|legeros.com > Writing > The Great Sunday Vacuum|
"...straight from God's brain to your mouth." - Bart Simpson Abuse aside, what is the cruelest thing that parents do to their kids? Smoking cigarettes in the car with the windows closed? Forced consumption of greens?? Summer camp??? For Yours Truly, the horror of horrors was... having to go to church. From my wee years till my teens, I was dragged every Sunday morning to the Big C. First to St. Mark's Cathedral in Minneapolis and then to St. Andrew's in Morehead City, N.C. (We moved there when I was four- teen.) The later years were the most tolerable, especially after I mastered the art of negotiation with Mom. (She required that I attend service or Sunday school, but not both. And as I was old enough to roam on my own, the choice to skip service was a duh! no- brainer.) At St. Mark's, I'd wander about the building, at times hanging out in the daycare, at other times rifling through the kitchen. Or I'd cross the street to kill time in Loring Park. (There was a fire- house within long-walking distance, too!) In Morehead, however, the pickings proved far slimmer. While Mom, my stepdad, and my siblings sat in their own pews, I was down the street playing Pac- Man. Or hanging out in the church library, skimming their 600- pound dictionary. (You know you're bored when you're reading Web- ster's for pleasure...) By the end of my teens, the only kneeling I'd do was on Christmas Eve. And even *that* wasn't exactly a joy to the world, despite being the one time in the year when you knew all the songs (hymns). In my younger youth, daydreaming was the preferred escape from Church Service Hell. Prayers, hymns, and solemn sermons meant nothing to a hyperactive kid who was so restless that he once got up in the middle of a sermon, left his front-and-center pew, and walked out right in front of the Dean, the choir, and the congre- gation. (If I recall correctly, the later berating included some- thing about a handicapped girl in attendance and how *she* was able to sit through it.) At least there was never any danger of falling asleep. Ours was an Episcopalian church, which meant several cycles of standing, sit- ting, and knelling over that Hour That Felt Like Three. Sometimes they held communion, which provided the blessed relief of actually getting to *do* something during the service. (That and the guilty pleasure of sipping real wine!) Other times they passed the col- lection plate, inspiring the dare-never-act-upon-it temptation to nab a bill for myself. And believe it or not, I even *participated* in the service for a stretch, as a robe-clad, candle-carrying, trying-his-hardest-not- to-laugh altar boy. It sucked, sure, but membership had its priv- ileges. Altered boys sat separate from the congregation in a cham- ber behind the choir. And as no parents were present, we were free to make faces, pass notes, or fold programs into paper airplanes. (The latter to be launched from the back balcony, if the time and lack of adults was right.) When I finally fled the nest in 1983, to attend college at North Carolina State, church was and would remain the last of all pos- sible things to cross my mind. Sunday mornings (and early after- noons) turned into vast expanses of free time that no longer need involve boring Bible stories, the rote recitation of prayers, or anything even remotely requiring a coat and a tie. (Needless to say, I haven't viewed too many brides or burials in the intervening years, either.) Alas, the joy of my newfound freedom was quickly quelled with the realization that most of the *rest* of the world still went to church on Sundays. (Or at least quite a few folks in Raleigh...) Friends were harder to get up with, stores opened later, and, un- less you were a sports fan, TV was a total loss. The Great Sunday Vacuum, if you will, where entertainment and commerce commenced on- ly after 1. Or maybe not even all. (For many years Belk stores stayed closed on Church Day.) Nor could liquor be purchased any earlier in the day. (Not that this non-drinker minded...) In fact, about the only dependable pastime was people-watching, when the Houseguests of the Holy flocked en masse to area cafeterias and buffet-style steak houses. (And all of 'em smiling wide, either thrilled with God or thrilled to be free of Him for another week.) Now in my mid-thirties and only mildly resentful of my parent's past actions, I've learned to cope with the GSV. Sleeping late is good. As are leisurely brunches and the always dependable morning sex. Laundry, cleaning, and yard work are also dandy do-em's. And now that Target, Wal-Mart, and Hundred-Dollar Depot have infected the lands, one can even go shopping! Or book browsing!! Or bowl- ing!!! (Not only are the alleys open, but most of them have pin- ball, pool, and video games!) Even the multiplexes are starting to start their matinees at 11 or 12. For myself, however, the activity best suited to Sunday-in-the-a.m. is writing. No contest. The phone rarely rings, the doorbell nev- er chimes, and if you want to run errands, there just ain't that many places open. Of course, even sitting in front of the ol' computer-- writing or otherwise-- eventually results in raw rest- lessness. At least I'm no longer confined to a six-or-so-block geographic area. Or limited by the distance that my footsies won't fail. Thank God for adulthood... Copyright 1999 Michael J. Legeros
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Copyright 2021 by Michael J. Legeros