"I Don't Want to Dance With You, Now or Ever"

Reminiscences of a Perverted Catholic Singles Club

July 1, 2017

I'm standing at the table waiting to purchase entry to my first "Catholic Singles Club International" dinner/dance being held at a Holiday Inn meeting room. I'm having trouble completing the transaction. This is because the woman who is supposed to take my money and give me a blank name badge is staring down at the table, ignoring me, even though my hand holding ten bucks is extended toward her.

Little did I know at that moment that the next few years would hold a lot of staring down, or sometimes staring straight ahead, in synch with pretending that I do not exist.

Eventually a male dance-committee member came to the rescue and took my money. On I advanced to the next step: waiting in the meeting room, sitting at a table with another guy, also a first-timer. He and I exchanged nods and hopeful smiles. We listened to the president of the DC/Arlington chapter of "Catholic Singles Club International" calling for a quorum.

What does calling for a quorum have to do with dining and dancing? Well, in those days, 1996, the dinner/dance was preceded by a business meeting. The dinner/dance could not start until the business meeting was concluded. The business meeting could not start until a quorum was present.

"Do we have a quorum?" the president bleated as he rotated, scanning the sparsely-populated room. After a few seconds, during which time no additional members entered to make the room less sparsely-populated and to bring the proceedings closer to a quorum, he rotated and bleated again, "Do we have a quorum?"

I don't know what the other newcomer at the table thought. I was astounded. Both of us, by the way, were totally ignored by the less-than-a-quorum in the room. No one greeted us or bothered to introduce themselves while the president was rotating and bleating, "Do we have a quorum?"

A few more CSCI members eventually walked in. Someone convinced the president that a quorum was present. Most likely they bent the rule, a practice, I discovered, CSCI leadership was very Uri-Gellerish at.

Veterans knew not to come to dinner/dances until after the quorum-calls and business meetings had been wrestled to the ground. This meant that they didn't arrive until very late. I didn't wait to meet them. I don't think I stayed even for the dinner. One woman I knew from outside the CSCI showed up and spoke to me. No one else did.

That disgrace should have been my first and last CSCI event, but soon after I found myself heading for a CSCI picnic at Lake Needwood. The picnic was announced as starting at 2 pm. I came with an appetite, expecting burgers to be sizzling on the grill at 2 p.m. There were no burgers sizzling, nothing to eat at all. A male member -- Come to think of it: only males were present -- introduced himself thus, "Hi! Do you have any hobbies?" The guy bringing the burgers sauntered up at 3:30. If I recollect, his ground beef was not completely thawed. That day I stopped at a fast-food place on the way home to stuff my ravenous self with the broiled meat that I had been done out of at Needwood.

Why? Why? Why?

Most CSCI events were marred by social ineptitude exemplified above or by the antics of mean, inconsiderate losers. E.g., on a roadtrip to Gettysburg, two disappeared without telling anyone where they were going, leaving the rest of us standing under the beating sun in a parking lot for two hours. Below I'll describe how a disadvantaged child was lost on an outing. On another such outing, one CSCI loser bought a toy for one of the disadvantaged kids, a no-no because it would -- and did -- cause a ruckus among the other disadvantaged kids who didn't get toys, indignation shared by their adult guardians from the protective home.

So, why did I keep coming to CSCI events, and for the next five years?

First let me explain why I joined such an outfit in the first place. I expected that when I joined a "Catholic" group, I would meet other Catholics who, as I did, shared a commitment to and understanding of the Catholic faith that they, no matter how far along they were on their faith journey, were interested in developing.

Most Catholic people in my age group, especially the ones who went to Catholic schools, threw down Catholicism for karma, yoga, Buddha, whatever gives shallow, self-centered people an air of spirituality.

Even in those years, long before I came to understand marriage as a domestic church, I was only interested in marrying a Catholic woman. A non-Catholic, even a Christian, was out of the question because she would not likely understand obligatory Mass attendance or daily Mass or an hour of prayer a day and reading all kinds of books that aren't the Bible. I didn't want to spend my marriage arguing about birth control or other differences -- or avoiding the subjects entirely -- in front of our kids.

Sixty percent of doing something right is keeping the wrong people out of it.

