4/12/09: Church, Maple Bars, and Mom

Dear Dick Wolf:

Happy Easter!


I don’t know if you celebrate or not, but just in case. I don’t normally celebrate anymore. Not that I shun Jesus or anything, but I’m not so much religious these days as spiritual. If I go to church on Easter, it’s more for nostalgia than anything.

You see, I grew up Catholic. I went to catholic school, wore the uniforms and everything. My mom has always wanted to provide me and my brother with the best of everything, so when we were growing up, she bartended like mad in order to earn enough money to send us to a private school, Sacred Heart Academy in Klamath Falls. She was also putting herself through college at the time. (Mom now teaches at Oregon Health & Sciences University, and still works like crazy. She also has a part-time job on the weekends working as a medical imaging technologist at an urgent care facility. She takes X-rays. As cool as this is, it proved somewhat troubling when I got bucked off that bull I told you about. She was the one who scanned me. Fun for her! But I digress…)

On Sundays, mom would take me and my brother to mass. We sang the hymns, recited the prayers, and shook hands with the people next to us and mumbled “Peace be with you” when the priest told us to offer one another a sign of Christ’s peace. This was the WORST part of church (drinking the fake wine was the highlight, even though I had to spout off the Act of Contrition first). I was shy and didn’t want to shake hands. It was especially horrifying when, as Catholic school students, we went to mass during the school day and I had to shake hands with the cute boys and stuck-up girls in my immediate vicinity. Even in church, they scared the hell out of me. I always sat next to my best friend Bernadette so, when the peace-be-with-you portion of the service came, I could shake hands with her first and try to trap her into a conversation, thus monopolizing her time and avoiding everyone  else. But Bernadette was a social butterfly and very good at the shaking hands thing. So, inevitably, she’d release my hand and move on, and I was forced to do the same. It was 30 seconds of agony.

But at Sunday mass, getting through the hand-shaking, and the rest of the service, had its reward. After leaving church, we’d walk across the street to Safeway and mom would buy maple bars for me and my brother. MAPLE BARS! They were so yummy. This was my favorite part of Sunday, and mom treated us every week. I don’t think she was intentionally bribing us to go to church, but it worked anyway. I looked forward to going. Not for the whole religious aspect of it, mind you…I mean c’mon, Catholics. No divorce? No sex before marriage? If I followed your rules I’d be a 36-year-old seriously neurotic virgin. Either that or I would’ve married the first guy my hormones went wackadoodle for and wound up stuck in the wrong relationship FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. And what’s up with confession? Do I really need to tell a priest my sins in order to be forgiven? Why does God need a middleman?…No, I looked forward to church because of the maple bars. And to this day, every time I have one – which isn’t nearly often enough – I’m transported back to Sunday mass with my family, and our weekly trips to Safeway.

If it’s any consolation, I still remember the Act of Contrition. Maybe I’ll dust off that puppy tonight, crack open a bottle of wine and have a maple bar. I mean, it is Easter.

Peace be with you, Mr. Wolf. I would totally shake your hand.


Published in: on April 12, 2009 at 3:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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