Monthly Archives: December 2011

My Spiritual Side

I spend lots of hours in church each year.  Even if I try I can’t pay attention – I probably have undiagnosed ADD.  I’m also not a big fan of rituals.

 10  things I think about in church

 

  1. What I’m going to do the rest of the day.
  2. Hair Ties are Sexy.
  3. Daydreaming about going back to being 15 and living my life over knowing what I know now.  I think about this a lot.  I really want to learn how to time travel. 
  4. Who are all these people showing up to church on Christmas?  They think there in on the eternal life deal only coming twice a year?  No fair!  I want that deal. 
  5. The bible readings are not very compelling.  How do people get so into them.
  6. It’s really not genetically possible that all people were descended from Adam and Eve.  I guess this is what theologians are for; to come up with explanations for implausible teachings.  I would mention this when my five year old starts asking about Adam and Eve at the dinner table; except I chicken out from conflict and definitely don’t want conflict in front of the kids.
  7. If Jesus comes back like we believe, won’t he be mistaken for a fraud?  If the news showed someone claiming to be Jesus we’d laugh at him.
  8. Why does an omnipresent god need to make his existence such a mystery?  If it’s to test us, is it fair to the people who aren’t raised in faith or are raised in the wrong faith?
  9. It’s a good thing god has eternal life planned for us.  If that wasn’t part of the deal Christianity would have died out long ago.  The muslims tried to one up other religions by offering lots of hot young babes to the deceased.  Good strategy.  No chance of that religion fading.
  10. If I was way more magnetic, I would start a religion.  I would offer the good stuff from the other religions and throw in church services that are over within 30 minutes or less and no church on Christmas.  It would be a special present from Jesus – take my birthday off.  All the emphasis on the poor in the bible is getting in the way and costing people money.  I think there would be a big demand for a denomination that emphasized self-sufficiency instead.  We would direct the needy to other churches or the government.

 It’s a good thing I’m a good catholic.

Meet the In-Laws

I’m an expert at how to do things wrong.  I make about every mistake you can.  Here’s one: get engaged before you even meet the parents.  Everyone else meets the parents and it usually goes great.  If you’re already committed, meeting the in-laws can go something like this:  

 We drive halfway across country.  Fiancee probably realizes I am not a great conversationalist.  She likes to talk but knows how to be quiet too.  As an introvert, I am energized by thinking about things and enjoy some downtime.  The in-laws are certainly nice enough though they exist in a world in which I have little exposure.  The house is on a beautiful plot of rural farm land.  Parts of the structure is from the 1800’s with some addtions.  The walls are covered with pictures; mostly either of Jesus, Mary, or random angels.  Some of the Jesus’s don’t even look like the same person; I guess as long as someone will buy it.

 I start to bond with the dad.  He carries an M-1 grand military rifle over his shoulder everywhere; and I mean everywhere – even to the 7-11.  I learn this is all perfectly legal as long as you don’t conceal it.  He shows me the fox holes he is making in the woods with sightlines to all the roads leading to the house.  He is preparing for a government siege; ahead of his time when it comes to right wing paranoia. 

 The first night we drive into town with in-laws heading to a restaurant.  Dad and me in the front.  The M-1 between us pointing in the back.  Through conversation, mom subtely lays out some basic philosophy on life.  Among them, breasts are bad.  She recounts a movie that would have been good but was ruined when the star was shown topless.  I think it was ‘Shakespeare in Love’.  Gwenneth Paltrow taking her top off definitely did not ruin the movie for me.  She also mentions that breast feeding is over-rated.  Oh boy. 

Fiancee has a number of siblings living in the area and it’s an always on the go atmosphere at this house.  Not much in the way of formal meals – people get something to eat ‘on the go’.  Fiancee was going shopping a lot and eating big restaurant meals and never hungry at home.  I was usually back home finding something to do on the farm.  I wanted to keep busy and was able to.  After a couple days, I hadn’t eaten much.  I didn’t care – if there weren’t any actual group meals I wasn’t going to go out of my way to find something to eat.   Besides, there was a big feast planned for the next day and I was going to be some kind of hungry. 

 The next day comes and there are Aunts and Uncles and relatives.  Lots of cooking and grilling.  But first, we adjourn to the TV room to watch some home videos.  Most of the rooms in the house are set up as shrines or something so there is little usable space.  The TV is actually in the Foyer with a couple couches jammed in there.  It’s actually good size for a foyer – but a bit awkward for a living room.  So the home movie turns out to be about home slaughtering of animals.  Yup, I get to watch a cow being butchered and cut apart and drained of blood and all that.  I look to slip out but one exit is blocked with relatives and a couch, another has her dad in front with a loaded M-1.  I lost my appetite. 

