PITTSFIELD — I was talking to a friend just before Christmas about when we were little kids and we had to actually make sins up at confession.

I'm sure this has more resonance for kids growing up in the '60s and '70s in small towns like Adams. But I also think it's fairly universal.

The thing is, the nuns at St. Thomas pounded into us how important confession was to cleanse our souls. No problem there.

My problem was, as a (very) skinny, nerdy little kid, I didn't do much wrong. I didn't really do much of anything growing up, come to think of it. Read, watch TV, go to school, sleep. The opportunities for sin were thin in those days.

But heck, I couldn't tell THAT to a priest! I knew I wasn't perfect. So I had to come up with something.

It was pretty much the same mantra every week: Kneel down, take a deep breath, and go. "Bless me Father for I have sinned; it has been one week since my last confession. These are my sins: I swore, I lied, I hit my sisters."

Bazinga. That was it. Problem was, in those days, I didn't know many, if any swear words, I prided myself, even then, on always being honest and goodness gracious, I would certainly never hit my younger sisters.

The potential moral dilemma, by the way, of lying to a Catholic priest about my sins in confession never occurred to me. Good thing.

I remember at one point, during our religious education classes at the church on Saturday, a nun reminded us that it was easy to fall into a habit of being disrespectful to our parents. That, she said, is a sin.


Hmm. That could be another sin! I thought. Although I abandoned it as a potential fake sin after maybe a week.

That's because being disrespectful to my mother offended me so much that I couldn't even say it. Being disrespectful to my father, a former semi-pro football lineman, only happened once, a story I've told at least once before, which resulted in having my head nearly knocked off.

I also remember hearing how laziness was also a sin. That had potential, but since I wasn't particularly lazy, that didn't have much traction.

Ditto sloppiness. The problem with that was that mom laid out my clothes every day until I was a senior in high school.

Yes, even during the summer.

The only sin connected to that story is what a bum I looked like my senior year. Remember the punk look? I invented it before anyone ever heard of the Sex Pistols.

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.