Thursday, July 14, 2011

You Don't Know Me! The Slap Heard 'Round the Churchyard

Since I have doubled my readership in the last few months (thanks for coming to see me!) I've decided to do a little experiment. On Thursdays I'll be posting some items from the first year of blogging under the title You Don't Know Me!

I hope that's not blog cheating. I'll still be posting my usual three times a week, so stop clutching your pearls and enjoy.

I’ve been on sort of an endless search for new parent friends since we moved to the boonies. Not to replace my existing friends (hi, guys, love you, thanks for being my only readers), but to supplement them so we have local people to talk to about schools, where to get the best deals on soap…or whatever the hell parent friends talk about, I honestly don’t know.

One of the brilliant ideas I came up with is church. I’ve never been much of a church-goer and I could bore you with all my philosophical and political reasons for that, but this isn’t that kind of blog. But religion is important to Scott and knowing he wanted to raise all the Wee ‘Burbs we manage to pop out in the church meant I had to find one I liked. And since the actual message didn’t matter a lot to me (again except for political ones I’ll keep to myself), I set off trying to find a church with a lot of young families.

So we found a great one near us with a 10:45 mass so on the blessed days when I can sleep in, we can still make it. And it happens to be a children’s mass, which means loads of young parents. So I spend most of my time in church scouting for potential friends. I’m aware this makes me both pathetic and a heathen, but there it is. You married me for better or worse, Scott! Love you.

Anyway, so when we officially joined the church to get Wee ‘Burb baptized, we were told they host occasional welcome dinners where they “pair up” veteran parishioners with new ones for a nice dinner at the priest’s house. Once I got over the initial “Oh my GOD…I mean gosh…we’re going to eat…at the priest’s house? Like talk to him one-on-one? Like he’s a person or something?” spaz, I agreed to go.

So we got in our finest “Priest’s House Casual BBQ” clothes (thank goodness I’ve become accustomed to being overdressed since I moved back here) and went to dinner. I’m not sure how much “matching” went into this particular gathering. Let’s just say there were repeated comments like “ohhh, I have a granddaughter your age.” I did bond with one woman who recently started working at home, and we did share our guilt over doing laundry between calls, but the conversation grew awkward when she said she had a daughter “not much older than me” who turned out to have a 18-year-old graduating from high school. Um, okay? Time for Stephanie to invest in Botox, apparently.

Anyway, I look over and see that Scott has found the only other couple there who are under 40. Jackpot! We’ll ignore the fact that the dude was wearing a cowboy hat…desperate times and all that. So I go over and schmooze the wife and find out they have an 8-year-old boy and are in their late 30s. They also didn’t know a ton of people outside of their family, having moved to the area only a few years ago. A few glasses of chardonnay, and I’m thinking we have found our soulmates, cowboy hat and all.

Scott tells me later in the evening, about 5 minutes into the conversation, Cowboy Hat had already insulted him. Scott was discussing how he has every tool known to man and Cowboy Hat says “maybe if you relied on manual labor instead of tools, you’d lose some weight.” Um, excuse me? I should note that Cowboy Hat was NOT A SMALL MAN.

But whatever, I didn’t know this and Scott is nicer than me and didn’t tell me until much later. So, we’re gathered in a circle after the worst meal I’ve ever had (if you can call sausage stew and Skinny Cow ice cream a meal) courtesy of what the priest had the gall to call “the catering committee.” Sorry, but my God doesn’t look kindly on people who pretend store-bought cupcakes and lowfat ice cream sandwiches is “dessert.”

So we’re gathered in the circle and we’re instructed to tell everyone what brought us to the church. Most people have simple stories. Live in the area, heard about it, liked the look of the church, the usual. One guy rambled on how he knew the priest from seminary school, but then married a fiery Argentinian who got shot at when she visited the Mall of America. Yeah, I don’t know, either.

Then it’s Cowboy Hat’s turn. And he begins to ramble about how he hated the other churches, naming priests by NAME who apparently take too long to say the “Our Father” for his tastes.

People uncomfortably giggle and the priest nods a little and sort of clasps his hands, waiting for this to be over. But Cowboy Hat is just gearing up! He continues to go on about how it is his personal mission to put signs on the cars of everyone who is late saying “don’t bother to come in” because people stumble in about 5 minutes into service. Granted, he’s not wrong here, people are late in ways that make me anxious as a girl who attended church only on special occasions and was told “10 minutes early is 5 minutes late” and was forced to wear Sunday best while everyone else wore jeans.

Anyway, this goes on for like 5 minutes and then I have to follow him! And I am momentarily speechless, partly because I’m actually not 100% sure he’s done. But he solemnly nods at me like “good luck following THAT, sweetheart” and I manage to squeak out we wanted a place with lots of kids and we liked the sermons and the evening continues at a more normal pace.

Until about an hour, and (apparently) a few beers, later for Cowboy Hat. He is telling a story by the firepit to the priest about going to Easter mass with his nieces and nephews. He’s explaining to the priest that back in the day, if he was talking during mass, he would get a swift backhand to the head and then he PROCEEDS TO DEMONSTRATE ON HIS WIFE!

You could hear the smack followed by just total silence until Scott gasps to the woman next to him “did that dude just hit his wife??!!” and the woman nods and Cowboy Hat abuser has now realized what he’s done and pats her head and said something like “that was harder than the demonstration required.”

Um, it required NO demonstration!

I was waiting for the priest to get out his appointment book then and there for a little marital counseling, but instead they made their excuses that they had to go pick up their kid and we followed shortly thereafter. We were silent for the walk down the street to our car and when we were belted in, Scott looked at me and said, “seriously, did that guy hit his wife??!!”

Yes, yes he did. And with that slap went any hopes of parental bonding.


Jenny said...

yikes! are you still going there? what a jerk. i mean, wow. what a JERK!! and for everyone to brush it under the rug, like it didn't happen...

i'd guess we're probably on the same page as far as philosophical/political feelings towards organized religion. kinda nice to know i'm not alone :)

i can't really say i've ever commented on a blog before, so i'm not sure how the thing will list me; i thought i should probably sign off just so you know for sure.

keep writing...

jenny (black) zoss

Small Town Mommy said...

Our church does a dinner thing (they call it Octet) and we signed up for it when we moved to town. We discovered the same thing. Most of the participants had children our age (and we aren't young). I never saw anyone hit their spouse but there were some bizarre conversations.

KLZ said...

I love the awkwardness of this story. Sometimes, you can't make real life up.

Rach (DonutsMama) said...

I just don't even know what to say. Seriously? Do see Cowboy Hat at church anymore?

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