|Jesus Christ, what a smile|
I checked in and sat down. I couldn’t help but glance at her again, and she sensed my interest. She smiled at me a second time, bigger and even more Jesus-y than before. She wore a name badge that announced she belonged to an organisation called JesusCristo. She had a bible open on her lap, in which she was highlighting passages in yellow, and a pad for taking notes, but her epic smile and the way she caught my eye made it clear she would eschew her studies in an instant to talk about only one thing with a waning soul like mine. Jesus. Baby Jesus. Miracle-touting Jesus. Big grown up Jesus nailed to a cross. Jesus: the comeback.
In theory, the girl was physically attractive, although she had done what was evangelically necessary to abjure all consciousness of fashion. The shoes alone could have reduced one of Caligula’s drunken gatherings to a procession of flaccid, toga-clad revellers apologetically shuffling out the door and muttering that for some reason they just weren’t up for it tonight. The skirt might as well have borne a logo stating, “Lockdown. Will open only for The Second Coming.” The Son of God is in for a treat when he grooves back down to our humble planet, provided he’s got a thing for high-collar blouses and frowsty cardigans.
I buried my head in my book, fearing conversation more than the wrath of our creator. But Bible-humpers have a sixth sense when it comes to attempting conversions. It has to be an easy kick, directly in front of the goalposts. If they can’t sniff out some kind of vulnerability – a recent bereavement, an addiction, a severe medical condition, or chronic loneliness – then they swiftly lose interest. The girl instinctively knew that, for her purposes, I was a hopeless case. That any conversation would not lead to my salvation and the approval of her peers at JesusCristo, but a circular dialogue in which an unyielding smartarse twat from England would try what he always does – the reverse conversion. To see those flat blue shoes with the flower motif replaced by shiny black stilettos sharper than a church steeple (success rate so far: 0).
A companion evangelist emerged from the surgery and they left to big smiles all round, except for me. I was ignored, already lost. Then it was my turn to be called by the receptionist, and I headed for the dental seat to face anaesthetic needles and whirring drills. No doubt a little taster for the long term hell that awaits the damned.