I once dated a narcissistic priest in bankruptcy. As it turned out, he had issues.
Technically, he was on a leave of absence from the priesthood, due to the fact that he couldn’t seem to stop fucking the women in his church; and apparently at least one husband had taken offense.
Still, he was disciplined. He woke around 3 a.m. every day to run, to pray, to brood obsessively over me, and to shave every hair off his body – which was meticulously booth-tanned, except for two snow-white crescent moons under his butt cheeks.
Defrocked, he looked as close to Michelangelo’s David as any human I’ve ever seen. And just below his right hip were tattooed two religious symbols, the kind usually seen embroidered in gilt finery on altar cloth.
Oh, I’ll never forget the first time he whipped out his chalice. It was sizeable; plated in gold and carved with images depicting various Biblical stories. He kept it in a special case under his bed, along with several elaborate, gilded, lacy vestments – which he insisted on modeling for me.
He liked to discuss Scripture while we cuddled after sex, Catholic catechism the likes of which I hadn’t heard since grade school; and probe my spiritual experience. He sometimes became baffled and enraged that I would want to devalue even a moment of our time together with alcohol.
But he had a way of talking, soft and reverent – presumably the same voice he used in the confessional booth – that smacked of intimacy, and emotional intelligence, and wisdom; the depths of which a hedonistic sinner like me could only imagine. Of course he also had a way of sulking like a petulant child and spitting like a viper when I failed to measure up to his expectations of the kind of woman he’d prayed God would send to him. One flippant and irreverent comment could derail him for days.
So, you know. It wasn’t dull.
Three weeks into our relationship, he had me close my eyes for just a moment. When I opened them, I found a giant chocolate-chip cookie with red and green frosting that read “Happy Holidays” lying next to me on the bed, and him on his knees with a wedding band in a jewelry box, asking me to marry him.
Taped inside the lid was a black and white photo of him, taken 10 years earlier. A smiling, virginal Glamour-Shot image of him in his priest’s collar, fresh out of seminary school, that still doesn’t fit inside the velvet casing – no matter how many times I snap it shut.