Friday, February 27, 2009

Devils and Dust

On Wednesday morning, I was awakened at an unfortunate hour when Pigpen the Boxerbeast decided he'd violently rattle the mattress by excavating his ear canals with his back feet. I couldn't force my eyeshades to close again so I snarled into the kitchen to start my day, passive aggressively stepping in his water dish on the way to the fridge.

Fast forward a handful of hours and I'd done nothing but ingest enough Diet Coke to eradicate any lingering tooth enamel. I'd already seen the episode of 227 set to air at eight and was searching for a new method of procrastination when I locked eyes with my planner, saw the words 'Ash Wednesday' written in ten point font, and decided to drop into the early mass.

I pulled on a pair of pants that didn't have an elastic waistband, debated whether to wash my face since it was just going to get smudged with God Dust and headed to the church. I actually knew where it was without having to fire up the GPS, not because I attend regularly but because it serves as the finish line for one of my favorite 5K races. I've earned a t-shirt for each time I've entered the building, a 100% cotton reminder that this particular parish gives more money than a now defunct Auto-Zone but less than Krispy Kreme. I briefly considered swinging past the confessional to apologize for what I did on my last visit, the unfortunate destruction of Thy Ladies' Room after a bagel and banana-fueled personal best.

Wednesday's 8:15 screening was crawling with school kids in matching sweatshirts and khakis, which meant that it was sure to be a short service. According to the Burberry-wrapped woman beside me, the priest himself was a trainee and this early show was essentially his open mic night. After spending an hour watching him nervously rattle the goblets and almost fumble the ash dish, you understood why he hadn't been handed a weekend gig.

He raced through a heavily accented homily, causing the Neiman Marcus droppings beside me to spend several minutes hissing in totally audible stage whispers about whether he was Spanish or Italian. "He has to be Spanish, right?" a woman with a Marquis cut the size of the collection plate asked at a volume level just this side of Weedeater.

"He's Italian", Burberry replied as we all stood up. "Because he says his L's like Ricky Ricardo."

"RUCY! You got some splainin' to do!" the other said with a dry laugh, catching the attention of a black-clad woman who gave everyone a nasty look before returning her attention to her rosary.

We sat down.

"Ricky was Cuban", I said several minutes later, standing to shake hands with Burberry and skipping 'peace be with you' in favor of TVLand Trivia.

"Oh?" she said, dropping my palm* and looking to her left. "Did you hear that, Kathy? He's from Cuba."

"Who is?" Kathy asked as we settled back on the bench.

After another trip from our knees to our feet, the mass ended and we went in peace.** I'm pretty sure that you're supposed to leave the cross on your forehead until, like, Jesus sees his shadow or something but I caught a glimpse of myself in the rearview and it looked like Father Ricardo had applied the ashes with a paint roller. I spent the afternoon running errands, looking less like a devout pilgrim and more like Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer. *** At the very least, my Ash Face forced me to ponder my Lenten sacrifice**** and I've decided--for the seventh straight year--to give up celibacy.

And double parking.

And sharing a bed with my dog.

* My crippling germaphobia makes the mid-mass handshaking my least favorite thing ever because it's no coincidence that the church and the hospital are named for the same saint. After hand-to-hand contact with several strangers, I always find myself uneasily kneeling on the chancel rail, silently praying that my immune system will hold until I can find the Purell at the bottom of my purse. Peace isn't the only thing you can get from the kid in the next pew.
** I walked out into the courtyard with a lingering sense of disappointment because I'll have to wait ANOTHER year before my secret wish comes true. I always attend these services with hopes that we'll get to see someone whose flesh begins to melt and bubble immediately after they're marked with the ashes, watching in horror until they totally dissolve like one of the Nazis at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The day that happens is the day I give a hundred dollar offering.
*** I was tempted to stand in Target judging the bare foreheads of the other shoppers, yelling things like "THOSE LEGGINGS AREN'T FOR HEATHENS".
**** Burberry beside me decided that for Lent she would "teach Lexi how to read." Perfect. Jesus would prefer that your child didn't roll into Easter as an illiterate.

