She left me.
My atheist girlfriend, who never believed in God.
Who decried the pious and sanctimonious. Who believed that morality could (and should) be derived from within, rather than from a holy book.
She, who smirked in the face of conventionalism and laughed at the blushing brides, posting their photoshopped masterpieces to their social accounts.
She wants a church wedding. She wants the white dress. She wants the country house reception. But she doesn’t want me.
It’s times like these that make me jealous of the religious. Barry caught me on the way back from church on Sunday and invited me into his home for a cup of tea.
He could tell that I was hurting, he’d seen me listlessly mowing the lawn and knew the look of a broken man. I was drifting diagonally, not paying attention to what I was doing. My mind had abandoned the task at hand – Barry’s light touch on my shoulder brought me out of my reverie.
“Son, you seem lost. Come inside – partake of some tea and bread – tell me what ails you.”
Barry was not usually prone to speaking in such a biblical tone. However, as I said, he’d just returned from church and must have been suffering from a temporary dialect shift.
I told him everything. How Sally had left, because she was happy to be unconventional whilst she was in her twenties but felt that a woman in her thirties should lead a more traditional life. How she couldn’t imagine raising children out of wedlock. How she had met a ‘good hard-working man’ through work and ‘things just happened’. He was single of course. She was far too conventional to go breaking up another relationship – just ours.
Barry listened, with his hands forming a steeple, similar to the one that adorns his place of worship. Pictures of Biblical scenes covered the walls, even my my mug had a charming quotation from Leviticus emblazoned on the interior.
When I had finished, spent of all my sorrow, I waited. Expecting Barry to look to the sky, as if beseeching God for the right Bible passage to quote, and then said:
“What a bitch.”
Sometimes its the simplest words, said at just the right time, that can make you feel all the better.
I respect the hope that religion instils in people who are at death’s door. I understand the comfort that God gives to those who are lonely.
But when your ex-girlfriend leaves you for an arse of a car salesman, who earns more money than you could make in a decade, there really is no better cure for the blues than a sweary Baptist.