Being a twisted little Irrelephant isn't easy. It's helped by the fact that I was raised Roman Catholic, and am therefore very prone to feelings of guilt, damnation, and I have an abnormally developed fear of women in black and white.
I was an altar boy for a very long time in grade school, too. And no, I was never molested, but I think that's only because they knew I was a talker.
You see, the Monsignor who was running the church when I was there has long since moved to a different diocese, where he became "ill" and retired from the active life of a priest, and then allegations began to surface just here of late that he was involved with molesting boy children in his old parish. The one I went to school and church and altar boyed at. Wow. What a shocker. The man was so gay that I was often surprised that he didn't burst into flames on the altar, or wear bright pink under his robes. But my Mom tells me that he gave really good homily and that she really enjoyed Mass when he was preaching, so I guess things could have been worse.
In retrospect what really gets me down about that whole time is the fact that they were already training us (the altar boys) to understand the corporate ranking structure that the Catholic Church runs on, just like any big business, except Bill Gates doesn't wear a funny hat and robes, nor, to my knowledge, does he carry a curved stick. We all wore the same 'uniform' on the altar, but different enough that there was a painfully obvious (to us) separation of the senior altar boys from the junior ones. And I got to first-hand explore it all, because I was blessed (?) enough to spend my last four years (the only four years allowed us boy kids) as an altar boy.
When we served the priest on the altar at Mass, the basic uniform was a white cotton robe, which we belted with a brown silk rope, and we wore a cross on a ribbon. That's it, you just wore regular Church Clothes under it. But there were four different kinds of belts, and four different kinds of cross ribbons, and that's where the rankings came in. If you were a fifth-grader plebe, you wore a cross with a plain, single-coloured maroon ribbon and a plain brown silk belt. Your second year you were required to wear the crosses that had TWO colours of ribbon layered over each other, and one of the brown belts with yellow threads scattered through it. Third year added a third color to ribbon and belt, and the senior-most altar boys, the eighth graders, wore a cross with a ribbon so thick that it looked like something the Czar of Russia would wear to the opening of a new missle factory, and the belt had so many colours of silk thread in it that you would think it had been cut from Joseph's Technicolour Dream Coat.
And all of this information was very clearly marked out on the closet door that housed all the altar boy paraphernalia, so that you were reminded constantly, without mercy, that you were less than the older boys, and once you were an older boy you were still merciliessly less than the deacons, and they were far below the priests who themselves were mere worms underneath the Monsignor's boot who himself was a peon to the Bishop and so forth and so on up the corporate ladder. I'm still surprised that the altar boys weren't assigned windowless cubicles and rationed out rubber bands and staples.
But, at age 18 I finally broke out of religion, before I could sign up as a lay deacon (no dirty minds, you people) or worse, *gasp* enter Seminary to become a priest myself. I guess I realised that I liked plain colours and women far more than church.