We're All Damaged

Monday, September 21, 2009

Church Chat

Like a lot of people from my generation who were raised Catholic, I have gradually over the last ten years become a Godless heathen. I don’t know exactly when this happened. Perhaps it was when I stopped giving things up for Lent. Perhaps it was when I stopped knowing when Lent is. Either way, I’d be lying if I told you that it hasn’t been a lot of fun.

Sadly though, it would seem that my blissful trip through sacrilege has come to an end. My wife recently informed me that because we’re having a baby, it’s about time we join a church. Apparently, this is what people do.

Upon hearing this, my first reaction was to burst into tears. My second reaction was to throw myself through our front window and begin running. My third reaction, though, was simply to sigh. I was like an old criminal. I’d been on the lam for years, and finally the squad cars had arrived squealing to a stop at my doorstep. There was this overwhelming sense of inevitability.

Therefore, this past Sunday, instead of sleeping in or watching Meet the Press or football highlights or going to breakfast like hungover teenagers, the wife and I went to church. My wife isn’t Catholic, and so we’ve opted for Presbyterian. I’m not entirely sure what the difference is. They have most of the same prayers that we do, they’ve just messed around with the words a bit. There’s a lot less kneeling, though, which is nice.

We were sitting near the back. My wife was looking at the action going on upfront. As far as I could tell, she was paying attention. I, on the other hand, had busied myself with a stream of disjointed mental babbling.

Did I put my phone on vibrate? How embarrassing would that be? Will I ever publish a novel? How tall is Magic Johnson? 6'9". Yeah. Why do celebrities give their children such stupid names? I should e-mail my brother later. Does my corduroy blazer make me look like I’m trying to seem intellectual? Does that woman over there know she shouldn’t mix blue and black like that? Should I consider tooth whitening? Is there just one more season of Lost, or two? I could sure go for a fountain soda right now.

There was some blessing going on, some candles and whathaveyou, and I noticed a kid a few rows up. Dressed in a sharp little oxford shirt, he was looking back over the pews. Our eyes met, and the expression on his face was one of intense, almost frantic boredom. He seemed to be asking me for help with his eyes. I shrugged and nodded toward my wife to let him know that I was pretty much in the same boat.

That’s when this little boy, maybe three years old, decided that he’d had enough. He looked at his father, and then he looked at his mother. They were staring forward, thinking their own thoughts, perhaps, and so he just took off. He climbed down from his pew, side stepped his older sister, and made a break for the big door at the back of the church. He was laughing, his eyes big and joyous with escape. He was clutching a Transformer action figure.

Godspeed, little brother, I thought, as he ran by. Godspeed.


  1. Ha ha love it - that pretty much sums up how I felt as a child every time I was dragged along to church.

    Kate x

  2. Hi, Kate. I love your blog. I'm officially posting you on my list of blogs that are awesome. My endorcement will likely launch you to international fame by month's end. So, you're welcome for that.


  3. Haha!! Poor little guy- I'll bet he got a whooping when he got home. He did it for all of us tho!! That's TRUE martyrdom.


  4. Hey, Matt. Sounds like you need to find a church with Sunday School for children. When I was a kid, going to church was always like going to a party with lots of singing, games, arts and crafts, and even food. We went through this same process when we had kids, and we chose Presbyterian, too, since the hubby grew up Catholic and I didn't. Good luck!