Early in my junior year, my mother, in the throes of her Larry-generated Jesus frenzy, became deathly afraid that I was destined for Hell because I hadn't been baptized. Apparently you can't get into Heaven if you haven't been smeared in holy water. There were several reasons for being hellbound, but she wanted to be certain that her negligence wasn't one of them... much earlier she'd given up stopping me from listening to Satanic music or wearing shoes with holes in them. I thought it was absurd, and on principle I wasn't going to do it, but she pleaded with me enough so that I agreed to do it, solely to put her mind at ease. I told her this. We weren't getting along very well anymore and I wanted to do something for her, even if in her mind it was for me. Does a baptism count if you don't believe in it?
So she picked out a Lutheran church, seemingly at random, and made an appointment for me to go get it done. The pastor was slight of build, balding, but very sharp, like he worked in a technical field instead of leading people in hymns and assisting in their metaphysical dilemmas. He seemed bemused by the idea that I was only there to humor my mother. I wasn't going to lie to the man, and my mother didn't expect me to. That I'd be damned from not being baptized seemed dodgy, too. He asked me if this was what I really wanted, and I said yes, it was, because it was what my mother really wanted.
I'd gone with images of a guy in a robe dunking my head into the font, but in the end it was the pastor in shirtsleeves, prodding my forehead with a couple of damp fingers and asking God to take me when the time came. I really don't think it's going to come to that. Is there a statute of limitations for baptism? Like if you don't go into a church for seven years you're no longer a Christian?
Later on we were talking about one thing or another, and my mother asked me if I'd hooked up with the Lutheran church once I got back to Gainesville. I'd been given a card with the address, which I accepted politely but had no intention of using. The pastor wasn't an idiot; he knew I was just being nice. But my mother said, "I thought you were getting interested in going to church?" like surprised that I wasn't. I asked her what made her believe that, and she brought up the baptism. I had to remind her, as if I hadn't made it clear at the time, that I'd only done it for her benefit.