For the past fifteen years, when someone has wanted to know what I do for a living, and they really don’t need to know, I say I am a contract killer. I can be convincing.
The lady who cuts my hair—a stunning blonde named Katie—believed this for about five years. I travel a lot, and she likes to ask where I’ve been lately. Answers, all true, have been San Antonio, Austria, Vermont, Belgium, Atlanta, Canada, Thailand, Romania—anywhere and everywhere.
Katie was careful not to ask what I was doing in those places and I didn’t tell her. Sometimes it was a quick trip and other times I said, “I need to be gone for a while.” The less I disclosed about me, the better.
Over time, I got to know Katie pretty well. She told me about her life, a world I knew nothing about—clubs and parties and boyfriends, nightlife among the young and beautiful.
Eventually, one day, the jig was up. I had given a Bible as a gift to a couple I knew, and they started going to church. The husband got a job in Katie’s salon as a massage therapist. Somehow, one day, I became the topic of conversation and my cover was blown.
For over forty-five years, I have enjoyed a career as a Baptist minister. Yet I found nothing shuts down dialogue more quickly than for a stranger to make that discovery. They suddenly develop a different personality. They are on their best behavior. I will never get to know that person as a real human being. Everything they say will be sanitized by their He is a preacher filter. I hate that.
It’s really a bummer when the introducer adds, “Be careful what you say. He’s a pastor.” I hate that.
Certain topics are immediately off limits. There will be no honest revelations about spouses or children, no talk about sex, booze, cigars or certain movies. No tales about wild weekends. If the person slips us and cusses, they will say, “Pardon my French, pastor.” They assume they know how I vote. I hate that.
I am a real person and I like real people.
A few years ago, Katie asked me to officiate at her wedding. I was honored. By then, I knew the real Katie and she knew the real Marion. I like that.