When I started dating Joe, I was new at the whole dating thing. I guess I’d always figured that when you date someone, you’re their biggest fan, all the time. It never really registered completely that you can love someone and still absolutely hate what they’re doing in some moments.
In hindsight, I should have known that was the case. I have parents and they’d been married for fifteen years or so at the time, so you can bet there were some things they didn’t much care for about each other. I remember in particular my mom being beside herself on more than one occasion that my dad would read the newspaper and then get newspaper fingerprints all over everything.
With Joe, it was Prayer Voice.
I met Joe in church, so prayer was, at some point, going to be a part of our relationship. It might have been sooner rather than later, except that Joe wasn’t what you’d call a regular church attendee until he and I started dating in the fall. So I’d known him for months the first time I heard him pray out loud.
Ok, praying out loud in front of other people is weird anyway. I’ve always thought so. I mean, it’s like you’re asking people to eavesdrop on your conversation with God. Or you’re performing this private ritual in public so that other people will know how tight you are with the Big Man. I know that’s not why everyone does it, but it just gives me the yucks.
So let’s add on to that the fact that I was 14 years old at the time, pretty much terrified of any public speaking (and public praying totally counts), and was also prone to dying of embarrassment on behalf of other people. I assumed that everyone did or should feel a little weird about praying in public.
You know how some people have “I’m Actin’ Here” voice? When they’re playing a role, they affect a pseudo British accent and enunciate things a little differently and add in pauses and flourishes in strange places. You know, right?
Joe did “I’m Actin’ Here” voice when he prayed. His voice got lower and louder and he aspirated his t’s more, in a not-subtle way.
The first time I heard him pray, I almost expired on the spot. I’m not sure if I was more embarrassed that: a) He wasn’t embarrassed to pray in public; b) He was using “I’m Actin’ Here” voice to talk to God (quelle sin); or c) Everyone else would know he was using a voice that wasn’t his real one and they would somehow know that he was being insincere. It was a very uncomfortable two minutes or so.
After that, I pretty much just tried to avoid situations where I’d have to hear him pray aloud. I couldn’t always do it, because, you know, it was church and all. I never got used to it, though. To this day, even remembering the sound of those aspirated t’s makes me squirm and wish for death, or at least a quick end to the memory.
Loved the guy. Couldn’t stand to hear him pray out loud.