For those of the Catholic Faith, this article is completely satirical and meant in good humor. If it offends, please use that wonderful sense of forgivenessyour religion provides for.
The Vatican is now the seat of Pope Francis, an Argentine priest with a penchant for poverty and the sort of progressive mentality one doesn’t usually expect from the Holy See. I went to see him this morning.
While queuing up in St. Peter’s Square, a shy, bronze-skinned, well-Nike’d Spaniard stepped in front of me on his way to a little pre-French Open blessing – think Rocky Balboa before the Creed fight and you get the idea. What happened next will explain the burden of Rafael Nadal’s obsessive-compulsive disorder. For journalistic integrity, I think it’s important to provide all of the details.
Rafael enters the Vatican and Father Francis emerges in full Papal gear. Francis gestures for Rafa to come over, but there are lines on the Vatican floor, and Rafa, not wanting to step on any of them, progresses toward Francis employing the navigatory wherewithal of an attention-deficit GPS. (Footnote 1 at bottom of page)
Eventually, Rafa reaches the holy man.
The Pope raises a hand to bless Rafa, and, well, we all know what happens when the poor kid is about receive, right? Nadal touches his ear-nose-ear-ear-nose-ear. Papa Frank, figuring the young man probably skipped Sunday school on his way to tennis practice and is confused in his genuflective efforts, tries to help Rafa out, crossing him once more. Rafa though, stuck in the sub-conscious Sahara where decisions are less made than automated, replies with another ear-nose-ear-ear-nose-ear sequence and P Frank is becoming visibly pissed.
Papa Frank raises his hand skyward and Rafa, now mortified by his own subconscious actions, thinks the Pope wants a high-five. He lifts his left hand toward the Popish palm, but before he can connect with the holy hand, his arm lassos above and behind his head with the sort of French Open-winning finish that only he can understand. The Pope, unfamiliar with Rafa’s technique, takes this as a high-five psych. Rafa reddens to the point where his facial hue matches the red clay of Rome.
Once again, Papa F blesses poor Rafael and you can almost see the pain in the Spaniard’s twitching face as his hands pass across his face, touching those now-calloused auricles and probiscus one more time. By now, Frankie’s face is turning purple and he’s beginning to shake, but being the compassionate and ever-forgiving representation of God on Earth, he performs the blessing one more time, praying with Papal power, that the boy will get it right. Rafa lifts a quivering hand, and for a moment, you get the sense that he just might overcome his need to move toward his ear. Even Big F is getting excited. Alas, the boy fails.
Unable to handle this heresy, PF goes into a full-bodied clench and gets his Papal robe stuck between his butt cheeks. He yanks at them, and Rafa, sensing an opportunity to show his respect, grabs at the back of his own shorts and yanks, smiling with satisfaction. Now, the two of them are standing there, one hand behind them holding a fistful of cloth, Rafa’s right hand going through some uncontrollable face-touching and Francis praying for forgiveness.
PFrancis, now over his vow of mercifulness and darn near ready to slap the kid, sprinkles Rafa with the Holy water. Rafa, overcome with horror about the water touching the ground, then tackles a small American woman, commandeers her water bottle, corrals the holy water, and sets the bottles (labels out) perfectly straight upon the Altar. Rafael then tilts his head southward, yells Vamos, flails his legs side to side and sprints out of the Vatican. Pope Francis issues a benediction to grand applause.
I am now headed back to Paris for the French. There is a rumor the Pope is coming to watch. They say Rafa is willing to move Heaven and Earth to win. We may just find out.
- For those who grew up in the eighties, there was a video game called Frogger where the gamer had to control a frog across a freeway of trucks and cars and the amphibian moved right, left, forward and back with uncommon irregularity. I was going to use this reference, but as I read it to my companion, she gave me a blank look, so I went with the ADHD reference instead. I still find the Frogger analogy better, but c’est la vie.