I cursed Wendy’s name when my alarm went off this morning because, if you read yesterday’s post, you’d know that the Olympics are killing me. I hit the hay last night just before midnight after preaching about the positive effects adequate amounts of sleep will bring you. Do as I say, not as I do – at least during this next week and a half.
On my way over to her house, I passed by St. Charles, a Catholic church with a surprisingly loyal congregation. The parishioners were crossing the street and heading into mass on Ash Wednesday, the official beginning of the Lenten season. I smiled, knowing what they’d all look like on their way out.
When I arrived at Wendy’s, concerned my caffeine intake wasn’t adequate to support a six-mile run, Libby greeted with me with her morning triple-toe loop, or maybe it was a camel spin? Wendy claims Libi only performs this gesture of excitement when she sees me or my husband and I’ve chosen to believe her. What’s wrong with feeling special?
During the course of our run, there was talk about family – the good, the bad, and the “I can’t write about it here” variety – and other’s people children – mostly bad, definitely not printable. It’s during these conversations that I am reminded of the finer qualities of my three girls. All in all, they’re pretty scrumptious, even when they’re not.
You know what’s not scrumptious? The outfits the men wear in the figure skating competition. Let’s put Johnny Weir and his scary bustier (and matching pillow) number aside for a moment. Why the glitter? The ruffled shoulders? The unitard open to the navel? The feathers?! It doesn’t matter what country they’re from. They all look like gay chickens (because I know gay chickens). They perform feats that would probably kill 99% of us if we tried them. These guys are strong, athletic, jaw-droppingly talented. Honestly, I don’t care a wit who they go home to at night; I just wish they’d dress, well, a little more normal.
On the way home from our run, I drove by St. Charles again. I’d perfectly timed it so that I could see everyone exiting mass with smears of ash on their foreheads. In an instant, I was nine years old again, playing kickball with my friends on the grounds of our Catholic grammar school. None of us had dared wipe the ash. It was as if we were competing to see who could keep it on the longest. Out and about after dismissal, we’d still walk around like dirty little urchins, proud of this little sign that defined us as Catholic. It was my world, a parochial school for twelve years, and Wednesday morning, I was nostalgic for the common tie that bound us all. Fridays we couldn’t eat meat and so we had pancakes for dinner. The question we asked each other was always, “What did you give up for Lent?” My mother, wise woman that she is, always encouraged us to “do something nice” for someone, do something more, rather than stop eating chocolate. Benevolence still makes more sense to her than sacrifice.
I don’t attend a Catholic church any longer for reasons I’ll save for another post. The Episcopal services I frequent on Sunday mornings are warm, open, spiritual. My needs are met. But seeing Joe Biden going about his official business yesterday with ashes clearly visible on his forehead, I felt that Catholic shorthand with him, as I always will with Angela, Beth, Mary, Mary Anne, Maria, Mary Pat, Maureen, Pam, Sharon, Anne, Carol, Jeanine, Brandee, Peggy, Kathy, Kelly, Fran. The list goes on.
I’ve decided to give up chips for Lent AND do something nice for someone. Does it matter who that someone is, Mom?