I used to visit a Catholic church with my buddy Wes when I was growing up. I have fond memories of the place, but they mostly involved me trying really really hard not to laugh at inappropriate times. (Why is the humor center of our strange little brains wired to think it’s the absolute funniest thing to get uncontrollable giggles in inappropriate settings?) Wes would get this little smirk, say “Hey man, watch this,” and then do something epic. One time he hooked an arm around the wrist of the wine-goblet-holder-person so he could chug the whole thing before they pulled it away. In the scuffle, he got the Blood of Christ all over both of them. Wes was something of a legend in our middle school circles. To this day, if Wes says “Hey man, watch this,” go ahead and get out the camera app on your phone.
I happened to move back to that same neighborhood, and my backyard fence is shared with that church, which is now a huge Catholic mega-church and school. So now I’m surrounded by tons of Catholic neighbors. They all go to the church next door, and they have little gates in their backyards so they can walk out the back door and straight across the field to the services. In reality, however, they mostly pile into minivans and drive around the block. I’m sure my neighbor Andy will love me busting him on this — but in his defense, he does have 17 kids. After a certain point, the parents have to drop man-to-man coverage and go zone defense.
Being in a high-catholic-density area means two things:
1) My daughter has a million little friends to play with because they don’t practice birth control and their families are enormous and
2) It takes me approximately 3 ½ hours to get home on Wednesday nights because every Catholic in the area swarms my little part of the city.
I’d like to think that I have a pretty good standing with the Catholics. I’ve been a best man in two Catholic weddings – for Wes and Dre – and I’m an honorary Catholic godfather to a perfect kid named Brianna who is much cooler than I was at 10 years old.
In Wes’s wedding, I was surprised to find out that as the best man, I had to kneel at the front altar with the groom the whole time. (They call their services a “mass” to give you a sense of how epic-long these things are.) When we were standing next to each other, I could kinda slouch next to Wes and not look like such an ogre (I’m 6’2″ and I weighed 320 back then). But kneeling next to him at the front of the church in a tux, there was no avoiding it. In the middle of the service, I earned extra awkward points for getting leg cramps and publicly stretching so I looked like a fat penguin doing yoga. Not a pretty sight.
For the Methodists, our Lent offering is optional, but I’ve always done it. Every year, my Mema gives up chocolate for Lent. My brother gave up smoking one time, just to show everybody he didn’t need cigarettes, but then went right back to smoking on Easter.
I usually give up red meats, but this year I gave up drinking. I considered giving up speeding in my car, but I realized that would be entirely impractical. My car wants to go fast.
Here is the rule of Lent Fate — whatever you give up, you will be handed many times. If you give up drinking, you’ll find yourself as the only sober person at bachelor parties, college buddy reunions, and all kinds of drinkypoo events. If you give up chocolate, you will somehow win the Golden Ticket and end up at Willy Wonka’s factory.