Sunday, October 24, 2010

church pews and beer gardens

round to the left, round to the right swings my stool on this soggy day. the counter is too far away from my stool, by the way, but both are bolted down. so i lean forward to reach my stale coffee, reaching back ever so often to make sure my underwear isn't trying to escape my jeans. it would be indecent on a sunday. only my right earphone works, and motown's finest aren't doing much to cover the after-church clatter. catholics, i bet. they need a release after 60 minutes of the eucharist's speak only when spoken to policy. imposed piety seems contrary to being filled with the spirit, in my opinion. though no one has asked for it yet.

i went to catholic church sometimes as a kid, with my grandmother...nanni, as we call her in italian. i always forgot that half-curtsey thing catholics do when they get to the bench behind the bench they're going to sit in, and i'm pretty sure a time or two i ran right into nanni's rear end because i wasn't paying attention. immaculate conception church had the slickest benches, and i was always glad when nanni chose a near-empty one. that way i could slide back and forth, back and forth, while she stood and kneeled, stood and kneeled, all the while repeating amens and also with yous. i would read the church program, too, but only to gauge how quickly father federico (was that his name?) would get to the wafer part. i wasn't a catholic, so mom forbid me from communion, but i liked to watch nanni receive hers. not long after we sat down she would pull goodies from her liz claiborne purse. she got a new one every christmas from my well-off aunt in north carolina. old lady purses have lots of zipper pockets, as if designers know there are granddaughters to keep busy during mass. nanni kept baggies of crackers or cookies and a pencil and paper so i'd behave while she went up front to sing in the choir, which would hold my attention for a minute or two because i liked to watch her sing — head tilted back, mouth open like a baby bird waiting to be fed.

mom let me go to catholic church with nanni every great once in a while. otherwise i was at freewill baptist along with most of mom's side of the family. baptist church was pretty rock n roll, at least in the 80s. that's the last decade i went regularly. you could walk in late without getting dirty looks, or any looks, because the more the merrier. you could walk in 13 and pregnant, too, like that one girl. you could bring your illegitimate kids without being the talk of the congregation because, unlike catholics, baptists don't believe the rhythm method is the only way. it's just the usual way. and it usually doesn't work for long. there was no program to follow in baptist church, either. you never knew what you'd get. no imposed silence, for sure. if 5 baby cousins weren't screaming or aunt anna wasn't yelling "praise jesus! praise ya lord!" or mom wasn't threatening kev and i for fighting across the bench, then ol' preacher bright was sure to be jumping like a firecracker up front, face flushed bright as the chanel red on his fashionable daughter-in-law's lips.

the sundays of my youth were spent in buildings of worship. the sundays of my adulthood are often spent writing. it's a good day for it. i moved to memphis imagining myself spending many evenings with my laptop, late into the night if the words were good to me. snuggled up in a comfy chair in a dark, homey coffeehouse. i've yet to find that place here. my options are bright and loud joints, or not-as-bright but still unwelcoming joints. bummer. the only way to find peace and quiet in a coffee shop here is to get there before most of the city wakes up. and why didn't i? last night wasn't a rager. i left the bar and headed home while the rest of my crew went on to a house party. i didn't have it in me. i rarely do. get there late, leave early. all the good stuff happens in the middle anyway.

so i ended my big saturday night out at 10:30. as soon as i closed the front door i peeled the layers of my cute goin' out getup, put on my pjs, kissed and hugged three happy dogs, then mopped the kitchen and picked up the mess kaiser had pulled from the bathroom trash can, a habit he took up about a year ago, after many years of doing nearly nothing cantankerous. from puppyhood to about a year old, he ate duct tape, furniture parts, and the bible. if i were catholic i'd probably owe a hundred hail marys as penitence for that one. instead, as i threw tissue scraps and the hairball i pulled from the bathtub drain back into the trash, i counted my blessings.

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