A phone conversation.
Caller: Oh, you did answer! Mr. Nelson, I have Monsignor Mussorgsky on the line, please hold on.
Msgr: Hello? Can you hear me now? (Laughter)
Me: Yes Monsignor, may I ask what this is all about?
Msgr: Oh, Mr. Nelson, you did answer the phone. wonderful, yes, His Eminence asked me to phone you for a short interview, would you be so kind...
Me: Monsignor, which Eminence and an interview about what?
Msgr: Oh, I'm so sorry, I should have explained myself better, didn't my secretary brief you first? Well, Cardinal Levada has been reading your blog and would like me to speak with you about your, er, ah - Catholic weblogs.
Me: You mean the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith has questions about my orthodoxy? Wow - that is so cool, is torture involved? Can I wear one of those yellow cone hats and be stretched out on a.........
Msgr: (Laughter) Oh no Mr. Nelson, it isn't that at all. (More Laughter, covers the phone and says something inaudible.) May I call you Terry?
Me: Please do Monsignor. I like the name Terrance, but you may call me Terry. Funny, when I was younger I wanted the name Ian, but of course I'd never change my name - too complicated I'm afraid, yeah, my friend Bob changed his name to Roberto - he's Italian - and.......
Msgr: Excuse me Terry, this is long distance from Rome and it's getting late, if you wouldn't mind, I'd like to get on with the interview.
Me: Oh, no Monsignor, I'm sorry, I'm not used to talking on the phone so I'm not sure who talks when or how much to say.... But before we get going, let me say this: I am not Larry Craig, nor have I ever been Larry Craig! (I'm laughing really hard after I say that.)
Msgr: (Silence, muffled sounds, as if he is talking to someone else.)
Me: Monsignor? Monsignor? I'm sorry about that. Larry Craig is a politician who had been involved in a scandal and local news is doing a segment on him, and they keep repeating the sound bite he made, "I am not g------"
Msgr: Terry, Terry, that's quite all right. Now we notice you have two blogs and both claim to be Roman Catholic, is that correct.
Me: Again, I apologize - when I get really nervous I just repeat things I hear. Anyway. Yes - well I had four blogs, no 5 blogs, and now I have 3, but the main two are the Abbey-Roads two - the other one is just a file for photos and lame attempts at poetry.
Msgr: That is interesting. The Abbey blogs are the only ones we read here at the Vatican.
Me: So you really read my blog there? I thought it was just Fr. Z reading it when he's at the Vatican Library reading the newspaper.
Msgr: Huh? who is Fr. Z? No, we read your blog periodically, don't you check your stats?
Me: Well not really, I have a neo-counter, but nothing else, I have no idea who reads my blog otherwise.
Msgr: Well Terry, we've noticed that one day you will have a post up and then the next time we check, the post is taken down. It is a little disconcerting, especially when we happen to be following comments others leave. Could you explain why you do that?
Me: Of course, I take them down if they are too controversial, or after thinking about what I wrote, I decide the topic isn't meaningful. I don't know - maybe I just think the post didn't work. Or if I do a post I think is funny, say exposing another blogger's drunken Lindsay Lohan fashion blunders at the races, and she doesn't respond laughing out loud, I usually take it down.
Msgr: What are you wearing right now?
Me: I'm wearing a sleevless sweatshirt torn down to my navel and ripped blue jeans and - what? Hey! Who is this? What kind of question is that?
Msgr: (Laughing, hand muffling the phone.) I'm just kidding too Terry. Just teasing. We at the Congregation have a crazy sense of humor - even Galileo thought so.
Me: (Nervous laughter) Oh - I get it - I think....
Msgr: Yes Terry, we do have our fun here too. But seriously, is that you in the profile photo? Is it a current pho.......
Me: (Laughing) I'm certain you have more serious questions... may we just move this along right now?
Msgr: Well frankly Ter, the Congregation wants to know... Well, the Congregation has noticed you write an awful lot about... I'm sorry, the Congregation has noticed you write rather extensively about... well, I'll just blurt it out! Chapel veils for women who wear denim jumpers. And we wondered if you wouldn't like to do a little manual for proper attire at Mass for women and men in the United States?
Me: Are you serious? I'd jump at the chance! I can see it now - very Vogue/Harpers/Vanity Fair type photography and graphics - Paper! The best paper - very important for crispy print and photos to look good. Annie Lebowitz - she must do the shoot! top models wearing th..............
Msgr: Terry, fine, fine - we will go over the details later, what we need is the text first. I'd also like to ask a few more questions, covering some other topics, if you have time right now.
Me: Oh certainly Monsignor, go right ahead.
Msgr: The Congregation has noticed you are writing a sort of memoir. First let me tell you, we are all very sorry, it's not coming off as funny as you thought it would is it?
Me: Gosh! I know! It is really a lot of work - comedy is hard.
Msgr: His Eminence is more than a little concerned about how much involvement, or rather, will there be anything surprising coming out of the story about priests or religious? Any scandalous items, and more importantly, we hope to make sure of no liability on the part of the................
Me: Oh Monsignor, I can assure you - whaddya mean - liability? Would you pay me off? Would you pay me for the book rights? Hey what kind of a cheap------------I can't beieve you'd suggest such a thing.
Msgr: (Dead silence)
Me: No Monsignor, I am not like that - neither will I be bought off. All I can say - the Church has nothing to worry about from me.
Msgr: That is good to hear, Terry. Can you tell me this however; does your story have anything to do with the recent abuse crisis that has afflicted the American clergy?
Me: Monsignor, Didn't you just ask me that question? Monsignor, I'm afraid I can't answer that, I can't give away the details. Everyone will just have to read along as I post the story.
Msgr: Well thank you Terry. Now, don't forget, start on that chapel veil thing as soon as possible. Chop! Chop! Bye, bye now!
End of conversation.
After we hung up, I thought to myself, 'That was an odd conversation.'