Dear College of Cardinals:
I appreciate your interest in having me assume the mantle of pope in the wake of Benedict XVI’s resignation, but I must decline for the following reasons:
1. I’ve been racking my brains to come up with a “pope-ular” name with no success. Apparently I can’t keep Christopher, patron saint of travelers, because pontiffs must always adopt new names (I’m waiting for Pope Super Bowl XLVII, myself) and because church officials took away Christopher’s feast day when I was a baby, allegedly after they discovered he wasn’t a real man and instead was only a legend.
Now, many people refer to my quasi-legendary status already — my wife is fond of saying I’m a legend in my own mind — but it still smarts to know that the guy your parents named you after has been downgraded. This must be how the Planet Formerly Known as Pluto felt when it was relegated to a mere chunk of interstellar debris.
2. I still owe another year on my 2009 Dodge Journey and don’t want to trade it in for a more expensive Popemobile, even though I hear the Official Car of the 21st Century Papacy™ comes with heated leather seats and bulletproof glass. If you could somehow make it submersible, so I could drive underwater, and paint it black like the Batmobile, I might be willing to reconsider.
3. I would have to change my Twitter account. Granted, cschillig has fewer than 300 followers (and most of those are robots or institutions), but I’ve grown fond of it and wouldn’t want to swap for an official Vatican handle, even if it came with the promise of a million-plus followers.
Furthermore, I doubt the Holy See would be too understanding if Pope Schillig started tweeting about movies and comic books. “God bless Quentin Tarantino” would probably get me brought up on heresy charges at worst or grounded from the Popemobile at best
4. I don’t think I could jog very well in a shoulder-to-ankle vestment. Nuff said.
5. I would have to move to Rome and learn a new language, which would take time away from my graduate studies in Pig Latin.
6. I would have to talk to many people who disagree with my message. As a teacher in civilian life, you’d think I would be used to this, but I’m not. And swapping lessons from “no apostrophe in Presidents Day” and “avoid run-on sentences” to “no condoms in Africa,” “no meat on Fridays” and “no women priests” wouldn’t do much for my self-esteem.
7. The thought of carrying a big, ornate shepherd’s crook is tempting. There are a lot of people I’d like to smite in this world, believe me, but nobody takes you seriously when you smite without a big, ornate stick. (That’s why I’m not allowed back in Rite Aid.) Still, I’m afraid that if I had access to one regularly, I’d smite so many people that it would be scandalous.
8. The headgear. Man, the headgear. I mitre get made fun of when I’m out with the guys.
9. My marriage. I would have to get a divorce and an annulment to become pope, which wouldn’t make me very popular with family and friends. Plus, my wife would get half of everything, so you’d have to draw a line down the middle of Vatican City and give her 50 percent. Since VC is already the smallest sovereign nation, I don’t think its residents would appreciate having their living space divided in two, nor would they like seeing the Pope’s things thrown out a window or stacked on the curb. (If they even have curbs in Italy.)
Thanks again for the consideration. When the white smoke flies, I hope maybe you can make room for me in some other capacity. If the new pope needs a court jester or an official driver (especially for that Popemobile), keep me in mind.
@cschillig on Twitter
Originally published Feb. 21, 2013, in The Alliance Review.