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When people ask me of my religion, it's a hard question to answer. I sound much like a rich girl with a purse dog ordering a soy mochaccino with extra foam and sprinkles, or whatever such puppy-toting, fortunate people purchase at coffeehouses.

“Oh, I'll have the Atheist – no, the Agnostic, with Borderline Existentialist on top.”

And much like the girl ordering a complex deathtrap of sugars, I get stared at. Even when I shorten my order, hoping to add in the extras on my own time, I still feel their eyes on me. I don't see anything wrong with my metaphoric black coffee, but apparently, others do.

Growing up in a Christian family in a Christian town, in a Christian area isn't the most pleasant experience, even for a Christian. Somehow, despite all the churches, there's a pretty big drug problem around, and a lot of hate. Maybe because of the churches. There's no telling which came first around here – the faith or the hate. For a non-Christian, no matter what your beliefs are, it's hell. And if you don't believe in an afterlife, it's being glued to the couch, watching a marathon of bad romantic comedies, the remote just out of reach. Annoying at times, but not lethal. Sometimes you can tune it out, but not always.

Because the area is mostly Christian, people don't feel bad about bringing their views into things they shouldn't, particularly education. As a young kid, I was completely unaware it was possible to not be a Christian. Our colouring contests and connect-the-dots in class depicted religious scenes, like the birth of Jesus. They played only Christmas songs at the annual Carol Sing-Along. At our public school graduation, a local reverend led us in prayer, praying to his God, without even acknowledging most of those of other religions. By then, I'd finally come to grips with the fact that I couldn't bring myself to drink my coffee how they did, and was unsure what to do. At first, I was caught off guard and looked around, finding a few others doing the same. I bowed my head and closed my eyes, not wanting to be disrespectful.

This year, at a Remembrance Day assembly, a man led us in prayer. But before he did, he addressed the room, saying he would pray to his God, and encouraging us to pray to whatever deity we believed in, if we believed in any at all. I smiled. It makes me happy whenever someone accepted another's beliefs, because at this point, I'd experienced quite a lot of closed-minded people with a wide variety of beliefs. Really, we're all in the same coffeehouse, and after the same thing, basically. Coffee.

For most of my life, I tried drinking regular coffee. But it didn't fit. I was miserable, because I was led to believe how I felt was wrong, and that I was the only one who felt that way. No way I could voice it. I just had to order that regular coffee. Slowly, I became aware of the rest of the menu, and spent years studying it, trying the different blends. Only one stuck.

But people don't know about my research. Many assume I believe what I do out of ignorance of their beliefs. After all, who could try that regular and not make it their usual order? How could anyone pass up their decaf? Even my own father thought I was ignorant. While I haven't read every holy book cover to cover, I've finished at least one cup of every blend. I know my coffee is the only one for me.

Recently, I was told by someone I care about that they feel bad for me for my lack of faith. I'd bowed my head while this person prayed before meals, and sympathized with his beliefs. Then he found out about my order. I don't think he remembered my tolerance of his beliefs when he implied I'm to be pitied for my religion. I've heard it before, and worse. After all, I'm the metaphoric rich girl with a bag full of beagle and an order that takes longer to say than to fill.

Most people don't look at me strangely for my taste in coffee, but there still are some who do, and it's not an enjoyable experience. I hate to be a Positive Polly, but I do hope someday we'll all accept each other under the roof of the coffeehouse. No matter what someone may order, be it Asexual, Asatru, or Ailurophile. Everyone's got a quirk. Everyone's a black sheep in some field. It's only a matter of time before we all accept each other's black wool.





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