Sundays. A day to nurture the bonds of family. A day for quiet reflection. And for many, a day to rest and rejuvenate their souls as a worshiper in their cathedral of choice.
The Man-of-Mystery, being religiously unaffiliated, has always believed that itís more meaningful for folks to volunteer their time on Sundays to a hands-on cause in lieu of the inertia of a church pew. Something like coaching a kidís sports team or visiting an old-fogey in a nursing home somewhere. Letís face it, we all know that many of those fancy- dressed bible-thumpers who sit, stand, and kneel for an hour are the same ones later in the day who resent you for attempting to merge into traffic on route 202, then give you a hand-signal suggesting you fornicate with yourself, and then arrive at their destination 30-seconds earlier than they would have if theyíd been merciful enough to share the road with another member of Godís flock.
Since I refuse to tolerate this kind of hypocrisy, my particular charitable act on the Sabbath is to help the bartenders at the Trappe Tavern sell their quota of alcoholic beverages between 1pm and 3pm by buying as many dollar drafts and dollar well-drinks as a 250-pound mysterious human can drink in 2-hours.
At my wifeís request, though, I relented a couple Sundays ago and agreed to accompany her and my in-laws to Christís Church of the Valley, her choice for ecclesiastical comfort. Although my lovely wife didnít know it at the time, her pleading request turned out to be a grave error of judgement. As for me, I should have known better than to go there with an irreverent chip on my shoulder. But at least I was going, right? What follows is a sequential description of my failure to comply, mainstream, or meet spousal expectations. I donít know why it happens, but it always does.
A Movie Theater?
There is no Christís Church of the Valley. They have an office in Collegeville but they meet in one of the movie theaters in the town of Oaks at the Regal 24. As we walked toward the entrance to meet the in-laws, my wife said theyíre going to build a church when they get the money up. I told her it was comforting to know that the pastor was trying to get the money up instead of his penis. Through clenched teeth she warned me not to start my nonsense. I said okay.
Itís Not So Bad!
There was a greeting committee in the lobby serving complimentary coffee, juice, doughnuts, and a free plastic coffee mug for first-time visitors! How bad can this be? Church in a movie theater and free concessions! As my loved ones milled about, I grabbed some apple juice (I shouldnít have, it gives me gas) and excused myself to go save some seats.
Inside, there was a large stage beneath the silver screen where several cool-looking musicians were tuning up their rock instruments. Wow. Free gifts, food and beverages, a rock-and-roll band, and stadium-seating with surround-sound. I grabbed a line of seats on the far left, one row up from the floor. I sat against the wall and saved the three to my right before the aisle.
You Want Me To Do What?
The Pastor starts with a lecture about profanity. Then, to my horror, he asks everyone to stand up and tell their neighbor about the first time they remember cursing. Well now Iím pissed. Iím supposed to be listening to Rock music and eating doughnuts, not socializing with Auntie M. What does he want me to say? "Hello Madam, Iím the Man-of-Mystery. Iíve never said one fucking bad word in my life until now. Iím so angry, though, that I have to talk to your stupid ass that I thought it was a fucking jolly-good time to start being a foul-mouthed bastard. May God be with you."
Instead, I remained seated, looking like a mushroom in a forest. My wife, through clenched teeth again, kept glancing down and telling me to "get up, get up." Well, since cursing seemed to be the subject of the day, I decided to stay with the theme and I told her to go f#@$ herself.
Please Be Generous
It was time to help them build the church. The collection agents were coming. I pulled a dollar from my shirt pocket, one I brought especially for this moment. My wife pulled out the checkbook.
"What the f@#$ are you doing?"
"Iím writing a check for ten dollars."
"Would you please keep your voice down, youíre embarrassing me."
I shut up and waited for the plate to pass. She put in the ten dollar check and I dropped in our MasterCard. She snatched the card out. My ribs should heal in about two more weeks.
The Body and Blood of Christ
It was time for the sacrament. The blood was thimble-sized shots of grape juice. The body was crushed saltines. As the server neared our row ---
"Iím not drinking that stuff."
"Just drink it and grow up."
"It looks too much like cool-aid, the Pastorís last name is Jones, havenít you ever heard of the Jonestown massacre?" (then I remembered who I was talking to: a woman so dumb she once bought The Idiots Guide on How to be Stupid).
"No, I havenít, now stop being a jackass."
A Grand Misdemeanor of the Buttock. X2
Thatís right, I farted just as the cyanide was pushed my way. The first dubious expression, however, was not my fault at all---a sidebar to a sneeze, if you will. It happens, or so I tried to explain.
"YOU ARE D-I-S-G-U-S-T-I-N-G!"
"I didnít do it on purpose! I drank apple-juice before I came in and I forgot to take my allergy pill . . . give me a break."
"Do it again and weíll never be back here together!"
I told you she wasnít too bright.
I farted immediately. My mother-in-law, who had been asleep, woke up. I started to laugh silently and my whole body was shaking. My wife told me I was a jackass and to get out.
Sometimes life works out just the way you want it to.
Man of Mystery