"You don't have to take a bath to understand how much he loves you," explains the man whose name tag reads DOUG.*** It is Friday night and I'm freshly showered but apparently DOUG. does not have much experience with clean women.
"No bathing!" I say. "That's a plus. How does he feel about shut-ins?" "He'd be the guy at your window every night, checking to make sure you're okay." "How does he feel about restraining orders?" "That's funny," DOUG. says, looking anything but amused.
We're standing on the balcony at Capitol Hill's Sole Repair. The bar is decorated with tables of Bibles arranged like crosses and illuminated by white candles. DOUG. cornered me as I was slipping a pile of tiny Bibles into my purse. These are not ordinary Bibles; they are gamer Bibles, "A little book about a guy named Jesus, his Guild, and his ultimate quest to save a land known as Earth."
Game Church—an online Christian website for video game enthusiasts—is in town for the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX—you can find thrillingly exhaustive coverage of it here, here, and here). DOUG. says they're not at PAX to convert, just, you know, talk about how awesome Jesus is and hand out free Bibles. He fist-bumps a bald man in sunglasses with "Hold Fast" tattooed on his knuckles, as well as "Jesus" in cyrillic.
Three drinks worth of fun.
But aside from church staff, there don't appear to be many Christians present. The gamers I meet are all heathens looking for free drinks before hitting the better PAX after parties. And I don't play video games; I'm just a girl who can be suckered into any situation with the promise of a free drink (or three) and novelty Bibles. As are my coworkers.
Paul Constant and Bethany Jean Clement stand below us, ordering another free round at the bar from their plastic "JESUS LOVES YOU!" drink wristbands. I envy them. DOUG. is straight edge, married, and really, really into Jesus, which basically makes him the trifecta of uselessness to me.
"So you've rewritten the Bible to include Matrix references," I say to DOUG. "Can I rewrite it to have more of a nautical theme?"
***Not to be confused with DOUG., the slog commenter.
But DOUG. is no longer paying attention to me—he's staring at another man at the bar. It's Jesus Christ. I point and say, "Holy shit, it's Jesus Christ!"
DOUG. is annoyed—at me, and apparently, at Jesus. "Do you know him?" he asks. (I do not.) "I need to make sure he was invited." I follow him downstairs because watching Jesus get thrown out of this party would be a rare and special gift, like celebrating Christmas in August.
After answering a few discreet questions, he's allowed to stay. It turns out Jesus is from Ellensburg. He has purple streaks in his hair, his feet are perfectly clean, he drinks whiskey-cokes, and it looks like he stole his sash from a rodeo queen (he denies this). Paul, Bethany, Jesus, and I toast to his health. The party takes off. We fly through our wristband drinks. While the Christians in the room ignore him, nerds flock to the purple-haired Jesus to get his take on the best video games ever made. We dance. A man hits on me by reciting Old Spice commercials; the church leader—the tattooed, fist-bumping dude from before—flirts with Bethany because she is tall. "What are you, 5'11"?" he asks. "I like people like you."
Before the party went sour.
Another man wearing a Game Church lanyard offers to take my picture with Jesus. He's from California, like the rest of the Game Church squad. As he snaps away, Bethany asks the inevitable: "How do you feel about the gays?" "Jesus loves and accepts them," the photographer says. Jesus nods. "So, then, do you support gay rights, like gay marriage?" asks Bethany. "I really love it," Jesus volunteers. The man hedges, saying something to the effect of, "I've never really given it any thought." We all agree this is bullshit. Gay marriage is the number three thing all Christians think about, right after straight marriage and masturbation. It is a political platform, for christsakes. There are coffee table books devoted to the subject.
"Did you vote for Prop 8?" I ask. "I honestly don't remember," the man says, adding. "I don't think much about voting. I just do it." "Maybe you should give it some motherfucking thought," Bethany politely says. We're all bristling at his feigned ignorance. "Now that you've brought it up, I definitely will," the man says. "Swear it on this pack of tiny Bibles," I say, reaching into my purse and pulling out a handful of Bibles. The man refuses. "We're not accusing you of spearheading the National Burn a Faggot Association," says Paul. "If you don't like gay people, just admit it. Don't pretend you've never given the topic any thought." Trying to be an agreeable weasel, the man insists he, personally, has no problem with the idea of gay people. "Fucking fuck you guys," adds Bethany. Things get tense. Another church member, DOUG. maybe, jokes that religion and politics are never topics of polite conversation for a party—which is, of course, absurd. We're at a Christian conversion party in the gayest neighborhood in Rainbow City. I'm out of drinks. What else is there to talk about? Then Jesus interrupts our argument to announce he's leaving. "It's not you," Jesus says. "It's just really late and I'm kind of tired and there are other places I have to be." Everyone feels bad but Jesus cannot be convinced to stay. Shortly after he leaves, so do we.