"That's what you go by - 'what feels right'? Feels right on the outside or the inside? What works for the skin isn't always good for the heart or the head."
Diana is a closeted lesbian who has not yet come out to her friend Isobel, a girl whom she met both in church and college classes they share, and on whom Diana harbors a crush. Diana finds it hard to watch Isobel relate to her high-school friend Linc. Linc is openly gay. Isobel knows this, but is still carrying a torch for him, though she'd be the first to deny it. The two young women are out shopping at the local mall.
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copyright 2001 by Matthew A. Everett
The light returns to normal and emphasis shifts to DIANA and ISOBEL, trying on shoes. A rolling display module, with shoes mounted on it, and in shoe boxes can serve to set the scene.
ISOBELDo you think God regrets giving us free will?
DIANAI know a lot of days, I regret it. Too many decisions, too many ways to screw up.
ISOBELBut God wouldn't have given us a brain if She didn't want us to use it.
DIANASo we're calling God a She today?
DIANAI just need to start using a pronoun. If I use the word God every time, I feel like I'm swearing. And we're alternating every day this week, why again?
ISOBELBecause calling God a He all the time is sexist, calling God She all the time makes Her a Goddess, and I'm not comfortable with that yet; alternating daily is better than during the same day --
DIANA-- or the same sentence --
ISOBEL-- because that just gets confusing.
DIANAAnd why aren't we trying "it"?
ISOBELI just don't think it's polite to call God an it.
DIANASo She gives us a brain and a heart, and wants us to use them, but isn't that the way we get into the most trouble?
ISOBELWe can, sure, but if God had total mind control --
DIANAWe wouldn't be making a conscious choice to come to Him -- er, Her. See, this is why I envy the Catholics.
ISOBELYou're kidding, right?
DIANASo they've got the Pope and confession and guilt and five million rules, but at least they know where they stand. They've got a formula - a few "Hail Mary's," a few "Our Father's" --
ISOBELIt's not that simple.
DIANABut it sure looks that way from the outside sometimes, doesn't it? Come on, admit it. What do we Baptists get? No Latin, no pageantry. No infant baptism.
ISOBELYou want infant baptism?
DIANAWell, look what we get.
ISOBELWe get to decide whether or not we want to join the church. We don't have the whole thing decided for us before we can crawl or say our first word.
DIANAThey still have First Confession, Holy Communion, and Confirmation. Us, they save it all up for one event where we get a full immersion dunking in front of the entire congregation at the precise moment we're most insecure about our bodies.
ISOBELOK, you got me there.
DIANAHow was the water in your baptismal?
DIANATepid. In the middle of the ceremony, did you feel like you had to pee?
ISOBELI was standing chest deep in lukewarm water, what do you think?
DIANAStage fright always goes for my bladder first.
ISOBELI nearly missed the pastor's cue for my part of the ceremony. I was just standing there, distracted, thinking, "This is it. If I pee here, I'm going straight to hell."
DIANAInfant baptism. If you pee during the ceremony, nobody holds it against you.
ISOBELDid you feel any different after the baptism was over?
DIANANo, not really. You?
ISOBELNo. Did you feel cheated?
DIANANot really. They walk you very carefully through the whole thing. No mystery left. I wasn't expecting much.
ISOBELEverything goes on. Only it gets harder because you have to keep it a secret.
DIANAWhat do you mean?
ISOBELYou don't dare tell your friends in junior high.
DIANAIt's like saying you still believe in Santa Claus.
ISOBELExactly. That's why I felt cheated. It was this great thing and I didn't feel like I could share it with anyone, you know.
DIANAYeah, I can remember feeling that way about -- things.
ISOBELThat's why it was such a relief to meet you.
DIANAYeah. You, too.
ISOBELCould somebody please explain to me why religion is so embarrassing? I mean, after a certain age, as soon as you're considered old enough to be able to make your own decisions, when you're no longer supposed to allow your mother to hug you in front of witnesses unless it's under protest, suddenly, if you still go to church, willingly, if you still believe in any type of God, any kind of tradition, you must be simple-minded. You're obviously not using your whole brain, you're not skeptical or questioning enough to be considered an adult, or at least not an interesting one. When did I suddenly become everyone's intolerant, humorless, half-witted Sunday School teacher? I didn't sign up for that.
DIANABut there have to be some standards. Protestants have such a laid-back attitude to sin, it's like there's no guidelines, no accountability, no consequences.
ISOBELYou want to be punished for your mistakes?
DIANAI want to know what they are, so I can avoid making them in the first place. But no one wants to talk about the rules.
ISOBELLove people, don't hurt them if you can possibly avoid it without being dishonest.
DIANABut what's the right way to do that?
ISOBELDepends on you, depends on the other person.
DIANASee, that's maddening. That tells me absolutely nothing. I don't know what to do with something as nebulous as that.
ISOBELYes, you do.
DIANAYou're inside my head now?
ISOBELWhat feels right?
DIANAThat's what you go by - "what feels right"? Feels right on the outside or the inside? What works for the skin isn't always good for the heart or the head.
ISOBELSo it's not good for you overall - and you teach your skin to wait for the right things to come along.
ISOBELDid I say it was easy?
DIANASo what are you teaching your skin lately?
ISOBELNot much of anything, now that you mention it.
DIANAToo busy fighting with Linc?
ISOBELWhy don't you like him?
DIANAHe makes you unhappy.
ISOBELHe just frustrates me.
ISOBELPurely an intellectual exercise.
DIANAI don't buy that for a second. You wouldn't fight so hard or keep going back for more if he didn't mean something to you.
ISOBELHe's giving up on everyone and everything he used to know.
DIANASince he came out?
ISOBELIt's not about his being gay.
DIANA gives ISOBEL a look.
ISOBEL (cont'd)It's not.
He's just so unhappy right now. And all of the things and all of the people that used to help --
ISOBELAnd his brother. And that boyfriend of his.
DIANAWho is the problem.
ISOBELAll the things and people that used to comfort him, he's pushing us all away, like we're all responsible, like we all don't understand. Like if he just shed us all, his old life, like a skin...
DIANAAnd what better place to do it than college...
ISOBELSomehow that solves the problem. No reminders, clean slate.
DIANAAnd you're not ready to let him go yet.
ISOBELI don't think it works the way he thinks it will. And I want him to know that we're all still trying, and we'll all still be here.
DIANAWhen he comes to his senses.
ISOBELYou really think I'm trying to lure him back?
DIANAI think you wouldn't mind.
ISOBELI know better.
DIANAYeah, but that's your head. What's your skin telling you?
copyright 2001 by Matthew A. Everett