This is Why I’m Going to Hell

From my youngest years, I have vague memories of going to church: dancing in a weird costume for some reason, reciting the wrong prayer in place of the “our father”, using the “I brought this guy and he brought me” loophole to get a ‘bring a friend to church’ prize. Going to church, Sunday school, is something that I just did. My parents went to church, they took me, I believed what I was told. So is the basic belief structure and understanding that a small child has on religion, you believe in your parents and they believe in this.


We were young.

My brother was in the doorway of his bedroom at the end of the hall laughing with a friend. The way they were huddled indicated that something very interesting was occurring. Being the little brother to the older cooler brother, I needed to know what this funny, interesting thing was. There was a back to me, and my small self was trying desperately to see around, over, under, wherever I could to catch a glimpse. The moment I was discovered, the activity stopped.

What is it? What is so funny? I had to know.

My brother assured me in that brotherly way that it was nothing, and to leave them alone.

I pleaded, I begged, I must know this thing that is causing so much joy and elation

He said, “Fine,” adding, “But, you have to promise not to laugh.”

“Okay,” I affirmed

“You promise?” He asked, “Do you swear to God?”

“Yes!” I declared instantly.

“Say it,” he said, “Say, ‘I swear to God’”

“I swear to God,” I said.

Confident that I was on board, my brother proceeded.

Standing at his dresser, me in his doorway, my brother held up his thumb. He raised his hand and began to move his thumb downward toward the surface of the dresser top. An action that might suggest he was going to stick his thumb into some non-existent pie.

In the few moments that this was happening, I began to lose it. I felt the beginnings of a tremble in my belly. The trembling moved quickly to my chest. My throat. I placed both hands over my mouth to stifle.

My brothers’ thumb made contact. I struggled desperately to keep it together.

The thumb was on the dresser for no more than a second before I exploded into hysterical laughter.

My brother lifted his hand instantly and looked at me with a smirk.

“Now you’re going to hell.” He said.

“No I’m not, why?” I asked.

“Because you swore to god, and you laughed. You lied. You are going to go to hell when you die.”

“That’s stupid,” I said, and walked away.

That night, in the darkness, I couldn’t sleep. I sat awake thinking:

Swear to god. Do I swear to God? Why did I swear to God? This is stupid. How could I have messed up so bad? I’m going to hell. I’m going straight to hell when I die. It’s all over. He didn’t even do anything! Why did I laugh?!

I wept until my eyes were raw.

I fell asleep knowing that I was doomed to an eternity in hell.


As I have grown, I have come to realize that these things are not nearly as rigid and finite as a child may interpret them to be, and what was so real at the time was actually a very silly notion. I am now fairly certain that I am not doomed to an eternity of damnation. Though, it does sometimes humor me to think that at those pearly gates, as I peek over the pedestal at the logbook containing all of my trespasses, the thumb incident will be somewhere at the bottom.

Just what the hell was he doing with his thumb, anyway?


The Cereal Incident


Remember the days you could go to the grocer with your mother and rely on the cereal aisle to have box after box brandished with the words, and I’m paraphrasing here, ‘Free Toy Inside!’  Few and far between these days. I can remember hiding a box of Corn Pops under my bed overnight to be sure to get my hands on the sticky football that would tumble down any wall you chucked it at. (I was young, naive, and my brother already had one, so, fair play)

Furthermore.. do you remember the days that that fun toy was actually hidden, imbedded within the sweetness of the cereals for you to dig your hands in and excavate your prize? These days if you do luck upon a box with a toy inside, it is sealed in its own baggie, safely outside of the cereal bag itself. Now..I understand the modern desire to sanitise everything, but spelunking the box through masses of flakes or loops or puffs or what-have-you was one of the funnest parts of childhood. You earned that free toy inside. Allow me to tell you a story..



When I was four years old my mother brought a box of cereal home from the crunchly club.

The crunchly club is what, in my childlike innocence, I had dubbed “The Country Club”. A grocery store that once resided in the space that is now a Gold’s Gym just down the mall from Donatelli’s, near Century College. I’m sure many of you know the spot. As I recall I spent many-a-time side tracked from play, repeating those words, “crunchly club”, to my parentals, who assured me they weren’t laughing ‘at’ me.

The aforementioned box of cereal was a big box of the Cap’n. Cap’n crunch. So delicious, then and now. Of course, being the good old days, this box contained a free toy inside. A robot..which perhaps did something that I can’t recall. I wanted this robot.

Taking the box to my room I assured my mother I just wanted to look at the box.

“Just don’t open it” she said.

I closed the door. My first attempt to open a box of cereal culminated in an explosion of miniature yellow biscuits all over my childhood room.

I immediately started weeping uncontrollably, much like a four year old, which I was. Frantically, and in a panic, I started cramming handful after handful of cereal pieces and carpet fibers into the mangled bag and box, chanting a mantra of ‘mom is gonna be so mad at me’ ad nauseum.

When all was done I confessed my transgression to my mother between the dry hiccupy spasmic inhalations that only come to children after the most intense bouts of sobbing.

I never got the robot. To this day I’m not sure what it did, if anything,aside from being plastic and robot-y.

The cereal was likely tossed. Nobody should be eating that many foreign particles and carpet fibers.