Time passed. Grist graduated high school as a C-student. He only had one C, in phys-ed, but that didn’t change the heart of the matter.
   At the prom, Grist didn’t get drunk and didn’t stick his hands under somebody’s dress. He didn’t think of this as a wasted opportunity: he was only seventeen, and his entire life, it seemed, was ahead of him. And so it was.
   He woke up late after his graduation and asked his mom and dad to sit on the living-room couch. They needed to have a serious talk.
   “Mom, dad, you’ve been asking me whether I’ve thought of going to college…”
   Grist’s mother gripped his father’s hand.
   “Yes, son,” said Grist’s father. “But your mother and I realize that you’re a grown man. You have the right to make your own choices. We’ll support whatever decision you make. However, I’d like to remind you that you’ll be eighteen in less than a month, and the army is, unfortunately, still mandatory.”
   “Yes, I know that, dad. I… mmm…”
   “Yes?” said Grist’s father encouragingly. His mother nodded.
   He could no longer avoid it.
   “Well, I decided to go to the seminary…”
   Grist’s mother gripped his father’s hand tighter. Heavy silence fell in the living-room.
   “Damn, son, I didn’t expect that from you,” said Grist’s father finally.
   “But why, honey?” asked Grist’s mother, her voice full of strain. “You know how your father and I feel about that stuff. A seminary! Useless! Forget useless – unhealthy! You’re a growing man, Grist. You can’t waste your life serving some God, even if, for the sake of argument –“ she glanced at Grist’s father apologetically – “he exists. You have to control your own fate, build your own life, instead of waiting for God to do it for you.”
   “And here I am,” said his father, his voice inching towards hysterical pitch, “trying to figure out why my son won’t shave his face! Look at him: peach fuzz all over his face. He’s seventeen, and he doesn’t even have a girlfriend, doesn’t go out…” He was gathering speed. “Grist, son, you don’t seriously want to be a hanger for a robe with no free will of your own, do you? Be a man, for God’s sake!”
   “Mom, dad, I made my decision. No use getting all worked up about it.”
   “He made his decision!” Grist’s mother was offended. “Look at him, he made his decision! How many times have we told you, you shouldn’t go looking for God while you’re so young. Can’t you understand, you – YOU – must build your own life! What do you need God for?”
   “What do I need God for?”
   Truth be told, Grist didn’t really know. All he knew was that religion fascinated him. He felt something, but didn’t know what that something was. Not even remotely.
And yet, he needed God for something.
   “Son, please, reconsider. As your father, I think you should study economics…”
Grist shook his head obstinately.
   “Would you stop shaking your head! Listen, who’s going to take over the business? Your mother and I won’t be around forever. And besides, I need an assistant, one of our own. You are my son!”
   “I don’t get it,” Grist’s mother interrupted. “How could this happen? How did you get this into your head, Grist? Your father and I have told you so many times, SO MANY TIMES, how we’d wasted two years of our youth begging God for help. And now we’re going to have a pope in our own family! Unbelievable.”
   Grist didn’t answer. Let them talk.
   “Grist, listen to me,” his father chimed in. “Let’s forget our own feelings about God. Let’s be objective for a moment. Seminary education is so impractical…”
   The word caught Grist’s attention. Yes, practicality was very important.
   “…If you really want to study religion and worship God, why don’t you do it when you’re older? Let’s be frank, Grist: you’re young; you have needs. Even if God exists, which your mother and I highly doubt; even if he really hears everybody’s prayers, which, as we’ve told you many times, he never heard when we were praying to him every day… so, even if we forget these two very important things and assume that he really exists – your needs, your very youth, will stop you from serving him! Think about it… and would you stop shaking your head already!” Grist’s father sighed in a brave attempt to steady himself. “Look, we’re all very upset right now. You think about what I told you. We’ll discuss this tomorrow. In the afternoon. Just think about it.”
   Grist’s father got up and helped Grist’s mother to her feet.
   “We’re going to the shooting range. Don’t wait up.”
   “I made meatballs,” said Grist’s mother. “They’re in the fridge. Warm them up before you eat them,” and she followed Grist’s father out of the apartment.
   Grist collapsed into an armchair and closed his eyes. Even though he thought his parents were wrong, he couldn’t help feeling like a traitor – which he most likely was. By telling his parents of his plans, Grist had hoped to feel relief, a catharsis of sorts. Instead, he felt like an immature idiot. But he would not give in to his parents.

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