"When I saw all the hair, I knew it was you," said Sister. "Come in. Are you pregnant?"
"No," I said. "Are you praying?"
"Are you praying? You should be praying to Saint Gerard. How old are you?"
I told her how old I was. There was a pregnant pause.
"Huh," she said.
For once she had minced words.
Sister stuck me in the sitting room to watch the Cardinal on TV while she changed for an appointment. The interviewer asked the Cardinal the questions viewers called in.
"They're asking him about hockey," I said when Sister came back in. "They want to know what can be done about the Leafs."
"They should be asking him about p*rn," said Sister. "They should be asking him what can be done about p*rn destroying marriages."
Sister works in the Marriage Tribunal, so I turned around and looked at her, interested.
"Is it a big problem? I've read it is a big problem---."
"Oh, Seraphic," said Sister. "It's HUGE. I get all these people in my office. It's an epidemic. And somebody should tell these people. The women. Somebody should tell the women what a big problem it is. BEFORE they get married. They should be talking about this in marriage prep."
She looked a bit abashed.
"I know you don't want to spend marriage prep talking about negative stuff, but this is a serious problem, and we have to talk about it."
"Well, I'll talk about it," I said. "I have a blog. I have a column. I can talk about it."
"These women...," said Sister. "You know in marriage you have to give your whole self to your spouse, but these women... They can't. They just can't because they're so... And you can see why. They talk to him about it, and he promises to give it up, and then they wake up in the middle of the night and there he is back on the computer with his... We have to talk about it."
"This must be a new problem," I said. "It wasn't always so easy for men to get p*rn."
"New?! It's been, what is it, twenty, twenty-five years now. And we're seeing hundreds of couples... It's an epidemic. I'm telling you, we have to talk about it."
"So how old are these guys?" I asked. "I guess they're not fifty."
"No not fifty. It's the younger ones. The younger ones are using it. They're all using it."
"And they're addicted?"
"Sure, they're addicted!"
And once again I felt that my generation got shafted, and so did yours. Although, to be fair, we can't blame Boomers for this as much as we can blame the inevitable march of technological progress. Almost as soon as photography was invented, there were dirty photographs. Almost as soon as the web was invented, there was internet p*rn. But what we didn't know then, as we know now, is that porn can be as addictive as crack cocaine, and all those taboos against children and teens seeing porn were not prudery but common sense.
Fortunately, it is still possible to choose to avoid p*rn--and will be as long as we make sure the laws protecting us from it are still in force. I am on the web every day, and I never see any. Television is more difficult, for British standards are more degraded than those in Canada and the USA. However, a gentle request to B.A. ("Change the channel!!!") clears up that problem. A more pressing problem in the McAmbrose household is the amount of food and drink we consume.
The National Health Service in Britain is obsessed with food and drink. When B.A. and I signed up at our local office, the nurse wanted immediately to know how much we drank and how much we weighed, in that order. B.A. got a lecture about how much he drank, but not much about his weight. I got a pass on how much I drank, but got stick about my weight. This is because alcohol and overeating account for most of the health problems in Scotland.
We could take a cue from the Scottish NHS. If it is true that internet p*rn accounts for serious problems in Catholic marriages, then we really do need to talk about it and warn Catholic teenagers that this is a problem that can destroy their marriages and families. We tell them how dangerous chemical stimulants are, so we should tell them how dangerous visual stimulants can be. We manage to get across the message that crack and heroin are dirty, so maybe we could once again get across that p*rn is dirty too.
As for you girls, if you're addicted to the stuff, you know you should quit because it is not harmless. It will affect your sexual mental health and therefore any future marriage. And if you are wondering if the Nice Catholic Boy you've seeing exclusively uses the stuff, you should ask him. I wouldn't make a big deal out of it, but if marriage-type stuff is being discussed, that would be one topic to raise. I think I said at some point that (among other things) our home would be a p*rn-free zone, and B.A. agreed.
Begin, they say, as you mean to go on. Don't think it isn't a problem for Catholics and others of Good Will because it is.