A Mass(ive) Excuse

, , , , , , | Related | May 15, 2020

I’ve always hated going to church. Starting when I was about six, I’ve used any and every excuse I could find to get out of attending Mass on Sundays, ranging from faking sick to hiding until church was over. My parents wised up to my excuses and found all my hiding spots over the years, making it much harder to escape church.

One Sunday when I’m eleven, my mom is out of town. Thinking it’ll be easier to pull one over on my dad, I try the old fake-sick routine.

Due to several chronic health conditions, I’m prone to fainting in the right — or wrong, I suppose — circumstances. I skip breakfast that morning so that my act will be more believable. However, it doesn’t work, and my dad makes me go to church anyway. Since I haven’t had anything to eat or drink at all, I actually do start to feel faint on the way over.

I also happen to be in the process of losing my last baby tooth. It’s not quite ready to come out yet, but I spend the first half of Mass pushing at it with my tongue. If I can knock it out, I’ll be able to miss at least ten minutes of Mass. I eventually succeed and start to ask my dad if I can go to the restroom. He shakes his head immediately, knowing that there’s no chance I’ll willingly come back into Mass if I’m allowed to leave. When I smile and spit my bloody tooth into my hand, he begrudgingly allows me to go.

I go to the restroom and rinse out my mouth. But since the tooth wasn’t ready to come out yet, my gums just keep bleeding, more heavily than with any other tooth I’ve lost. Between the fact that I already was feeling faint, the blood loss, and seeing all the blood, I start to pass out. I’m used to this, so I sit on the floor against the wall to wait for it to pass.

I’m only semi-conscious for a while. At one point, I vaguely notice the sound of the door opening, and then several seconds later, I hear a bloodcurdling scream. My music teacher, a sweet old lady with a morbid penchant for true crime documentaries and police procedurals, has come into the bathroom to find one of her students collapsed on the floor, mouth hanging open with a trickle of blood leaking out. She assumes I have been murdered. She runs back to the rest of the congregation, screaming bloody murder.

My memory of the next hour or so is a little fuzzy, but I know a lot of people were packed into that tiny restroom. It quickly became apparent that I had not, in fact, been murdered or harmed in any way. I was given something to drink, and I believe an EMT checked me over while I was semi-lucid. Once everyone calmed down, they decided I just needed to eat something and lie down. I was fine within an hour.

A couple of years later, my parents finally gave up on forcing me to attend church. I’ve only been back for weddings and funerals since then. Every single time I’ve attended one of my more religious cousins’ weddings, someone has jokingly asked if I’m going to knock out my own tooth to skip the Mass portion of the wedding.


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