Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tales from the Tube: the Spanish Inquisition

I “interviewed” at several schools in Phrae along the way, one of them was a Catholic school. I put old grudges aside and figured, these days the Catholic schools are just interested in tuition, no more of that old imperative: turn out as many terrified, obedient Catholics as possible. I went in to see the director, who was supposedly expecting me.

The gatekeeper was a sullen looking Thai man about forty years old. I explained to him the nature of my mission, and that I had an appointment. I did it in Thai, which of course my Thai is not the best but although it is still pretty snake-snake-fish-fish people understand me pretty well. He gave me a look, I mean a look, like Brother Thomas Burns at Holy Cross, my Holy Cross to bear long ago, had caught some poor student with a Playboy magazine in his locker. Like Torquemada gave the heretics. A look, and he said, sarcastically yet, “do you speak English?” I told him again of my mission, and he set me straight right away. “You can’t expect to walk in here and talk to the director,” he, what, spit out the words? Sneered? Whatever it was it was rude beyond belief. He must have thought that I was lying about the appointment. He gave me an application and I left. Of course the director calls several people later in the afternoon: where is the Farang? I went back the next day.

The director was a nun who supposedly spoke English but you couldn’t tell by me because she only spoke rapid-fire Thai to me. She asked me what religion I was and I told her I was Catholic. I found out later that the next thing she asked me was, so, if you’re Catholic and you lived in Phrae for two years, why did I never see you in Church? She lost me; the interview didn’t last long.

At first I thought she was just displeased with the state of my Catholicism, god knows she had a right to be. But actually I believe that she thought that I was lying about being Catholic. Trying to curry favor to get a job at her sh*t school. Can you imagine? Me, who has received five of the sacraments by now, Baptism, First Communion, Penance, Confirmation and Marriage, I think that’s five out of seven. Unless becoming a nun is “Ordination,” which I doubt, I’m one up on Sister So-and-So.

I realized that I offered no middle name, no “Confirmation name,” further proof that I was lying. Never try to fool the geniuses of the world; you can’t get over on them. With their superior intellects and mysterious powers of deduction they will catch you in any lie.

And so what if I were a Protestant, even a Unitarian, or, even worse, a Jew, or some kind of Buddhist-Farang hybrid, or if I worshiped an airplane carcass in some cargo-cult, or so what if I worshiped Satan himself? Twenty people right here in Phrae can tell the woman that they have known me for years and that I am a good man and a good teacher. Two years in the Peace Corps is a nice introduction too.

She still has my bowels in an uproar. Who is she to judge me? Get a clue woman: when god sends you a nice gift, don’t criticize the wrapping paper.

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