I figured that a group like the CSCI, proclaiming itself to be "Catholic" would be a magnet for the remnant, those who hadn't graduated from the faith. After all, its requirements for membership were "graduate of Catholic college," "must be practicing Catholic" and "free to marry in the church (i.e., not divorced)."

So I joined CSCI expecting to meet believing Catholics and have conversations with them about the faith and weather and work as one does at social events, at least at every social event I attended before I joined the CSCI. I expected to come away from the club with Catholic friends after having quickly met an attractive Catholic woman who would fall in love with a Catholic gentleman and want to be his wife.

Instead of writing this, I should now be worrying about how to pay my kids' college tuition.

Silly me. The first obstacle to my getting what I wanted out of the CSCI was, as I've already described in part, the greeting, the acknowledgement, the first step to everything else. Without the greeting, the introduction, that chat about the weather, the job, the faith, nothing else happens.

I was 35 years old and CSCI events were the first ever occasions in my life on which I encountered so many people who behaved as if I were invisible. Even the chair of the hospitality committee looked through me. I was raised by parents who believed that if you are in a church, or in a club or even simply in a room with other people, that is reason for greeting and speaking to them, at least nodding at them.

Growing to and passing through young adulthood, I met all kinds of folks, some very different from me, small-townies, characters, from tough neighborhoods the other side of DC, flirting with arrest and conviction. All had social skills. Some people might speak to me scornfully, but at least they spoke to me.

I was a shy young man, myself, but I quickly realized how stupid being shy is. I extended myself and gained enough experience of life to cure it, to have something to say. And never during the awkward years when the best I often could only muster were one-word answers, would I have just ignored someone who addressed me.

Label slappers

Were these CSCI members unashamedly rude because they were Catholic? No. As I'll explain shortly, they weren't really Catholic. Authentic, praying, believing Catholics would not treat me -- or anyone -- as disgracefully as most of those CSCI women did. Authentic, praying, believing Catholics have Christian charity and moreover an ability to recognize other praying, believing Catholics. They are, in fact, naturally drawn to other praying, believing Catholics. Those who call themselves Catholic but who are rude to their coreligionists have buried their talents in the ground. They are not dressed for the wedding feast. They belong out in the street.

My 30s were years of learning a lot about my church and the people in it. I discovered that the term "Catholic" means many things to people who call themselves Catholic. Among those are "cultural Catholics" who may go to Mass but who don't do much more, who likely disagree with many church teachings and who think that Catholicism is merely slapping a label on themselves. Those, the label-slappers, are what primarily made up the membership of The Catholic Singles Club International.

The label-slapping showed not only in the rudeness of the members but also in the corruption of the ruling clique. The president who succeeded Mr. Quorum Call, and founded a dynasty of like-minded "leaders," was a Boston Catholic who wore the Catholic label like a green, foil, St. Paddy's Day top hat. He was not at all abashed about steering all the awards to members of his inner circle. He wanted to win crystal whatnots bestowed by the CSCI international (1) for heading the chapter that recruited the most new members. That meant quality of members, enforcing the rules, be damned. But that's what usually happens when organizations give awards for recruiting.

Boston Catholic made CSCI the open town that Honey Fitz could only dream of. He increased the number of scheduled dances and advertised them everywhere when they and the club should have been promoted only in Catholic parishes and publications. This broadcasting brought in more droves of label-slappers and those who were not even cultural Catholics, including plenty who saw the club as just another bar, just another hookup place.

Among all the creation that came were divorcees. Remember, the club rules stipulated "free to marry in the church." One woman had two sons that she called her "nephews." What kind of a mother conceals the existence of her own children? Well, this mother became the belle of the ball in CSCI. She had twinkling, baby blue eyes. She looked easy. At whatever club event she presented herself, the pathetic CSCI men, shlubs who worked in tire stores or gyms or the Dept. of Yadayada, would gather in orbit -- and I mean literal concentric circles -- around her. When she was in the room, there weren't even any guys to talk to.

As usually happens when people who don't belong are admitted (to a club, to a country), they take over.

Like many others who weren't qualified to belong, "Auntie" was exceptionally mean. She brought one guy to tears when he asked her to dance and she humiliated him in front of everybody, yelling, "I don't want to dance with you now or ever!"