Also, I have more words over at BitchBuzz today, all about songs that were snubbed by The Academy. There's also at least a cumulative twenty minutes of YouTube to watch, in case you were wondering how to spend your afternoon.


cardiogirl said...

I just have to ask -- do you drink the wine at Communion?

I cannot make myself do it. *Unless* I am the absolute first person in line and I have watched the cup from the minute it was filled until the moment I stand before the other person.

Usually I don't take it though. And I find it incredulous in the middle of cold and flu season to watch all of the other people take the cup, one after another.

Shelly... said...

Neiman Marcus droppings--I love it.

*Akilah Sakai* said...

In cold season (or any season for that matter) the Peace really gets to me. I've been told you absolutely cannot get sick from all that hand shaking 'cos you're inside a church. Pu-leez!

RazZDoodle said...

and also with you.

Mike said...

There's nothing like Peace that will make you run home and take a shower.

Wv - berflo - The flow that goes in and out of you quickly.

Reluctant Runner said...

Haven't taken in the AW festivities in a few years so your post made me kinda nostalgic. I'm still an enthusiastic participant in Fat Tuesday, though.

Anonymous said...

100 dollars on the day you find out god exists and is wrathful? Money, you may need to rethink your priorities.

FunnyGal KAT said...

I'm speed reading blogs today-- what I got from yours is... Jesus is from Cuba? Who knew?!?

Kate said...

You'll love this, cardiogirl -- at 5:00 Mass today, our priest had a little coughing spell as he was holding up the host during the "Take and eat..." speach. So he put the hand that was holding the giant host in front of his mouth to cover the cough! (Although I saw several people exchange "ewwwww" glances, there didn't seem to be any fewer receivers than usual.)

splendidmishap said...

so, i was reading your blog and i look over to the sidebar and see my mom on the blogher ad. weird dude. anyways, i try not to do the peace thing in church when people are sick. i give the richard nixon peace sign and call it good.

J-Money said...

cardiogirl: Oh no. I don't EVER drink the wine. I've also considered asking the priest to use Purell before handing me the wafer, but I think that's typically fround upon.

shelly: There seems to be quite a bit of money floating around this town. Unfortunately none of it has found its way into my hands.

akilah sakai: I'm pretty sure that bacteria can find its way into the church. Which is why I Lysol all of the hymnals before dropping one into my lap.

razzdoodle: Well played, sir. I just high fived in your general direction.

mike: EXACTLY. The post-peace scrubbing is very important.

reluctant runner: Lately, I've made every Tuesday a Fat One, thanks to the fact that Gorton's Fish Sticks have been a buck at the grocery store. Nothing like a couple thousand calories of flash frozen fish bits every couple of days.

anonymous: $100 would be approximately 1/10th of my earnings, so I'd be tithing like a pro.

funnygalKAT:: That explains the cigars in all of the stained glass portraits, eh?

kate: Oh wow. You've pretty much ensured I'm not attending church again, um, ever.

splendidmishap: I hope you clicked the ad with your mother so I could earn approximately 1/100th of one cent.

KT said...

I gave up shopping and Pepsi. Basically I gave up on life. I'm dying here.

StuckInWinter said...

I am an avid reader of your blog and know you love the Beatles. SO check this out:

Doublebanker said...

If I'm typing, they know I'm up to no good!

Daily Gif Blog


JRH456 said...

laughed and laughed and laughed... i needed that.


Krista said...

This post entitles you to one of two things;

1.) The next time you get the urge to explore that bi-curious side, you can contact me and I'll see what I can do.


2.) You can have number one status in Krista's list of all-time favorite bloggers.

I'm assuming you'll go for the latter so anyway, hilarious post. Thank you for making me smile at 12AM. :)