The primary motivation for me to go to church was candy. Children’s church had a contest that involved memorizing a bible verse and then the first kid that was called on that got it correct word for word would get the chance to stick his or her hand in the candy jar and pull out as big of a handful as possible. It was kinda like the candy crane, though. Get too cocky, and you could lose most of your haul.

Only one child per week could win, but I had three things working in my favor. The first was my addiction to candy. There was a period in my life where I averaged five – eight cavities every time I went to the dentist, and my teeth were the abused equivalent of a junkie’s track marked arms. The second thing I had working for me were my long, flexible fingers. I could snake my digits around the best prizes the candy jar had to offer and while other kids tried and failed for large grabs, I rarely missed my goals.

But none of that would matter if I couldn’t get to the jar in the first place. There were probably a good forty kids in children’s church, which meant I shouldn’t have really had the chance to get at the candy jar more than once or twice a year. But, as I mentioned, it was the first kid that recited the entire verse correctly that got the chance, which brings me to my third advantage.

While most children struggled with even the simple verse memorization, I busted my ass to make sure that even a thirty word old English King James monster was second nature so that even if a dozen kids got a shot before me and failed, I’d be waiting patiently knowing the pastor would call on my raised hand soon enough even though it might have been only a couple weeks since my last victory.

I usually got my shot even if I had to suffer through a bunch of kids wasting time attempting a challenge they were always woefully unprepared for. I think the children’s church pastor always enjoyed the fact that I had done my work and was happy to hook me up, but to make it fair, had to go through the process of giving others their chance. Gleefully and smugly I would hit nothing but net every time, the Michael Jordan of Bible verse memorization. Because there was candy on the line, and I fucking wanted it.