Once she walked by me, blinking her baby blues and hinting loudly, "I don't have anybody to dance with!"

"Well," I delivered a little bit of justice, "I don't want to dance with you now or ever."

I was furious when I discovered that the leadership had secret "new-member receptions" so that they, the ruling clique, could "greet" -- that is, get a first look and crack at -- the recently-joined. If any courtships developed at all, they occurred among people who had only just signed up; love at first sight. Anyone who was a member for any length of time is likely still a member and will be until he or she dies.

However, none of the brides in CSCI marriages that I know of were prizes. Two got into a fight because one CSCI bride scheduled her wedding for the same day that another CSCI bride scheduled hers. The first CSCI bride accused the second CSCI bride of trying to siphon off her CSCI friends.

Truly, if I were a groom and my intended wanted to have CSCI people at our wedding, I would call off the nuptials and demand my ring back. Another bride-to-be told a guest, "If you park cars, that can be your wedding gift to us."

Everything is wonderful

In corrupt regimes, there are no problems. Problems are swept under the rug. Everything is wonderful. I suggested to the Boston Catholic president that a list of members who are ill be published in the newsletter so we could all pray for them. "Depressing," he dismissed my suggestion. He also fought with some old-timers of long institutional memories who wanted to include on the widely-circulated membership application a "hold harmless" clause protecting the club from damages incurred during fistfights etc. There were historical reasons, but Boston Catholic's position: Such a clause is a turn-off to prospective members. Who needs it if only wonderful, positive things happen?

The second obstacle to my getting what I wanted out of the CSCI was that if any decent, Catholic wife-material ever wandered in, the men, many of them fifty-somethings looking to score with thirty-somethings, would scare her off before you could say "loser." In addition to encouraging all and sundry to come, the leadership made no effort to make women feel protected and safe.

Once I took two female friends to a CSCI dance. I spent the whole occasion running from one to another, rescuing each from the creeps who beset them like gnats. I never saw one lady again. One creep, who said he was a "convert" (not the only one to make that claim; another claim was "I got an annulment.") had a habit of grabbing women, sometimes from behind, and hugging them.

The leadership ignored his improprieties until he tackled one of the clique favorites. Then they kicked him out. In corrupt regimes, protection is only for the elites. However because the administration of justice in the CSCI was as in a banana republic, the creep was eventually allowed to return.


The day the animals talked. What was in the air at Monticello when "CSCI" members went there on a road trip? People were actually friendly and communicative.

I stayed for so long because there was that hope: if I keep going to events, I will meet her. Too, there was simply no place else to look for a Catholic spouse.

And while most were stubbornly, incorrigibly, shamelessly stuck-up and standoffish, a few women in the CSCI did talk to me. Unfortunately they fell into these four categories that made being friends with them a waste of time: 1) Those passing through town careerwise who didn't stay long, 2) Those who wanted to be the center of attention 3) Silly bitches who often overlapped with 2); 4) Those who wanted to belong to a social club (and perhaps take advantage of the guys who had sailboats and pilot's licenses) but who were not interested in dating.

One of the No. 4s was another reason I stuck out the CSCI for five years. Unlike most members, she had actually gone to a Catholic college, was smart, believing, practicing. I fell for her. For years, out of love, I helped her with the CSCI volunteer events she hosted. Some involved taking children in protective custody on outings as I mentioned above. On one of these outings to a local park, one of the CSCI idiots lost one of the kids. While the other CSCI idiots milled around, muttering, I walked all over that park until I found that kid safe, thank God, in the care of police officers. I saved the day. I'll tell you how I was repaid below.

Soldiers of Satan

I was not silent about my disappointment with the CSCI and with its members' rudeness. If anything, that made them shyer of me, but, of course, who could tell? I was never thanked for my contributions in the newsletter, nor did I receive a thank-you pen at the Christmas dance.

I wanted to clear the club of all the label-slapping clutter. I got on the board of directors as community service chair, easy to do since they were always desperate for volunteers. In joining, I, always with my mixed motives, thought they would then be friendly to me. Didn't happen. After six board meetings I knew no one any better than I did at the first.

