One time, I was kicked out of and banned by a church. Ok. That’s not entirely true. In fact, it’s mostly not true. I wasn’t kicked out during services—nor was I kicked out after services. Or even before services, for that matter. Nor was I banned. However, it makes a better story if I say that I was kicked out of and banned by a church—so let’s pretend that was the outcome of the story that I am about to share.
I’ve never been a big church-goer, nor am I what you would refer to as “religious”. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Besides, no particular religion would want to accept me into their ranks, so I’m kind of limited in that regard. They’d end up kicking me out anyway, right? Ultimately, I have my personal spiritual beliefs, I run with those, and try to let everyone else do their own thing. Do no harm—and leave me the fuck out of it. Unless your church is having a cake walk or bake sale—then ya’ best call my fat ass. Actually, just the bake sale. If I wanted to walk for cake, I’d walk my big ass into Albertson’s and pick one up. And then I won’t have to worry if you have a roach problem at your house or if your pet cat Sookie shook off some of her flea-infested hair into the batter bowl. Not everyone is all that clean, and I really don’t need an intestinal parasite—unless it’s a tapeworm, ‘cause losing some weight the easy way sounds like Heaven, to be honest, and you can cure that shit with a pill and a big case of the Trots.*
Anyhoozles…having said all…that…I have actually been in a church before. Usually as a guest of a regular member—but that’s beside the point. When my sister and I were little, I have vivid memories of being taken to church by our mother and/or grandmother. It was usually around the high-holy holidays (Easter, Christmas, any holiday where a potluck was served afterwards), but they’d still take us from time-to-time. Church and religion (other than Easter egg hunts and Christmas trees) were not really big things growing up in our home. I guess you could call us heathens—but that has less to do with religion and more with our general behavior.
However, when I was in my teens, my grandmother started going to a Methodist church regularly, and really enjoyed the church and sense of community it brought her. It brought comfort to her, especially after my grandfather died, so it was something I encouraged—even if I didn’t have the time to get involved. Over the years, I watched her come and go to church, volunteer there, do their books for them, help with the aforementioned bake sales, blah blah blah. Ya’ know, the things I imagine loyal members do when they sign up for a cult…er, church.
Trying to be a good grandson (which never really worked out for me—not that I worked that hard at it), I accepted my grandmother’s invitation to go with her to church one Sunday. What the hell, I thought, maybe there will be a cake walk. I was actually hoping for communion before I found out that the Methodists tend to use grape juice—but this was in Texas, so it was probably grape Kool-Aid.** So, like I said, I was trying to be a good grandson, and I went. I was up, showered, dressed, all on time, and ready to go. And for the most part, things went very well—though I found myself pretty bored by the time the sermon rolled around and I didn’t see a cake one in that whole place (which is surprising for Methodists).
Things took a turn when two people that belonged to the church started a duet after the sermon. Without getting too much into it…I had my eyes down (trying to act reverent, but I was probably nodding off), and when the first words came out of the two mouths, I thought manatees had broken into the church and started mating. Of course, I immediately looked up—‘cause manatees going at it would definitely liven things up.
Did I mention that my grandmother was a note passer? A few minutes into the service, I noticed my grandmother had pulled a pen out of her purse, placed a hymnal on her lap as a makeshift desk, and was writing things on her church program. I thought she was writing down important news about the church, parts of the service that made her feel the spirit, or was generally just being a good church lady. Nope. She was writing down gossip and passing it to people in neighboring pews. This is important information for this story.
Well, about the time that the sounds from the deep started echoing through the rafters, the aforementioned program was shoved under my nose:
“Sounds like a couple of dying cows.”
In my grandmother’s handwriting. My grandmother had just roasted the church duo. On a church program. And was proud enough to shove it under my nose to read. That’s comedy. I did what any normal human would do—I tried to not laugh. This caused me to do that weird Morse code type breathing through my nose, and then my shoulders began to shake, and I found it harder and harder to keep a Grinch-like smile from spreading across my face. Suddenly…another note:
“Shut up or I’ll punch you in the face.”
Do you think this cured my case of the Church Giggles? Hell no it didn’t. It got to a level that I thought I would either pass out from trying to suppress my laughter, or I would just have to get up and go wait in the car. Luckily, the duet ended fairly soon thereafter, and I was able to pull myself together for the benediction. Of course, through the whole benediction my grandmother was looking at me with a snarl, shaking her head.
So, we “went in peace” and I waited patiently and politely as my grandmother pretended she hadn’t just used her program to drag everyone in that church to filth, shaking hands and giving hugs the whole way out. Watching my grandmother work the room, I thought that maybe she was no longer mad and would forgive and forget. It’s what Jesus would do, right? Turn the other cheek? All hope was lost when we climbed into her minivan and my grandmother turned to me, shoved a crooked, witchy finger in my face and said:
“You’ll never come back to this goddamned church as long as I live.”***
Joke was on her—I didn’t want to go in the first place.
Until next time…
* Don’t take medical advice from me.
** It’s not really grape flavor—it’s purple flavored Kool-Aid. I’ll write a post on this.
***She was right. The next time I was there was for her funeral. Is this joke in bad taste? Discuss!