Friday, March 07, 2003

From The Brain of The Giant Head

You’ve Got One Nice Ash

This past Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, an important day on the Catholic calendar. Since I was born and raised Catholic, I figured it was best if I abided by God’s rules for a day. The two main rules on this, of all holy days are:

1) Don’t eat meat and
2) Go to church.

The church thing I don’t mind, as I figure one hour a week isn’t really that big of a deal when it comes to protecting my soul from eternal damnation, but the no meat part of the rule is as devastating to me as finding out the Tooth Fairy gave my sister $1 per tooth compared to the nickel I got. In retrospect maybe I should have taken the money I invested in Dot.coms and put it toward teeth. More importantly, did you ever wonder how the Tooth Fairy has a bottomless pit of money? But I digress.

So I woke up that morning and had to replace my usual sausage, bacon, ham, goetta, burger, steak and cow omelet with a bowl of Fruit Rings, the generic version of the more expensive version. While my arteries thanked me, my stomach complained for about 2 hours. And on my drive to work I experienced the lack-of-meat-shakes, not to be confused with angry-road-rage-shakes.

As my day moseyed on, my body began to adjust. And for lunch I had pizza, though not my usual meat-lovers-heart-stoppers pizza. I got a veggie pizza, which to a meat lover like me is like decaf to a coffee drinker. I survived the day and headed home to get the LGB to go to church.

As we got to church, we sat in a pew in the back. This church must have held about a gillion people, and it made me stop and think that if this many people are holy and live by the "Do unto other as you want them to do unto you" theory, then why do they all bring their dogs to poop in my yard?

We enjoyed the usual hymns and psalms and other funny spelled things you can only find in church. The priest rose and said, "Come forth now to receive your ashes."

I exited my pew and walked down the center aisle. Now at my old church in Cincinnati, I remember there being an orderly fashion of following the row in front of you. Not so in Chicago. Getting ashes or communion is similar to highway traffic -- you get in line as fast as possible and if you're caught leaving even the slightest of room between you and the person in front of you, another church-goer will cut you off. And unfortunately, you realize you are in church and have to put that middle finger back in your pocket.

When I finally arrived up at the alter to receive my ashes, the priest stared at me for a few moments. He was staring at my crotch, which was an extreme concern of mine with all these priest allegations of crotch-staring in the news. I slowly waddled up to him. He placed his thumb in a bowl of ashes (ever wonder where they get those ashes?) and moved his thumb to my enormous forehead.

Then, the priest makes the sign of the cross and says, "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust."Then came that incredibly awkward moment where I have no idea what to say. It’s not like communion where you give the ever-important word, "Amen." No, this is a special situation that required a special response. Unfortunately I’m not that quick on my feet and blurted out the first thing that came to mind in a loud voice that I’m sure everyone in a 50-mile radius could here:


A deafening silence came over the congregation, as they didn’t know whether or not any of the commandments frown on laughter inside the building of worship. Hanging my head, I began to walk away until the priest grabbed my arm and pulled me back.

"Yes, Father?" I said.

"Son," he said, "Your fly is down."

I looked down and saw my underwear hanging out the place in between my legs where my zipper usually is. I zipped up, shook my head in embarrassment, and headed directly for the exit of the church.

So that’s my story for Ash Wednesday. And after church we did what any good and holy Catholics would do. We hit the bars.