Dubbed "Twitter's poet laureate" by the Daily Dot, Patricia Lockwood is one of the internet's funniest, wittiest, and most beloved writers. Her devastating 2013 prose poem "Rape Joke" was the rare instance of a contemporary poem heard round the world—or at the very least social media—a piece that New York's Kat Stoeffel called "the final word in the rape-joke debate, if we can call it that."
Her poems have appeared in such hallowed halls as the New Yorker and Poetry, but the 34-year-old Indiana native is also the only writer I'm aware of who has gotten both the Paris Review and TJ Maxx to respond to tweets, persuading the former to actually review Paris (the verdict: "It's pretty good!").
VICE is proud to present an exclusive excerpt from her hilarious upcoming memoir, Priestdaddy, out from Riverhead in May 2017.
—James Yeh, culture editor
MILFs and the Seminarian
Somehow or other, the seminarian has heard about MILFs and he is haunted by the concept. He fears hordes of MILFs are roaming the plains of dating, simultaneously breastfeeding and trying to trick young men into having sex with them. "Are MILFs something that's popular in secular culture for guys in their 20s to go after?" he asks.
"Yes," I say gravely, signaling Jason across the room to write that quote down word for word. "Very, very popular. The most popular thing now."
His eyes widen and he crosses his legs, as if to protect his holy jewels from the very notion of a MILF. I consider other possible lies to tell him.
In Britain they call them nummy mummies, and due to the gender imbalance left over from the Great War, there are two of them for every male.
There's no way of telling whether your own mother is a MILF, but if she likes to play bingo, it's almost certain.
The wine of Italy is stomped out by MILFs, so when you taste the wine, you are tasting their desire.
During the full moon, a MILF lactates a powerful sex milk that is instantly addictive to any man who tries it.
He interrupts my reverie to explore the subject further. "What's the difference between a MILF and a cougar?"
"Cougars are… hornier," I say, thinking fast. "A MILF doesn't have to be horny at all, it just has to be a Mom You'd Like to F, but a cougar is horny, and it prowls."
"So disordered," the seminarian breathes. Calling people "disordered" is practically his favorite thing to do, and a tawny animal woman who chases after tender cubs is about as disordered as it gets. "I hope I never meet one."
I get very close to his face and fix him with my most feline expression. "Too late, buddy. You already have."
Gay Inkblots and the Seminarian
I want to take the Gay Inkblot Test so bad I can taste it. According to my father, they administer an inkblot test to all the men who are studying to become priests in order to determine whether they're possessed by the handsome little demon of Same Sex Attraction. (He refers to it as SSA, both for jauntiness and to save time.) I'm not sure whether the inkblots themselves have been somehow designed to be gay—balls everywhere, kaleidoscopic bursts of abs, the words "I'M GAY" doing backflips in the ink, a dong on the classic Rorschach butterfly—or whether they just expect people to see gay things in them. Either way, the test cannot be categorized as either scientific or sane, but my father places great faith in it.
"It's foolproof," he tells me, with the self-satisfaction of a man who knows he would pass. If he took the test, he would see only Batmobiles, but these guys would see the naked body of Robin. His beliefs about homosexuality are in general keeping with those of the church, with a few small but distinctive flourishes of his own. Earlier this week, for instance, he informed me Elton John became gay because he was "raised by too many aunts."
When the seminarian took the inkblot test, he saw bunnies. "You saw… bunnies?" I ask. "Bunnies are fine," he says with authority.
"Bunnies are very wholesome. What you DON'T want to see is half-animal half-humans. That would show you were messed up." Apparently, regular bunnies are just evidence you love Easter, but woe to the one who looks into the ink and sees a rabbit with the luscious lower half of a man.
Important: Do you understand how badly I would fail this test? I would get something worse than an F. But my father refuses to even let me look at the Gay Inkblots. He's afraid of what he might find. He knows he was saved from ever seeing me bring home a girl named Boots with screws in her ears for one reason and one reason only: Because I got married when I was 21 to a man I met in cyberspace.
"We don't know if it works on women," they say cautiously, when I raise the subject amid the happy family clamor of the dinner table.
"That's not… we haven't studied that yet."
"In fact"—the seminarian sighs—"no one knows how lesbians work."
"It's easy," I say. "You put one leg over her leg, and then she puts her other leg over your other leg, and then you brush each other's hair forever while not going to church."
He rolls his eyes. "You're not a lesbian, Tricia," he tells me patiently. "You wear dresses."
"If you're so determined to figure out who's gay and who's not," I say to my father, "then why don't you ask someone who has actually met some gay people, gay people who haven't had to pretend their whole lives not to be gay?"
Gaydar is not real, and I hope never to be in the business of perpetuating crude stereotypes, but the priest who owns his own harp and gets ten different brown-bagged magazines about the royal family delivered to him each month? Is possibly not a straight man. But Dad assures me the Gay Inkblot Test is quite sufficient for their needs. So a word to my queer brothers who are longing for a life in the Church: You are safer than houses, for the time being. Go with God.
Pompom Hats and the Seminarian
A priest's uniform includes the following: a white collar, either cloth or celluloid. A black short-sleeve shirt, black slacks and black belt, black shoes. Black Gold Toe socks. No other kind of sock is even considered. Underwear, I think. They buy these items from a special Sacred Clothing catalog, which for some reason is illustrated with pictures of priests laughing insanely, raising crunk cups to Christ, and posing in close embraces. No one knows what they're doing, but they appear to be having just as good a time as the Victoria's Secret models. Pillow fights do not seem far away. When my father started saying the Latin Mass, he gave up the short-sleeve shirts and slacks and took to wearing a cassock, which is just a long black dress for a man that everyone refuses to call a dress. ("It is a dress," I have reiterated many times, trying to open people's eyes to the truth. "And the pope wears what a baby would wear to the prom.") The seminarian wears a cassock too, because he's traditional, and he asked for 33 buttons on his: one for each year of Jesus's life. On formal occasions, both of them affect a pompom hat, which has no utility as far as I can tell and which no one has ever been able to explain to my satisfaction.
"Really, a pompom hat?" I ask one day, when the seminarian and my dad are both sitting across the table from me decked out in their full regalia, looking like two dark Muppets from the realms of hell.
"It's not a pompom, it's a tuft," the seminarian tells me. "A pompom would be silly."
"We don't call it a hat, we call it a biretta," my father adds, his tuft going absolutely wild.
Ah. Why wear a regular hat, when you can wear a hat that sounds like a firearm. I begin flipping through the latest Sacred Clothing catalog and pause at a picture of a hundred-year-old priest and a 25-year-old priest spooning each other in front of a stained-glass window.
"Look at these incredible fantasy scenarios," I say, turning the picture sideways. "I'm taking this upstairs with me. This is my Playboy now." A few pages on, a photo of a female minister wearing vestments in all colors of the rainbow catches my attention. "Wait a minute, there are women in this?"
My father screws his eyes up very tinily, as if to cause the female minister and all others like her to disappear. "Those goofy Anglicans," he says, and then makes the distressing moo-cow noise he always makes when imitating the communications of feminists, who lurk in his imagination in rabid, milk-spurting, man-stampeding herds. "MooOOooo, we all gotta be equal, don't we?" he mocks, with such perfect assurance of my agreement that I wonder if he has ever really looked at me, or heard a single word I've ever said. Perhaps, when all is said and done, I am more like a son to him than a daughter.
From PRIESTDADDY by Patricia Lockwood. Published by arrangement with Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2017 by Patricia Lockwood.
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