I was running late to church which, as far as I’m concerned, is one of the more horrible feelings of tardiness. Because of my late arrival I had to park far away in the adjunct parking lot which is really just a grassy field and hiked in at a fast clip wearing heels. At least there wasn’t mud. But there was the marble floor of the sanctuary that echoed every step, and with the terraced seating, everyone could see who was making a late entrance. Some days, when the ushers were feeling particularly badass, you couldn’t even sit down unless they escorted you to a specific seat when the priest wasn’t speaking. It was my opinion that those were designated “sinner” seats, but that may have been my Catholic guilt acting up.
Somehow I avoided the usher and slid into a pew at the back. Everyone was standing for the Introductory Rites, so I didn’t feel too conspicuous. Flushed from running, I turned to the man beside me with a sunny smile.
“Peace be with you,” I said and shook his hand.
He was my height and very tan. His hand was firm and dry, with thick callouses. I could tell he did some type of physical labor because he was muscular in a way that said “active” and not “gym monkey.” I looked into his brown eyes and had the definite feeling that I knew him from somewhere.
As the priest transitioned into the first Penitential Act, it hit me.
I confess to almighty God
And to you, my brothers and sisters,
That was the guy who had messaged me the night before on a dating site! He was Mr. FWB, or Friends with Benefits for those of us not versed in the online dating nomenclature. In his message he stated that he worked in a male dominated field and his schedule was hectic, so he really didn’t have time for a relationship. My impression was that he didn’t want to mess with feelings. He just wanted to have sex.
that I have greatly sinned,
in my thoughts and in my words,
Heart pounding, I kept my eyes trained on the fluffy, white perm in front of me even though I was dying to sneak another peek at the man. Did he recognize me? The thought made my toes curl in my Manolos. I wasn’t embarrassed about his message. In fact, I admired that he was so honest about what he was looking for. My issue was that I didn’t know the protocol for such situations, especially in the house of the Lord. I looked at the praying people around me. Had one of these people also been on a St. Andrews Cross last Saturday night?
When I passed the collection basket, he carefully avoided eye contact. My stomach was full of butterflies. I still couldn’t tell if it was embarrassment or the simple act of trying to get his cash in the right place. By the second hymn I gave up trying to decipher his nonverbals and made peace with the reality that it was none of my business. Yes, he had reached out to me on a dating site, but I hadn’t responded to him. We didn’t use our real names. If he wasn’t going to say anything, neither was I. He had his reasons, and who knows, maybe he took one look at me and decided I wasn’t the girl for him. Despite my hot shoes
It reminded me that when I see members of the kinky community out and about, I don’t go charging up to them and address them by their scene names or how I know them on Fetlife. I use real life names if I’ve been introduced, and we talk about mundane things because not everyone is “out” about their sexual preferences. Some people I know merely by sight and don’t approach them at all if they’re busy trying to act like they don’t know me. Any of those reactions are fine with me, because I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable. I decided to extrapolate that same etiquette for traditional dating sites and the people I bump into, especially if they’re sitting next to me on a pew.
My fellow parishioner, your secret is safe with me. May you find that friend with benefits that you seek. I won’t say a word about it.