Remember that quorum-calling ex-president? In talking to him, I learned that he, too, was concerned about flotsam and jetsam gushing through the wide-open membership gates. Moreover he was concerned about divorced people joining without understanding the church's teaching on divorce and remarriage.

Much to the chagrin of the ruling clique -- One could see their panic at the board meeting -- Former President Quorum Call and I demanded a committee to examine member acceptance.

We got our committee, but unfortunately it was stacked against us right from the get-go. Other members chosen included the woman who processed membership applications. Another was an old-woman, long-time member for whom the CSCI was her whole life and who did not want any kind of change or boat-rocking. The most awesome appointee of all was the Boston Catholic president who was mainly responsible for the problem.

As I said, the 1990s were learning years for me about Catholics and the church. That committee episode taught me what happens when the label-slappers and dissenters take over a Catholic organization, in this case a club (But it could be a parish. Or the Holy See.) and faithful people who want authenticity and fidelity stand up to them. It taught me how aggressive, possessive and underhanded the label-slappers and dissenters can be when anyone wants to turn things in the right direction.

Why are you so resistant to having a club that's about good, practicing Catholics meeting other good, practicing Catholics? Why are you so insistent on having a club that's overrun by bitches and creeps who treat people like dirt?

I often felt like asking the Boston Catholic and his disciples: Why are you so resistant to having a club that's about good, practicing Catholics meeting other good, practicing Catholics? Why are you so insistent on having a club that's overrun by bitches and creeps who treat people like dirt?

Was it just about winning crystal knick-knacks from CSCI HQ? The answer, I've concluded, after witnessing similar destructive behaviors in larger matters throughout the church, is that Satan is tempting average people to aggressively act in matters that average people shouldn't normally care that much about.

Why a piddling affair like a singles club? Satan really hates marriage. He has even infiltrated Catholic institutions and therein is employing subtle, ingenious ways to make his war on the sacrament. A pervered singles club is one of his many irons in the fire.

"Rest in peace!"

Even before the committee meeting, the establishment was spreading the notion that those who wanted the eligibility of applicants more closely scrutinized really wanted only applicants who "knew lots of Catholic trivia," whatever "Catholic trivia" meant. The term implied silly, inconsequential stuff. To me "Catholic trivia" is the name of the pope reigning in 1907. To the ruling clique it probably meant the difference between annulment and divorce. To label-slappers, the Mass is trivial. Social justice, i.e., voting for the welfare state, is what the faith is all about.

Mr. Quorum Call was too dense to realize it, but he was also the butt of very subtle ridicule. It was often disguised as kidding, but he was cast as a bit of a crank.

They came to the committee meeting with their daggers drawn. They brought some extra muscle with them in the form of non-committee member crashers. The membership chair hinted that she was hard-working and was insulted that members were questioning how she handled applications. The old woman, as predicted, didn't want anything to change.

The funniest defense of the status quo came from one of the meeting-crashers, a heavy woman with a chip on her shoulder who often sported a "100 Ways To Kill A Man" T-shirt (XXXL). She argued that the club was a way for non Catholics or new Catholics to learn about the Catholic church, to see what it was like. Well, if the CSCI is what the Catholic Church is like, then, I fear, Jesus was kidding when he promised that the jaws of death will not prevail against it.

The man-hater was one of those, not uncommon, who believe that the church must evangelize with everything she does. Everything must be about reaching out to people, not exclusively for Catholics. In practice, this belief hobbles nay, cripples many an organization's function. The CSCI, by its stated mission, was for practicing Catholics to meet other practicing Catholics.

Worst of all, Mr. Quorum Call turned out to be every bit the nerd I thought he was the first time I saw him rotating and bleating at that dinner dance. During the meeting, he turned to me -- or rather, on me -- and insisted, "I don't want to kick anyone out!"

Well, what do you want, you f-----g little traitor coward?! I thought, Just to talk about rules?

Indeed, I learned, that's what the guy got off on: talking about rules.

Realizing I was defeated, I gave up quietly. Yes, Dear Membership Lady, you work hard. This meeting was not the result of dissatisfaction with your performance. As I was leaving the meeting, someone said -- and I still laugh about it -- "Rest in peace!"

