at the local American Legion hall. Maybe she’s working on a “This is Your Life” presentation for the surpr. . .

    Never mind.

    • omawarisan says:

      “He was good to work with, but I always had the feeling he was going to burn in hell…”

      “Oma, do you know that voice from the past?”

      “Yeah, but what is she doing here? It’s bad enough you dragged my Italian teacher in here.”

  7. queensgirl says:

    Wait a sec…your parents call you Oma, too?


  8. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    You can’t remember all the times you worked right on through Christmas and Easter, toiling away at your desk? You left a huge batch of emails on her computer those days and she was miffed at having to respond to them. On Christmas, you brought in a nativity scene made entirely of Vienna sausages and fried potato sticks. You sang Christmas carols all day long completely out of tune, as loudly as you could. You came in dressed as Joseph but your staff was a golf club, which you waved about, crying, “She was a virgin when I met her, too!” Right before Easter, you sat at your desk, day after day, popping Ritz crackers in your mouth, muttering: “The body of Christ. The body of Christ.” Whenever this young woman sneezed, you’d shout, “Dog Bless You!” Then you’d guffaw. You can’t remember any of this because your practice is to get extremely drunk right before these Christian holidays and sacrilege till you’re out of breath. Now I’m a tattle tale. Good thing I don’t know how to get in touch with your Dad.

    • omawarisan says:

      They weren’t Ritz, they were Necco wafers.

      I played Joseph in a school play.

      I have worked a lot of Christmas’ and Easters.

      Are you my sister?

      • Snoring Dog Studio says:

        I’m not tellin’

        I will say this: We all know you’re a decent, kind, generous and thoughtful man. That woman is a ninnymuggins.

  9. spencercourt says:

    It’s not just “small cities” in the South…

    When i lived in Gainesville, Florida and worked for the County Commission in 1982, a commissioner asked the County Manager during a regular meeting of the Commission: “Do you go to church”? When the CM said he did, the commissioner asked, “Which church?” and the CM replied:” Unitarian.” That caused the commissioner to smile a “that’s not a real church” smile… and move on. I was dumbfounded…

  10. We Found Him Captain! says:

    You have some fantastic writing skills. I really enjoyed reading about your lack of religious zeal. Maybe you should consider sneaking into church and sit behind your former work mate during Mass. When she goes up to the alter for communion you could sneak up behind her and yell the word “LARRY” in her ear and run outside. That will really confuse her and she will never suspect it was you because she already knows your not very religious.

    You said some flattering things about your father in this blurt….. I’m sure he is very proud of you even though you may not be VERY RELIGOUS.

  11. Lenore Diane says:

    You’ve got an awesome Dad, Oma. I am confident if the roles were switch – ie someone saying something similar to you about your son, you’d respond in the same way. There was no better response. Your Dad nailed it.

  12. Laura says:

    That’s what you get for living in the South. Here in California, being “not very religious” would be considered neutral, neither a good thing nor a bad thing. Bringing it up out of the blue when you’re not actually there would still be weird, though.

    Okay, I probably don’t speak for all of California. But it’s true for most people I know.

  13. planetross says:

    β€œOma, he’s not that religious, is he?”

    What was this person’s point?
    I smell agenda on this person’s part … and tremendous obstacle coursing skills on your father’s part.

    note: what would your father say about your “pumpkin beliefs”?. hee hee!

  14. This is always so strange when people ask questions like this. Not only do they assume it’s their business, but they assume your parents will think it’s a normal thing for them to talk about with a stranger.

  15. I like your Dad’s answer. How are you going to celebrate the big one?

  16. Blogdramedy says:

    No need to fit those shoes, Oma. After reading this post, I think you and your Dad take the same size. πŸ™‚

  17. Wow. Your dad is a class act. Perfect response πŸ™‚

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