Bob Goff and the Goff Family

so I went to catholic high school, right. and they had a tradition of starting classes with prayers, if the teacher wanted to. and they had a sub-tradition of “special intentions” - before they do the prayer, the teacher would ask, “any special intentions?” and you could ask for a prayer for someone if you want. like, you could raise your hand and say “my aunt Suzy” or “my neighbor, who has cancer” or whatever. or you could just say “special intention” if you want to keep it private. then we’d all say a Hail Mary or something, and then we’d get on with class.

junior year theology class, my teacher was, uh, brusque. you could say “a hardass”, and you’d be only slightly unkind. I kinda liked him, because he was also pretty sharp and funny. plus, the class was “world religions”, which was by far the most interesting of the theology classes. I sat near these kids Joe and Dan and Rich, who were into, like, Radiohead, and therefore really cool. (look, this was right after Amnesiac. this was the era of AIM away messages, and I could never decipher Dan’s or Rich’s, but I knew they must be cool. Dan also got me into the Dismemberment Plan, which actually did indirectly change my life, but that’s another story.)

almost every day, we’d have 3 or 4 intentions for the prayer, and every couple days one of them would be Joe or Rich asking for an intention for “Bob Goff”. After a couple months, sometimes they’d ask for one for “Bob Goff and the Goff Family”, or sometimes “Brendan Goff and the Goff Family.”

these were supposed to be semi private, but after months of prayers, I couldn’t help but ask Joe, “hey, who are Bob and Brendan Goff?” and Joe, deadpan: “I don’t know, I just saw “Bob Goff” on a truck once. Brendan I just made up.”

somehow that’s always stuck with me. what legends! it’s like, it’s not really a heartfelt prayer; but it’s also not mocking the prayer; it’s not like they particularly cared to pray, or had anything against it. it’s walking that beautiful line between “laughing at” and “laughing with.” so hats off to you, Joe and Rich and Dan. and of course, the Goff family.

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