Wednesdays with Wendy: do you know you have dirt on your forehead?

Joe Biden.

Joe Biden.

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?

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  1. Beth says

    Don’t you dare make fun of Johnny Weir – I’ll kick your weary you-know-what. Ha! I’m slightly obsessed with him …

  2. Mary Anne says

    Johnny Weir – he’s got that mix of talent, bizareness and “lets just see what he does next” sort of quality that makes him definitely fun to watch. My 2nd grader mistakenly calls him Johnny Weird and its so funny I haven’t corrected her yet. On the Lenten front – I too was brought back when I picked up my kids from school yesterday and they and all their little friends had smudgy foreheads…however they had perfect crosses – not a smooshy thumbprint like Joe. Sean is giving up teasing his sister, Madeline is giving up whining, Greg is giving up dessert and I am “giving up” losing my temper with them all. Each time one of us catches another doing something we ought not to, the guilty culprit has to put a quarter, “of their very own money” in the Lent jar – I will be so much poorer I predict. Love ya,

  3. Janet says

    You can add me to your list of smudgy forehead gals. Thanks for the post. It is really refreshing to read something positive and nostalgic about the Catholic faith once in a while. (I don’t know if you have noticed but we get a lot of negative press).

    I was a competitive Ice Skater and skated in the Ice Capades as well. Even the most elaborate Ice Capades costumes couldn’t compete with Johnny Weirs. I get too nervous to watch the skaters – I start to have a panic attack – too many memories of missed jumps and dramatic heartbreaking falls. I can watch the Ice Dance event without needing a paper bag to breathe into.
    Oh yes, I have given up desserts for lent. – Janet

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