Benedict Option 2000

OK, if I couldn't establish the right in the club as a whole, I decided to build something within it to appeal to good Catholics just in case they came along. I figured that discussion groups would attract serious people. The last thing label-slappers are interested in is learning more about the faith. They know it all!

The DC/Arlington CSCI chapter had a chaplain. In addition to saying Mass before the Christmas dinner dance, the (only) other thing he was good for was allowing me to use meeting rooms in his rectory. I hosted a discussion about St. John Paul II's encyclical, Fides et Ratio. I got my boss from the scripture study guide I worked on at the time to talk about Pope Pius XII and the Jews. A priest came and spoke about the underground church in communist China. Mr. Quorum Call got his talk about divorce and annulment, but as I told him, the people who should hear it weren't present.

Attendance was never more than several (as I expected), but half the attendees were women. The men were the best in the club, some true Catholic gentlemen. I have to say that during my singles club years I met a few of those. A couple were even great looking. Yet like me, they got nowhere. All the crazier were those women for not snapping them up.

But that's what losers do: pass up the chance to get to know smart, good-looking, successful people when that chance is offered them.

Catholics should remember that even Jesus could not work miracles where he had no respect. Every time I went near those CSCI people, one of them pissed on my leg. It happened one time too many. After five years, I walked off the board of directors and out of the club.

As for the No. 4 Lady. There came a moment when she had a choice between Neal Conway -- Catholic gentleman who could have gotten a Master's degree in all the time he spent being her right-hand man at her volunteer events, who found the kid that one of her stupid friends lost, who could have helped her to be a better servant of God (or more) -- and the mean CSCI losers. She chose the mean losers.

On my own

With a small group of friends, I started my own group. Interparish Young Adults was advertised only in Catholic parish bulletins and publications, not to the whole metropolitan area. There was an age limit of 40. That, I hoped, would deter the invasion of "problem children," including the obnoxious 50-year-olds looking for 30-year-old blonds.

Sixty percent of doing something right is keeping the wrong people out of it.

Ideally, the members of my club would be interested equally in social, religious and service activities. Once the organization was established, a member would not be able to attend the social stuff unless he or she also put in time at the religious and the service stuff.

We made certain that, at our events, we would not stand in a knot ignoring everybody else but would each talk to the new people who came. Nobody was ever left by himself. I was later told that our few get-aquainted gatherings were so much warmer than the CSCI's.

But Interparish Young Adults never got beyond the get-acquainted gatherings. Some pastors did not like my age restriction. Try to find a young adults group in the 2010s that does not proclaim an age limit of 35. My little troop of regulars and I could only do so much. Some "problem children" pushed their way in anyway ("But I'm 41!").

I got sick of women sitting outside in their cars, waiting to see who was coming in and then driving off. I got sick of women coming through the door, eating my shrimp platters and leaving without any interest in me or my vision. My father died and I decided to go to grad school. So I shut it down.

As it turns out, most Catholic singles prefer CSCIs and their antics to warm, friendly, genuinely Catholic groups.

Epilogue: Cyber-CSCIs

When I haven't been criticized for dwelling so much on my CSCI experience, I've been asked why I don't try Catholic on-line dating services. When they first came along, I, curious, checked them out. Although members identities are not revealed to the uninitiated, I immediately recognized some long-time CSCI members from their profiles. That aided greatly in my concluding that Catholic on-line dating sites are, in addition to being problematic in many ways, also populated with losers who don't know and jump on a good thing when they see it.

I've been insulted enough in my life. I've had years of it wasted. I don't want to pay a membership fee for more of that.

The hole that wasn't filled by the CSCI gets bigger and bigger, but the story goes on and I walk it with the Father and The Holy Family.


(1) As the "I" indicates, there is an "international" CSC above local chapters. Why there is never made sense to me. Is it because it has conventions which make it possible for members to spend lots of money to travel to places where they will be ignored by CSCIers from all over the country? I bet there are some who met a nice woman from Chicago at the 1999 convention and who, ever since, wait all year to attend and see if she returns.

For Further Reading

Neal J. Conway, The Single Vocation: Why It's A Lie,, May 19, 2016.

Neal J. Conway, Pornography, Pets, Girlfriends: A Different Catholic Perspective on What's Killing Marriage,, June 1, 2016.

About Neal J. Conway