 On the ride home, I think about my future.  I have doubts but I’m not strong enough to hurt her at this stage.  It would kill her.  It would be easier to murder her than break an engagement.  In the back of my mind I didn’t know how I would react to it either.  There was a chance my mind was tricking me into ruining my life which would be so like me.  I would pass it off as cold feet.  That was the path of least resistance.

The Good, The Bad, and the Unexpected Part II

It’s last week; I’m riding with a co-worker in a Chevy Suburban.  We were heading back from a project in the eastern part of the state.  A late lunch was in order.  Andy’s sounded good – it’s a regional chain with chiliburgers and cheesefries – that sort of fair. The place was mostly empty at 3:00 as our waitress took our order.  She was young but not blessed with naturally good looks; rather heavy with a round face, mousy brown hair, and breasts prematurely affected by gravity.  Very efficient and pleasant; she kept my root beer full. 

 In a place where you can eat for about $6, her tip income had to be minimal.  I thought about how much more the perky pretty waitresses make in this world.  I certainly contributed to that bias in my many single years.  Why?  I think on some level guys are not willing to give up on the hope that a pretty waitress will notice a 25% tip and track us down in the parking lot and tell us what time they get off.  Pretty pathetic really but yes apparently some of us are this stupid.  I thought how our waitress probably never got an exceptional tip, probably wouldn’t get asked to the prom, or get many of life’s benefits normally reserved for the genetically anointed. 

 We paid at the register; I returned to leave the tip.  My co-worker left the predicable dollar.  I matched that and upped the ante with my loose change for a grand tip of $1.16.  I walked out as our waitress held the door, smiled, and wished us well.  As we left, another group entered and was being seated by said waitress.  Not normally known for my quick or spontaneous thinking, I pivoted.

 Back inside I went, our table still unattended.  I had been to the ATM the day before so I had ample cash.  I surrepetitiously opened my wallet and pulled the wad of twenties.  I stuck it under the sweating glass and scurried careful not to make eye contact with anyone.  My new tip total was $221.16. 

 I hurried back through the parking lot. 

Coworker:  “What were you doing?  Did you steal my dollar?”

Me:  “Yeah I stole your lousy dollar.  Just shut the fuck up and drive”

 I don’t think of it as pity or charity.  I think of it as an equalizer for all the jackass guys in this world who treat certain strangers a little different.  Spouse still brings up a story when she waitressed as a teen; a particularly large and demanding party stiffed her.  She still remembers.  In umpteen years, this girl will tell the story of an unexpected afternoon at Andy’s.  I liked that thought.  I made someone’s week and it was worth it.  I’ll do it again sometime.

The Good, The Bad, and the Unexpected – part 1

Some background, bear with me:

I’m fairly cheap.  I don’t personally give that much to charity but mainly because spouse can hardly say no.  Especially with regard to the countless church collections.  I’m frugal to partly balance her out; and partly because I don’t get choked up from the mailers with pictures of hungry African children.  They will go to any graphic length necessary to tap your emotions and your wallet.  The thing is – you really can’t stop it.  The more spouse donates, the more hungry children show up in our mailbox.  It’s a vicious cycle and I’m not home enough to throw away the mailers before she gets them.  

 First The Bad: 

The doorbell rang.  I steeled my normally pushover self to brush off a solicitor.  It was a boy selling something completely useless.  I said no thanks.  As he walked away I realized he was only about 7.  I then saw he was heading to his dads car parked at the corner.  It just kept getting worse – I realized he was in my daughters class, that he was shy and stressed about having to sell stuff; that his dad drove him specifically to someone he knows house figuring we’d be receptive.  I felt horrible, I mean really really bad for days.  I vowed to buy anything any kid tries to sell at our door for the rest of my life; though I imagined word of my beat-down would spread and my house would be marked as the grinch’s cave never to be approached by youths unless armed with eggs. 

 A year or so later, the doorbell rang, the solicitor was a male, caucasion, early 20’s,  some facial hair but that’s not important right now.  He was a veteran back from Afghanistan seeking support to put together care packages to send to the troops.  Who doesn’t support the troops?  Who could say no to a veteran trying to muster some support for the guys back in the foxholes battling it out.  It was a well thought out pitch that was aimed at the gut and extremely difficult to turn down.  I felt my stomach tighten as I stood firm and said ‘not today thanks’.   The pitch was so hard to turn down I think it was conjured.  I doubted a couple guys in their 20’s were going to spend their weekends doing this because their buddies on the battlefield don’t have enough shaving cream and chewing gum.  I didn’t buy it, and I felt good about sending them packing.

Next:  The Unexpected