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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Make A Donation With A Reality Check

, , , , , | Right | May 1, 2020

I have been a handyman for many years, doing really complex construction that does not require permits in our area. A neighbor calls me and asks if I would do some work for his church. I say I will consider it and agree to meet him at his church.

First, the pastor of the church knew nothing about this and reluctantly agrees to consider the project. My neighbor gives me a list of things he wants done, saying that this will be his donation to the church instead of money. I proceed to figure up the time, materials, and travel for the job and give him an estimated price.

Me: “Okay, I roughly figure the price to be [amount].”

Neighbor: “Okay, that’s fine; it will be my donation.”

Me: “I will need about half the money up front.”

This is my usual business practice, especially for those for whom I have not worked before.

Neighbor: “No, you don’t understand; this is my donation.”

Me: “That’s fine, but you are entering a contract with me, and I will be charging you [amount], which will be your donation.”

Neighbor: “No, obviously, you don’t understand what a donation is. I’m getting you to do this work for my donation to my church.”

Me: “Let me get this straight; you want me to purchase all the material, make multiple trips here, put in hours of work, and that will be your donation, and I get nothing for it?”

Neighbor: “Now you get it, exactly! What’s so hard to understand? This is my donation.”

Me: “It might be your donation, but it is not mine. No way will I do this.”

Neighbor: “But this is my donation! God won’t be pleased with you.”

For some reason, I decided against this job.

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Heavy Is The Head That Wears The Student Body Crown

, , , , , | Learning | March 12, 2020

(I go to a religious school, and once a week we have a chapel service; we sing hymns and listen to something of a sermon, that sort of thing. One day, the student body president gives a little talk about the importance of always doing what’s right, because God wants us to.)

Student Body President: “The other day, I saw a ninth-grader picking up some litter when no one else was around. She didn’t know I saw her; she was cleaning up just because it’s the right thing to do, not for any reward or recognition. You see, it’s important to always do the right thing. After all, who’s always watching?”

The Crowd: “[Student Body President] is always watching!”

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How Can You Be Comfortable With This Decision?

, , , , | Friendly | February 22, 2020

(My writing group meets in a church that also offers a lot of other programs like AA, trauma support, and just general sanctuary as we have a huge homeless population. I arrive a little early for a writing group one day and there is a homeless man standing on the porch. I pass him and pull on the door.) 

Homeless Man: “It’s not open yet.”

Me: “Oh, okay. I guess I’m a little too early.”

(We stand and chat for a minute, and then my writing group leader shows up, giving the homeless man a huge, cartoonish berth to open the door even though we are practically standing right next to each other. The leader and I go into the meeting room and the homeless man goes into the sanctuary. We have our meeting and everything’s good until the end, when this happens.)

Group Leader: “Okay, that’s our meeting for tonight. Now for some announcements. I know there was a homeless guy earlier in the church. I asked him what he was doing here and he said he was charging his phone, but you guys don’t need to be uncomfortable because I asked him to leave.” 

Me: “Wait, you asked him to leave?!”

Group Leader: “Yes, he was making people uncomfortable sitting in the sanctuary.”

Me: “I spoke to him a bit on the porch. He was fine. Not dangerous or anything. They’re allowed to be in the sanctuary if they’re not causing any harm.”

Group Leader: “Well, he was making people uncomfortable. He’s gone now, so none of you need to be scared walking out.”

(I did leave, and I looked around for the guy hoping he hadn’t gone too far so I could at least apologize to him for her behavior, but I couldn’t find him. I still feel so bad about it; how could someone be so jerky as to oust a homeless guy from a CHURCH?!)

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The Little Drummer Boy

, , , , , | Right | December 20, 2019

(Every year, our church puts on a massive, multi-night Christmas production. It’s a big deal in our small community. I’m volunteering at one of the visitor desks, where I’m directing traffic and answering questions. We’re about three nights into our nine-night run. A lady with a child who looks to be about five or six comes up to me.)

Me: “Welcome! What can I help you with?”

Lady: “Where is the childcare? I need to drop him off.”

Me: “Can I ask how old your child is?”

Lady: “He’s five.”

Me: “I’m sorry, but there is only childcare from birth to age three.”

Lady: “But I was told there’d be childcare. Can’t you just put down that he’s three?”

Me: “Again, I’m sorry, but I’m not allowed to do that. It’s a very interactive family show, so I guarantee he won’t be bored!”

Lady: *huge sigh* “FINE.”

(The child starts to whine about how he doesn’t want to go to the show. I kneel down so I’m at eye level.)

Me: “Hey, the show’s pretty cool! I saw it yesterday. There are lots of lights, Christmas songs, dancers, and drummers!”

Kid: *sniffles* “Drummers?”

Me: “Yep! They come on stage with giant drums! And there are lots of other surprises that you have to watch for!”

Kid:Cool! Mommy, I wanna go!”

Me: “Can I help you with anything else?”

Lady: *glares at me* “NO!”

(She walked off with her kid trailing behind her, talking about seeing the Christmas drummers. I hope he enjoyed it!)

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