40. Car Keys: Write about someone getting their driver’s license for the first time.
I don't want to write about this. It just doesn't interest me. I'm forty-five and cannot drive and sincerely believe that I would never be able to drive. That's not strictly accurate. I believe I could master the physical skills of pedal pressing and turning a wheel. Eventually. I wouldn't be great at coordinating everything at once. I'd be dangerous though. Combining the physical skills with travelling at speed in an environment where I have to notice lots of external factors and take them into account would be almost impossible for me. My brain refuses to work in such a way. Put me behind the wheel of a car and if we were all very lucky only the car and a building I collided with would suffer damage. If we were unlucky people would be hurt or killed. Unfortunately knowing that I would never be able to safely command a motor vehicle is not the same as having a quantifiable ailment through which I would be medically exempted from driving.
I do have a driving licence though. Licence. With two Cs. Because I'm British and that word is real no matter what the computer is currently telling me. My licence is probably out of date and it's certainly not acceptable as a form of identification. It's only a provisional licence and it's twenty-five years old. It's not my name. There's no photo. And only a full licence is valid anywhere. I never took a driving lesson. I never will. So that's one less thing you have to worry about. Clare will not be running you over. You may relax and stop losing sleep over her poor driving skills.
Instead of writing about car keys, scraped along the side of every posh person's car by a jealous teenager, scraped along the side of every old banger too by a malicious idiot, lost and found after fervent prayers to Saint Anthony, mixed in a bowl at a wife swapping party ... hey, that's sexist isn't it? The result of a patriarchal society. Why isn't it ever referred to as a husband swapping? It's almost as if, underlying the terminology, there's a view that wives are property. "I own you wife and tonight I'm going to swap you for the wife Jack owns. I get to have fantastic sex with Frida whose body I've coveted for months and Jack gets to do what he wants with you and I don't care how warty he is and how his halitosis is the subject of medical papers." In practice it's not like that of course although ending up having to screw Jack wouldn't be an ideal evening for anyone. Frida probably looks forward to the parties and would probably divorce Jack - they have other issues too beside bad breath and warts - were it not for the fact that Jack is a multi-millionaire and Frida has found a way to make his life shorter. A lot shorter. Wife swapping is also a very heterosexual thing. Just imagine the chaos if a couple of queer couples were accidentally invited and they only went along because they hoped Lucius would be showing something from his collection of old Italian movies. Most queer couples wouldn't go to such a party on purpose because, contrary to some stereotyping, most queer people aren't promiscuous. There's a Christian tract telling you how evil it is to be gay because gay men on average sleep with a couple of thousand other men. Well maybe a few of them do. But I bet they don't need car keys and the language of ownership in order to enjoy themselves.
What I wonder is whether any outwardly devout Catholic couples have ever had to pray and pray and pray some more to Saint Anthony when they realise they can't find their car keys on the evening of a wife swapping party.
A greater question is whether Saint Anthony would reveal the keys' location in full knowledge this would lead to a bit of consensual adultery.
Or would this be a lost cause? Perhaps a prayer to Saint Jude would be needed too. Jude is meant to deal with lost causes. Get him onto the case. "Holy Saint Jude I beseech thee, listen to my prayer. Saint Anthony is refusing to pass over my car keys but I covet my neighbour's wife. I covet all my neighbours' wives. Phwoarrr! Especially Frida and I'm sure you understand that don't you? She's a right stunner. O Jude I pray thee in this lost cause, get Anthony to reveal to me the location of my car keys so that I may bring the wife who is legally my property and who promised to obey me when we got married and I may loan her to another man. I pray too that you place your holy hands into the bowl of car keys so that I may draw out Jack's keys and may lie with Frida and have a bloody good night. Blessed be the name of the Lord!"
Jude would be sitting in heaven hoping for a night off. He's got plans. He was going to take the saints from Fatima to the new bowling alley founded by Confucius. Sister Lucy was quite confused about it all. She wondered how Confucius had got to be in heaven when for all her life she was taught that without following her version of the God story you wouldn't be let in. The children, Francisco and Jacinta, didn't seem worried by such technicalities and anyway Confucius was a great guy, fun to have around and when he told his stories people couldn't stop laughing. Jude and Lucy were having a bit of a fling. It was enjoyable and when you've got to put up with living in one place for eternity a love affair is just the thing to stave off a deep depression.
And then the call comes on his prayer bell. Jude groans and answers his prayer phone. "Hey, hi Jude, this is the Almighty speaking. There's a swinger down there who's not getting enough of the sex he wants. Can you look into it and solve his lost cause? I don't really approve but rules are rules."
So Jude has to look into it. He doesn't want to risk the wrath of an angry God. Terrible things happen when God gets into one of his moods. And it turns out that Anthony is pretending to be holier-than-thou again in not handing over a set of car keys. Jude knows he has to deal with it even though Anthony might be stubborn. And Frida is even prettier than Lucy.
The argument that raged between the two saints. "Anthony, you're being an idiot. You know you're meant to find lost things. If you start intentionally concealing them God's going to rip your name from the book of patrons. You'll be demoted. You'll be forced to scrub the pearly gates every day and Peter will keep telling you "You missed a bit." Just do it."
"But if I give him his keys he's planning on breaking a commandment. I can't let him do that."
"Stuff and nonsense man. That's his choice. Your choice is to do your job. If he wants to sleep with Frida well really who can blame him. I'd recommend taking it up with God if you're unhappy. And while you're at it you can raise the big matter of the oppressive patriarchy. Lucy's at me all the time to do something about that and I keep telling her that I'd sort it but it's not quite a lost cause so it's none of my business."
Eventually Saint Anthony gives in. He grumbles a lot about it but gives up the keys. The man is so happy. But when Jude puts his hand in the bowl to guide the man to Jack's keys Saint Anthony appears unexpectedly and nudges Jude. The man ends up with Robert's keys. Why do they continue to let Robert come to these parties? Because it's his house.
Robert's wife is ninety-eight years old. She's not up to sex.
All she wants is for a man to come and read her a Barbara Cartland novel for the evening.
I don't have car keys. As such swingers' parties are closed to me. That's fine by me. I wouldn't want to attend them. I don't really understand them. There is much about people's attitudes to sex I don't understand. Most people at those parties wouldn't want me to be there either. They might have slight worries about an asexual transgender lesbian with a penis turning up and forcing them to have a single evening of absolute chastity and celibacy. Apologies about the title. It was an alternative fact. Or a fiction as such things used to be called. A deliberate deception. I have never been to such a party. I apologise sincerely. That apology was also an alternative fact.
I don't pray to Anthony or Jude either. Even when I was a devout Catholic I didn't pray to them. There were saints I asked to pray for me and at the time I believed they would hear me and ask God to help me. Faustina, Therese, Teresa, Juan de Cruz, Louis Marie, Ignatius. They were my saints of choice. The only times I ever prayed to Anthony were in front of the Saint Anthony of Padua national shrine which is in a church in Crawley. I honestly wasn't worried about being heard and wasn't expecting big blessings by reverently kissing his relic.
But if I was a sex loving devout Catholic who disregarded church teaching on sexuality and marriage and who lusted after a woman like Frida. If I was. I'd just have to get myself some car keys and trick my way into that party with the help of Jude. I'd need a lot of help from Jude. It would take a bloody miracle!