Friday evening, I went to dinner at Suave, Manically Amusing Boy's (SMAB from now on) college. He met me on my way in, we had a glass of juice in the common room, then went on to dinner, which was lovely and included most of a bottle of wine. After that, we went back to the common room and started chatting away. Members of the college drifted through on their way to a party or on their way back from the gym, and it was all very pleasant.
He's my only South Asian male friend, so once he brought down some port and we really started to relax (he's only a recent addition to my friend circle), we started discussing our feelings around our Pakistani heritage/identities and our families.
The evening was going swimmingly till his phone rang and his face fell. "What's wrong, SMAB?" I asked.
"It's Religious Stalker Boy," he said. "He wants to come over with the rest of the Catholic Fanatic Society. I'm not going to answer it."
The phone rang again, and SMAB still didn't answer. "If it rings again," I said, "Let me answer it." He grinned.
As is often the way with these things, the phone was silent, except for a phone call from a friend whom he invited over.
The three of us were laughing away when up popped a number he didn't know. "I think this is for you," he said, handing me the phone. I put on my best girly, breathy voice and answered the phone...
"Erm, I'm afraid he's really busy at the moment. Can I take a message?" (Cue SMAB and friend burying their faces into pillows laughing their heads off.)
"Irim? Is this Irim?"
[Not an exact transcript, but pretty close]
I handed the phone back, and suggested that SMAB ring him back to find out who it was. He waited a while before he did, at which point, he discovered the caller was from the Catholic Fanatic Society. He told them he was 'in someone's room' and was going elsewhere shortly.
Not five minutes later, three members of Catholic Fanatic Society walked into the common room and sat down. Without asking, Gauche Boy put his feet up and picked up the second half of SMAB's KitKat.
What part of "I don't want you here tonight" did they not get? If I rang someone twice and they didn't answer, I'd LEAVE it, unless we were meeting up. If a male friend's phone was answered by a woman, I'd stammer and GET THE HELL OFF. Hell, if a woman answered MY BOYFRIEND'S PHONE, I'D STAMMER AND GET THE HELL OFF (after asking who she was). If someone told me they were going somewhere, I'd say, "OK, hope to catch you next week."
I WOULD MOST CERTAINLY NOT BE WANDERING AROUND THEIR COLLEGE HEADED TO THEIR COMMON ROOM. The violation of personal space and lack of respect for SMAB beggared belief. Yet they couldn't see that they had done anything wrong.
So when Gauche Boy accused me of "creating scandal" when I rightly suggested that a heterosexual entering the London Oratory would bring the whole institution down, I nearly whipped around and said, "It's nothing compared to the scandal of your lack of respect and charity for SMAB by sitting here eating SMAB's chocolate when you were clearly told your presence wasn't convenient."
But I kept my mouth shut, because it wouldn't have made a difference. They believe their preference for high liturgy and lace is what makes them truly Catholic. How they treat others doesn't matter.
And that's exactly the issue I have with most of the people who go to my church and some of the clerics I know.
At that moment, I realised I had the key to why I no longer feel Catholic.